PROCEDURAL REVAMP ENABLES AGION TO DIGITALISE SUBSIDY CASES
AGIOn (Agency for Infrastructure in Education) manages the subsidy landscape for private, local and provincial education. As employees managed thousands of paper cases every year, there was a need for extensive digitalisation to help with the quick and efficient processing of cases. That is why AGIOn and LoQutus jointly started the ‘ALPHA’ project in 2010: AGIOn Launches a Procedural Revamp with Ambition. The objectives? An optimised process, a quicker case processing time and a smaller error margin.
AGIOn deals yearly with more than 1000 cases and this is a complex situation as, very often, multiple schools, construction sites and contractors are involved in the same case. To start with, there is the need for every contractor and invoice to be assessed. This is then followed by a basic agreement that determines the subsidy. For this procedure, AGIOn has to respect the laws and regulations of the Flemish Government regarding the quality standards for calculating subsidies and rules of financial audits. Every case, therefore, consists of different sub-cases with their own processes that have to be strictly adhered to. The agency only has limited budgets and, as a result, the cases end up on a waiting list for some time and are then processed in batches. The manual processing of these cases is a consuming full-time job for AGIOn’s case managers. Further, answering questions from a school, the Parliament or a Financial Inspection Department makes the procedure even more complex as this requires extra research work that adds up to the many updates, changes and reports.
The agency also calculates the subsidies manually. A third sore point is that, because of a lack of standardised letters, people have to deal with a lot of different letter templates, which greatly compromises communication consistency. In short, it was time to move away from paper cases and to fully embrace the sophisticated world of digitalisation. It was time for ALPHA!
AN AMBITIOUS PROJECT
LoQutus coached and supported AGIOn in every step of the procedural revamp. Four developers, two architects, an analyst and a project manager from LoQutus fully embraced AGIOn’s processes and procedures and further improved the ALPHA project over a period of three years in close consultation with AGIOn’s core team. The procedural revamp took place in three phases. The first phase addressed the processing of a standard case from the application to the final approval. The second phase followed up and further processed the case’s approval. Finally, the last phase consisted of seven distinct procedures.
It soon became apparent from the analysis that the management process was not sufficient to support the management of the cases. This was due to unforeseen events taking place during a case and the mutually divergent angles of each case. Based on a number of concepts from Adaptive Case Management (ACM), LoQutus was able to offer solutions such as a central dashboard showing the status of a case, expert consultation with other AGIOn departments and case manager training to become ‘knowledge workers’, etc.
EFFICIENCY IS A KEY CONCEPT
Each of the sore points gets addressed. For example, the process of opening a case is now the same in all cases. AGIOn uses electronic formulas via Microsoft InfoPath Services. The case manager contains more than 100 letter templates that include contextual information and personal contact data for any outgoing communication. The incoming communication, in turn, is digitalised and gets added to the case. Accessible and efficient.
ALPHA provides the Head of Department with a current and transparent online view of the waiting list, including the exact figures and budgets. Previously, he had to capture, approve and pay the subsidy manually, this is now done via a direct interface with the existing accounting package. Smoothly and correctly.
ALPHA also handles the complex calculation of the subsidies. This is a great advantage for the case managers, as every step of the calculation can now easily be referred to. Finally, AGIOn can now also manage and amend the calculation rules. Transparent and flexible.
Over 20 check lists, composed in total of more than 200 different checks, guarantee the adherence to the standards and the regulations, irrespective of changing laws or procedures. Flawless and up-to-date.
The architecture of the solution is designed as a Case Management Platform for case management and grafted on AGIOn’ specific needs. From now on, every case will be opened in a standardised manner and there is a choice of more than 100 letter templates that include contextual information and the case manager’s personal contact data. Each case is added to the waiting list and can, at any time, be viewed online by the Head of Department. The smart integration between Microsoft SharePoint and Excel helps the easy processing of dozens of difficult business folders by managing the extremely complex calculation of the subsidy. It is also possible to add exceptions and extra calculation rules on an ad hoc basis. AgilePoint provides for process support and manages both the manual and automatic tasks.
Many of the dispatched documents contain sensitive information. That is why people opt to sign payment certificates and overall endorsements electronically with the electronic identity card (e-ID).
Through further trainings, AGIOn will also be able to create reports, without the intervention of an external partner.
With its strong knowledge and experience in the processes of application-integration, LoQutus successfully lets all the components communicate seamlessly together.
READY FOR THE FUTURE
ALPHA is also more to AGIOn than a mere procedural revamp. Its increased transparency and individualised reporting has meant that the agency has been able to fully opt for a world of sophisticated digitalisation.
This has also opened perspectives for future developments. An electronic office window can easily be opened to support the customer and provide an overview of his current case at any given time. As a result, case managers are able to improve the efficiency levels, as it allows them to reply to phone enquiries about key information faster.