Smart Appointment Scheduling System for cost reduction in doing business

BY: Dr Edwin Acheampong
The writer Dr Edwin Acheampong
The writer Dr Edwin Acheampong

It takes smart leadership – knowledge-based and transformational leadership – to navigate one’s way through the labyrinth of challenges and opportunities presented by the current knowledge age and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

Today’s leaders have to be creative and innovative and connect to local and global knowledge resources to remain and sustain their competitiveness in terms of efficient business operations and service delivery.

One area that calls for such leadership qualities is the area of controlling crowds of customers and patrons in the course of service provision.

Public institutions, such as, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Passport Office, Registrar General’s Department and the Births and Death Registry, receive large crowds of customers/patrons every day and the arrangements in place to manage the crowds leave much to be desired.

During voter registration and voting exercises, the Electoral Commission has to deal with large crowds, and the chaotic scenes that attend some of these exercises call for creative leadership. The recent recruitment exercises by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) were not exempted from overcrowding amid the health consequences that could attend such blatant disregard of COVID-19 protocol.

Loss

Loss of precious time and working hours to long queues and overcrowding in public institutions and exercises has plagued and continue to plague the country.

To give leadership some relief and the public some respite in their day-to-day pursuit of public services and to avoid any crowd-induced spikes in COVID-related infections, Knowledge Kinetics Organisation proposes the Smart Appointment Scheduling System —a simple system that schedules appointments for voter registration, customers and patrons’ access to public services and job applicants, among other crowd-related exercises.

Using the Universal Supplementary Service Data (USSD) protocol, the Smart Appointment Scheduling System (SASS) enables a potential registrant or customer to determine his or her preferred date and time to be registered or to access a public service.

Patrons of the system will be required to book their appointments by entering the required code (s) on their phones, where analogue or smart.

Their request is acknowledged with a message detailing the name of the office to serve him or her, the date and time he or she is required to report to the office, and the standard (s) pertaining to the service (s) required.

Practical, reliable

The SASS proposed is practical and can be relied upon to socially distance registrants, applicants and customers.

The user does not need a special phone to use the system and he or she is assured of the time for and duration of the service.

With this, access is not restricted to only those with smartphones. Again, appointments can be secured for a relative or a friend who does not have a phone.

In this case, the relative will be required to visit the office with details of his or her appointment on a piece of paper, especially the transaction reference number.

Cost, deployment

It will cost public institutions between GH₵20,000 and GH₵30,000 to deploy the SASS per annum.

The institutions can, however, recoup the cost by charging users of the system a token (something between 50GP and GH¢1) for each use.

Excessive vehicular traffic and long queues and delays that attend public service delivery have been identified as some of the factors increasing the cost of doing business in Ghana.

This, no doubt, informed the Finance Minister to announce the removal of toll charges on all public roads and bridges in the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy and Financial Statement presented to Parliament.

The State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA) can champion the adoption of SASS Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

For public administrators in Ghana, Knowledge Management, as a corporate tool, opens up pragmatic strategic options to grow intellectual capabilities to improve efficiency in policy-making and service delivery.

The write is the CEO of Knowledge Kinetics Organisation (2KO).

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