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Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy
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Social Service Administrative Strategies: Seven Steps to Thrive in a Weak Economy

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Improving social services in a down economy is a true challenge. Here, IBM provides strategies and solutions to help social service organizations improve efficiency and minimize fraud with limited …

Improving social services in a down economy is a true challenge. Here, IBM provides strategies and solutions to help social service organizations improve efficiency and minimize fraud with limited resources and staff to ensure that citizen needs always come first.

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  • 1. IBM Global Business Services Point of View Seven Steps That Social Security Global Social Segment and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy By Edward Blatt, Ph.D. & Chris Gibbon, Ph.D.
  • 2. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 2 In an economic downturn like the one the world has been experiencing since Table of Contents the late summer of 2008, social services and social security organizations find themselves in a unique bind. At a time when government budgets are being 3 Develop client segmentation severely cut and staff are being laid off, many organizations find that they are strategies to identify the diverse needs of citizens. providing services to more people than ever before. One response to the new 5 Emphasize choice and access economic reality is to continue doing everything as before. Such an approach, to services however, is almost certain to fail. An organization may be able to slide by for a 6 Ensure that all citizens benefit short period with increased caseloads combined with fewer staff and smaller from the information society 8 Increase the opportunity for budgets; but in a protracted economic decline this approach just won’t scale. professional development 9 Enable information sharing across government 10 Reduce fraud and abuse through effective identity management and effective privacy legislation and policy 11 Establish governance measures to support intergovernmental collaboration and partnerships 11 A Simple Choice The current downturn can actually provide smart organizations with an opportunity to take a balanced view of their operations and create opportunities for change that can help them become more effective and efficient in the long run. In an atmosphere where many organizations are looking to simply carry on; forward looking administrators are looking to flourish. They can do this through innovation that helps them cope with the new reality of increased caseloads and fewer resources. They must find ways to get optimal value from existing programs and services, but they must also find new ways to address the needs of staff and the demands of clients.
  • 3. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 3 Social organizations today find themselves in a new environment with new Highlights demands. Innovation will not only help them survive, it can help them thrive. Here are seven steps that human services administrators can take, even in weak economic times, to realize optimal value from existing programs and drive innovation that can transform their organization and the contributions that they make to society. The fundamental concept behind 1. Develop client segmentation strategies to identify the diverse needs of citizens. citizen-centered service is that, The fundamental concept behind citizen-centered service is that, when it when it comes to allocating comes to allocating services and benefits, citizen needs take priority over services and benefits, citizen organizational requirements. Many governments have embraced this concept needs take priority over and some, like the Canadian Federal Government via Service Canada, have organizational requirements. taken steps to make it a reality. Governments are taking great strides to better understand the needs of citizens and groups of citizens, and the leaders are designing service offerings that meet these needs. Many governments have developed rudimentary segmentation techniques based on demographic categories, and are providing administrative information and some services tailored to these groups. Services accessible from Web sites, for example, are grouped by life event categories, such as retirement and unemployment. While still in early stages, leading governments are putting steps in place to develop robust client segmentation strategies to define service offerings in support of overall government desired program outcomes. And those that are moving in this direction are finding that the client segmentation strategies help maximize value in existing programs and services by eliminating redundancies across organizations and reducing costs. At the same time, many of these organizations are learning that benefits can be realized when there is active engagement with the public. Governments are beginning to seek citizen input and feedback into policy and program development, as well as proposed legislative changes, through online
  • 4. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 4 interactive portals and other accessible means. And the involvement is not just short term. Forward thinking administrators are emphasizing the continued involvement of citizens in policy and program development. In Australia, for example, the government has set principles for online engagement that support a consistent experience for everyone dealing electronically with Australian government. In the UK, the Government is implementing new processes to engage with citizens, businesses, and public servants. These types of efforts can not only help to enhance existing programs and services, they can also identify valuable innovations; all of which can improve service delivery, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, program outcomes. If you are interested in moving in this direction, the first thing to do is to gain comprehensive understandings of your current service and benefit delivery strategy and the clients you serve. What are your priorities? What do you do well and not so well? What is strategically important to your organization? By first gaining a clear understanding of where you are today, you will pave the way for developing and implementing new segmentation strategies that engage your clients, improve outcomes, and increase client satisfaction. By first gaining a clear understanding of where you are today, you will pave the What are your priorities? way for developing and implementing new segmentation strategies that: • Engage your clients What do you do well • Improve outcomes and not so well? • Increase client satisfaction What is strategically important to your organization?
  • 5. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 5 2. Emphasize choice and access to services. Highlights In leading governments, eGovernment strategies are becoming whole-of- government service transformation visions. These strategies have a much broader scope than strategies that are focused primarily on using technology to move services online. These new innovative visions reveal a strong policy commitment on the part of governments to take a more citizen-focused approach to service delivery. They advocate taking a government-wide approach to improve delivery, access and reach of government services. And they creatively use technology to support this vision. Accordingly, these overarching strategies have led to the development of specific policies that articulate action plans regarding access to government services. The most innovative countries including the UK, Australia, the US, and Ireland are advocating the delivery of service through modern, integrated delivery channels where citizens can access government by any means. They also The most innovative countries promote the integration of channels so that regardless of the channel of including the UK, Australia, the entry, citizens can get a consistent level of service across all channels. Policies US, and Ireland are advocating that emphasize flexibility of choice in channels for citizens, facilitate service the delivery of service through delivery in remote communities, and support a variety of languages empower modern, integrated delivery citizens to become active partners rather than passive recipients of service. channels where citizens can And that makes them less reliant on overburdened staff who can spend their access government by any means. time with clients who are more urgently in need of assistance. If you are going to take a government-wide approach to service delivery it is imperative that departments and organizations have a single view of the citizen. Policies that offer choice and allow citizens to access services and information by any means are dependent on the sharing of client information across virtual, technological, and physical silos. Privacy, security and governance issues will need to be addressed as will identity resolution challenges. But the benefits are many.
  • 6. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 6 3. Ensure that all citizens benefit from the information society. While governments continue to evolve traditional service delivery access policies for people with disabilities, accessibility to electronic channels has become a particular priority around the world. Governments continue to bring services online, and policies and legislation are being established to ensure that the Web channel can be accessed by all. The international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which promotes a high degree of usability for people with disabilities, is increasingly being adopted worldwide. In Europe, the European Commission’s i2010: A European Information Society for Growth and Employment contains strategies to ensure that all citizens benefit from the information society. Specific countries are expanding on these guidelines with their own policies. In Canada, the province of Ontario has enacted accessibility legislation that provides for the development of standards for accessibility in both the public and private sectors. When citizens can easily access the information and assistance they need, they become more independent and less reliant on government. Americas Europe Canada 2001 Sweden 1998 United States 1990, 1998 Spain 1998, 2005 Brazil 2004 U.K. 2002, 2005 Germany 2002 Asia Pacific Ireland 2002 Japan 2004 Italy 2004 China 1991, 2006 Switzerland 2004 Australia 1996, 2000, 2001 European Union 2004 India 2005 Netherlands 2003 Portugal 1999 Austria 2006
  • 7. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 7 Highlights Assistive technologies alone won’t be enough because they will not make computers and on line information fully accessible to everyone. Designers If you want to ensure that all of typically focus on the characteristics of the average user. But by designing your constituents benefit from the for the average user, we sometimes create unintentional barriers to full information you have to share, accessibility that even assistive technologies can’t always overcome. For consider a universal design example, GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) that allow overlapping graphical approach which is all about windows, clickable icons, draggable functions, and controls that are dependent designing products that are usable on the use of a mouse are difficult for users who are blind or with low vision; by the broadest possible group even with accessibility tools like screen readers. If you want to ensure that of users without the need for all of your constituents benefit from the information you have to share, adaptation or specialization. consider a universal design approach which is all about designing products that are usable by the broadest possible group of users without the need for adaptation or specialization. It takes into account differences in sight, hearing, mobility, speech and cognition, and can benefit everyone; not just people with disabilities. If social programs are to succeed at making information easily accessible to their clients and their staff, they will need to go beyond special technologies that facilitate accessibility and look to universal technologies that are easy to use…for everyone. Universally designed technologies will facilitate greater involvement in the information society and enhance the overall capabilities of your community.
  • 8. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 8 4. Increase the opportunity for professional development. Highlights Organizations that are leading in innovative service transformation are moving more and more toward citizen-centered service. And as they do so, they recognize that services must be delivered by people committed to service excellence. These organizations are making strategic decisions to enhance the professionalism of service delivery agents in their organizations. But this trend is not only about improving services to clients, it’s also about retaining staff. Recruiting and training new staff can cost anywhere between a few thousand dollars and $50,000 in both hard and soft costs. Recruiting and training new In order to retain experienced staff and prepare them for new ways of staff can cost anywhere between working with clients, countries like Australia and Canada, have developed a few thousand dollars and internal colleges to provide professional development for service delivery $50,000 in both hard and professionals, and have created specific career tracks. Other countries are soft costs. In order to retain beginning to include training and development in their overall service experienced staff and prepare improvement strategies. The end result is not only improved service delivery them for new ways of working with and service outcomes; it also improves staff recruitment and retention efforts clients, countries like Australia and by teaching new skills, creating career ladders, and providing opportunities Canada, have developed internal for career development. colleges to provide professional development for service delivery Getting started begins with assessing your service delivery model — both professionals, and have created current and future — and aligning that assessment with the skills and specific career tracks. capabilities of your workforce. Once you’ve identified the capability gaps, you’ll be able to begin creating the training needed to develop those skills from within your organization. This approach will be less costly than bringing in those skills from the outside, and long term both your workforce and your clients will be happier.
  • 9. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 9 5. Enable information sharing across government. The policy direction of “provide personal data once, use it many times” is not necessarily new, but neither has it been widely embraced by government. Recently, the concept has been adopted by several countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Australia. In Belgium, the Crossroads Bank of Social Security (CBSS) was established to manage the secure sharing of information across the 2,000 social security authorities, and this interoperability approach has improved service delivery, reduced citizen wait and travel times, eliminated hundreds of paper certificates and diminished the number of declaration forms. Countries have also adopted data protection legislation that permits the processing and sharing of information as long as specific criteria — such as the permission of the citizen — are met. The governance measures adopted have included the institutionalization of data protection officers and privacy commissioners to ensure adherence to regulations. The UK’s Information Sharing Vision Statement offers a robust directional position on how the government will maintain the privacy rights of individuals while sharing information to deliver better services. Legislation and interoperability frameworks can enable the secure sharing of information. And sharing information across government organizations — a true innovation that has yet to be widely realized — can drive value by improving service delivery, increasing efficiency, and eliminating redundancies. Sharing information across organizational boundaries begins and ends with governance, privacy and security. Once those are addressed, the technology becomes relatively easy. These are not, however, easy issues to address which is probably why cross agency information sharing in not commonly practiced within social services and social security today. So if innovations like citizen centric service delivery; flexibility and choice in access to government services; or client segmentation strategies are your goal, the place to begin is with information sharing. And that means addressing governance, privacy and security.
  • 10. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 10 6. Reduce fraud and abuse through effective identity management and effective privacy Highlights legislation and policy. Various approaches are used across the world to manage individual identity Tough economic times necessitate for benefit and services registration as well as authentication purposes. that organizations utilize limited Maintaining the integrity of the benefits and services delivered is crucial to resources as efficiently and ensure that the right benefits have been provided to the right person at the effectively as possible. The right time for the intended purpose, so that fraud and abuse of the system elimination of fraud and abuse, are avoided. Underlying a solid identity management regime is the need for and a strong identity management strong privacy legislation. In Europe, the Data Protection Directive sets out a regime will provide the foundation wide range of rights for individuals including access, compensation and the for accomplishing this goal. prevention of processing. It also gives individuals rights over their personal information. All member states are required to have legislation in place that meets the requirements of this directive. Tough economic times necessitate that organizations utilize limited resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. The elimination of fraud and abuse, and a strong identity management system will provide the foundation for accomplishing this goal. How do you get started? With your data. Most social services and social security organizations are data rich and information poor. They do a wonderful job of collecting all types of data. But they don’t do a very good job of turning that data into actionable information that can support decision making. Your data must be driven by business needs. Otherwise it’s just numbers that may or may not be useful. A sound master data management strategy is essential in order to ensure data consistency and control throughout the organization. Once your data is in order, you can put the tools in place to help reduce and eliminate fraud.
  • 11. Steps That Social Security and Social Services Organizations Can Take to Thrive in a Weak Economy Page 11 7. Establish governance measures to support intergovernmental collaboration Highlights and partnerships. Governments are beginning to work across departments and across levels of government, as well as with the private sector in order to leverage collective potential and deliver transformed integrated services. This collaborative approach provides opportunities to reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and in the process, create new value for citizens. To allow for this collaboration across organizations and jurisdictions, governments who have achieved success in this area are making use of cross-agency committees and working groups comprised of senior government officials. The UK’s Delivery Council, comprised of department and agency heads, and Denmark’s Steering Group for Cross-Public-Sector Cooperation are two examples of mechanisms that support putting citizens at the center of integrated service delivery. Don’t try to “boil the ocean” Don’t try to “boil the ocean” by defining governance for everything in IT by defining governance for all at one time. Instead, identify the things that are going to make a critical everything in IT all at one time. difference right now. It might be important, for example, to eliminate fraud. Or Instead, identify the things that maybe it’s more critical to improve access to services through new channels. are going to make a critical What are the hot issues that can be differentiating for your organization now? difference right now. Improve governance for these challenges first. A Simple Choice. In a new economic environment, with new demands, the choice is really quite simple: innovation or stagnation. If social services and social security administrators continue to do things as they always have, they will almost certainly fail at meeting these demands. But with new ways of thinking about client needs and program design, and new methods of service delivery and administration; administrators can enhance existing programs and services as well as create innovative new approaches to position their organizations for long-term success. Innovation is not only possible in a weak economy, it’s essential.
  • 12. © Copyright IBM Corporation 2009 IBM Corporation New Orchard Road Armonk, NY 10504 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America August 2009 All Rights Reserved IBM and the IBM logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. A full list of U.S. trademarks owned by IBM may be found at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. GBW03088-USEN-00

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