Introduction to F2
F2 is a new type of software product: an integrated production platform for government work.
F2 has been developed in close collaboration between Danish central government ministries and the cBrain software house (listed at Nasdaq-OMX). The first Danish ministry went live on F2 in 2008, and today more than half of all Danish ministries as well as multiple agencies and municipalities run F2.
F2 is more than a software platform. F2 is also a model for digital public administration. The software and the model are continuously developed, based on input from the large group of user organizations that regularly upgrade to the latest version of F2; at least annually.
F2 is multi-lingual, and the F2 model and software have been proven to work in both large and small countries, from the UK and Germany to Sweden, Greece and Greenland.
While the first version of F2 was designed to support general work processes in central government departments, today F2 also supports mission critical processes in agencies and municipalities. And F2 can be implemented quickly. For example, a new ministry went live in Denmark in September 2015 four weeks after signing the order.
Fully deployed, F2 supports all governmental work including case and knowledge processing as well as regulatory requirements, with access from PCs, mobile devices and tablets. F2 can eliminate many of the heavily customized or one of a kind point solutions which government organizations use today to run their business.
A new approach to government digitization
Government work processes and public administration are based on a long tradition of public governance and are fundamentally very similar across the western world.
But even though government work processes are relatively stable, and not a "functionally moving target", it has proven difficult to implement and re-use effective digital tools. In despite of huge IT investments, much government work is still paper or e-mail driven, with significant opportunities for increasing productivity as well as quality of work.
The Danish ministries have a long history of using IT internally, driven by law and demand for increased efficiency and citizens service. They found that their problem of inefficient digital tools was due to a very
complex IT infrastructure. Users had to engage with many point solutions, mainly designed for the private sector, and therefore often heavily customized for public sector use. Insufficient integration often meant that users were copying data from one application to another, or using multiple applications to support even simple tasks.
The F2 project was therefore initiated. The Danish ministries were looking for a new approach to government digitization. An efficient digital platform for work, no longer based on best-of-breed and heavily customized point solutions, or manual workarounds.
What makes F2 different
F2 is different because it was built from scratch, taking government work, organization and routines as the starting point for the design. This government-driven design approach in turn led to a new software architecture.
The F2 software architecture eliminates data replication and system integration. F2 was also designed to enable user organizations to configure the standard software to support generic as well as mission critical work processes without customization.
F2 is designed to use the language and support the workflows that government users would expect, and F2 offers users an efficient working environment, with fast and easy access to information. Core government routines such as approval processes, briefings, meetings, FOI requests, and records and email management are supported by highly secure process and data transparency.
Everything in one place
High user acceptance is achieved because F2 offers users everything in one place. A "one-stop shop" working environment based on a well known user interface that looks just like email.
With F2, users have access to all work functions from a simple mail-like window. F2 uses government terminology, and users can control, monitor and share original versions of all data, including formal and informal collaboration.
This is possible due to the F2 software architecture. In F2 all data are stored in a central corporate database, which is organized into cases, records and documents. F2 offers secure role-based access using organizational structures and automates formal tasks like records management.
F2 product and functionality
Today most government organizations base their production on Email along with a combination of heavily customized or specialized point applications. Users have to deal with applications each supporting specific functional areas like case and document management, record management, intranet, collaboration, work flow and knowledge sharing. In this environment, each point application presents users with an individual user interface and holds its proprietary data, leading to an environment of heavy data replication and complex data controlling.
In contrast to the traditional best-of-breed approach and bespoke point applications, the F2 production system offers all functionality delivered as a fully integrated application. And F2 is a very flexible, yet 100% standard solution, which can be tailored for individual organizational needs without programming.
Technically, F2 holds all data (cases, records and documents, including all formal as well as informal communication) in a single corporate database, which offers a highly effective role based access control system with full document versioning and complete audit trail control. All system functionality is presented with an easy-to-use Email-like user interface for PC users, while mobile users are offered web access (HTML5) and IOS based Apps for smart phones and tablets.
With F2, all users can work out of the corporate database, sharing data online and real-time, thereby not only eliminating data replication but also securing an extremely high level of data and access control. With F2 data are born and live their entire internal life cycle in the database, and the F2 functionality supports all case and knowledge processing, including communication with built-in e-mail and chat, as well as full support for government processes (often referred to as correspondence management) like approvals, request and meetings as well as regulatory requirements including e-discovery and Freedom of Information.
Fully implemented F2 thereby can eliminate existing applications like:
• Case and document management
• Records management and E-discovery
• Formal communication (like Email)
• Informal communication (Chat)
• Knowledge sharing
• Government work flows (like approvals and requests) • Meetings
• Time capture
In addition, F2 offers an innovative checklist-based approach which makes it possible to support specialized and mission critical processes from within the standard F2 production platform. This includes support for external processes like citizen-facing self-services as well as support for sensitive internal processes like HR.
The F2 checklist-based concept for process automation is very effective especially within case processing organizations, where the traditional approach, based on swim lanes and work flow engines, often becomes rigid and difficult to maintain.
Users who are granted access to the built-in F2 process editor can themselves define and maintain process definitions, where a process is described by phases with tasks. Tasks within checklist can be automated and they can be offered as self-service functionality for external users (e.g. citizens).
Integrated with the F2 process and self-service functionality, F2 also offers an online dashboard which shows realtime progress of the process. The dashboard provides a management overview, with users able to drill down to detailed case/record and employee level.
The F2 production platform represents a new type of software for government organizations. A shift from best-of-breed and point solutions to an integrated approach and a shift from build to buy.
Government organizations traditionally base their IT on many different software packages, heavily customized and weakly integrated using portals, API's, service buses etc.
In contrast F2 offers one integrated standard solution, ready-for-cloud and supporting all government working processes and routines. Based on a shared corporate database, holding all cases, records and documents, and supporting users across the organization with a PC based mail-like user interface, called the knowledge worker desktop, in parallel with mobile Apps for smart phones and tablets.
Open system, easy to upgrade
F2 offers an extensive set of REST-based API's which makes F2 an open architecture.
The REST-based API's allow processes to include communication with various external systems like address and GIS registers, HR and accounting systems, government cloud services, government mail or mission critical applications.
Part of the F2 technology platform is a fully automated and proven upgrade toolset. In parallel with user content (organized into cases, records etc), the F2 database holds all setup and configuration information. It is therefore possible to perform a fully automated upgrade to new versions of F2 by running a data upgrade script, which technically may only take 10-20 minutes.
Easy to upgrade means that users do not get stuck with old and outdated software. In parallel, the F2 upgrade toolset ensures that users are not disturbed when upgrading as upgrade service windows are very short.
And it works: today standard F2 is deployed by more than 50 government organizations who upgrade for new versions at least one time every year