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Biz Buddy: Tamil Nadu’s Response to Real-Time Governance
Posted March 23, 2021
As an administrator, one of the most critical challenges that we face in positioning government as a value-added service provider is improving the quality, impact, and efficiency of public services. In the days of yore, traditional file systems were used to maintain the details of the business and the issues they registered. These legacy systems require personal visits to the offices and registration on paper,which is a time-consuming and man-power intensive process. The future is digital. The widespread use of digital technologies, including the rapid evolution of mobile connectivity and internet, offer digital feedback mechanisms that are faster, cost-effective, and scalable as compared to traditional approaches.By digitalizing the feedback loop alone, we are able to circumvent challenges posed by departments that are not yet fully digital internally and which may take a long period of time. Governance also becomes digital and real-time.
Taking a leaf out of one of the largest companies in the world to be the Earth’s most customer-centric company, there is a need to put citizens at the center of governance and service delivery, and in the case of G2B services, there is a need to be business-centric.
Biz Buddy is such an initiative of the Government of Tamil Nadu.It is an industry help desk portal with three primary objectives:
  • Streamlined redressal mechanism for resolution of industrial investor’s unsolved issues.
  • Tracking & monitoring investor issues in a real-time manner.
  • Improving Tamil Nadu’s investment climate by enhancing the aftercare services provided to industrial investors.
Investors can submit Help Calls on Biz Buddy on items pertaining to approvals, clearances, operational issues, subsidy disbursal, and other issues. Once the investor submits a Help Call, it is reviewed by Guidance officials monitoring the portal and assigned to the concerned department for resolution. Each stage has a defined resolution period. If a Help Call is not solved within the defined period, it gets escalated and brought to the next stage of the escalation matrix. The resolution period for the stages is designed in a manner to ensure that Help Calls are resolved within a period of 30 working days on a best effort basis. Upon resolution of the issue, the investor gets an instant alert on the progress.
Customer centricity lies at the heart of Biz Buddy and is designed with a digital feedback loop — a mechanism that generates information on the quality of service and can be used to improve performance.This includes an administrative data loop that collects information on individual service transactions(the number of days between request for service and resolution of the help call), and a choice and voice loop that collects data on the service experience of the business (satisfaction with the experience).
Biz Buddy was designed on some of the key factors that are critical to the success of a feedback loop:
Feedback will be provided by users or be useful to the government only when there is a commitment at the top levels that the feedback is valued and responds with visible improvements in service quality. The commitment was provided by the Hon’ble Chief Minister as he announced this initiative via Rule 110 in the floor of the assembly. This also requires provisions of adequate resources and capacity to respond. As of October 2020, 20 various government departments & agencies, 150+ officers including all district collectors have been onboarded and were actively involved in the resolution of investor issues. Each of the departments (Industries, Energy, Housing & Urban Development, Municipal & Water Supply among others) are headed by Secretaries in order to ensure the resolution of Help Calls assigned to their departments. Each of the 83 sub-departments (Directorate of Town & Country Planning, Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu, Tamil Nadu Industrial, Development Corporation, State Industries, Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu among others) are led by Head of Departments who in turn are responsible for the resolution of Help calls assigned to their sub-departments. Detailed user manual and dedicated staff in Guidance have adequately resourced the initiative.
The transparency of feedback to all stakeholders, both internal and external, avoids the suppression of adverse feedback while also taken as a signal of commitment. Biz Buddy portal has dynamic dashboards for Government officers to monitor Help Calls assigned to them. A dedicated Project Monitoring & Coordination (PMC) Team at Guidance assigns the requests centrally to individual departments. It measures service levels, gauges user satisfaction, and diagnoses problems. A consolidated report is sent weekly to all officers in order to ensure necessary visibility & awareness of issues across decision-making levels. Investors are provided with a tracking number for their issues & can monitor it online without the need to contact any government official.
Going beyond grievance redressal, learning outcomes help improve the long-term service design. The PMC team suggests and implements actionable improvements in business processes. In the future, when more data is collected, data analytics will support in improving the process efficiency.
Feedback can range from a simple text message to emails or richer media. Automatic SMS/email notifications are triggered if there is any Help Call operation — assignment to a department, status changes, closure, and resolution among others.
Outcomes Realised
All of these design elements have contributed towards the successful functioning of Biz Buddy which has resulted in an 80% decrease in the resolution period of investor issues from 108 days on average to 24 days. In the larger scheme of progress, using digital feedback also aligns with sustainable development goals such as promoting peaceful and inclusive societies and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions (Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions). With the success of Biz Buddy, Tamil Nadu is moving towards real-time governance, a sine qua non in the age of Digital India, and sets a path for the future G2C and G2B services where the choice and voice loop is shifting from provider-controlled systems to citizen controlled systems.
Guidance is working on the next generation of Biz Buddy that is integrated with the Single Window Portal that services a wider range of investors in order to improve the efficiency of aftercare services. Biz Buddy will also serve as a mechanism for industries to share their ideas and suggestions for improving the industrial climate in the state and to crowd source solutions for specific challenges. Initiatives like Biz Buddy reaffirm the commitment of the Government of Tamil Nadu to improve the ease of doing business, making it an industry-friendly government with an impeccable digital governance system.
Contributed by Gaurav Daga, Associate Vice President, Guidance Contributed by Dr. Neeraj Mittal IAS, MD & CEO, Guidance
References: Alan Gelb, Neeraj Mittal, and Anit Mukherjee, Towards Real-Time Governance: Using Digital Feedback to Improve Service, Voice, and Accountability, Centre for Global Development, Nov 2019
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