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Case study: Smoothing workflow

Case study: Smoothing workflow

Part of ARN's Business Solutions Below the Line, this case study looks into how Dataract helped one education organisation to improve operational efficiency

With just five per cent of its workflow being completed within agreed service times, Teacher’s Health Fund was facing a ticking time bomb before customer dissatisfaction erupted. Dataract was able to turn the situation around completely through a well-designed and implemented workflow management solution. MATTHEW SAINSBURY reports.

High volume, time sensitive, manually entered data work – such as in loan origination or claims management environments – has all the potential in the world to be a genuine pain point for an organisation.

Failing to deliver adequate service levels will, in turn, bog down a call centre environment, as irate customers look for explanations on why the claim hasn’t come through in time. And, ultimately, irate customers lead to the competition snatching your business. It was a problem facing Teacher’s Health Fund when it commissioned ISV, Dataract, to provide it with a workflow solution. At the time, just five per cent of its total work was being achieved within the company’s service level timeframe.

“That doesn’t mean they were necessarily far out of service level, but it did mean they weren’t meeting their KPIs,” Dataract CEO, Craig van Zeyl, said.

The ISV provided Teacher’s Health Fund with a product called e5 Workflow – a solution designed to help manage resources and their availability to make sure the right resource is doing the right type of work, while also improving workload management. Core to the solution is the ability to manage the end-to-end cycle, while making certain that a quote to have a piece of work done on Wednesday is done on Wednesday. Secondly, the offering was aimed at addressing the issue of compliance. Each time a piece of work is done it follows a set pattern with set controls as set out by e5 Workflow.

While it was an easy rollout from a technology perspective, e5 Workflow required an organisational shift, which was a significantly weightier inhibitor for the customer.

“Because all the work is visible all the time, you can’t hide anything. If you do something wrong, it’s visible,” van Zeyl said. “The challenge is in getting an organisation to shift mindset from the ‘I’m doing something wrong, how do I hide it’, to ‘we don’t do things wrong on purpose, so how do we do something better’.”

That shift in attitude is a difficult one to simply overcome, but successful rollouts for the e5 Workflow, such as with Teacher’s Health Fund, have proven it more than possible, van Zeyl said.

“The good organisations have the management in place to put a positive play on it, and actually leverage it towards a positive outcome – those are the ones that we see are successful,” he said.

Outcomes

e5 Workflow worked wonders for Teacher’s Health Fund. By September 2009, the organisation was processing within service level 94 per cent of the time and had, at the same time, increased the throughput of work significantly.

Teacher’s Health Fund was also able to move 15 per cent of its back office processing staff into the front office member services, and redeploy 15 per cent of its human resources from a reactive process to a proactive one.

The biggest impact, however, was once there was over 80 of processes completed within service level, call centre calls dropped noticeably.

“The members weren’t calling up anymore to say ‘where’s my claim’,” van Zeyl said. “That’s a pretty good indication of whether you’ve improved customer service or not.”

Teacher’s Heath Fund has since engaged Dataract for further optimisation exercises including process optimisation and process automation projects. These were the ‘next phases’ in an overall solution, van Zeyl claimed.

“It’s a lesser challenge, but integrating these processes into business systems is a technical challenge,” he said.

“We’re sitting on a Microsoft platform – Sharepoint and SQL – and that’s very well known and understood by the industry, and very well supported, but even with that level of understanding there’s some nervousness that needs to be overcome by keeping things really simple in the first instance.”

Teacher’s Health Fund represents a typical solution and rollout for the ISV. Dataract also counts NIB health insurance as a customer and is in a similar stage of process optimisation and process automation with the organisation.

“It’s much the same pattern,” van Zeyl said. “NIB deployed this business process optimisation or management in the first instance to manage work – there is a relatively low level of complexity, but a very broad reach.

“Once they’ve achieved stability and SLA control, consistency and metrics, then they had the confidence to work with us to go to the next level, and that’s been the standard process.”


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