June 20, 2016 | Written by: Paul Dommel
Categorized: Social Programs
We recently completed our International Social Sector Forum (ISSF) in Berlin, Germany. Social Programs clients from around the world shared the best practices and challenges they face in delivering results. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and approaches in a penalty-free environment. It is important to us as well. It helps us to understand what is working, where industry leaders are moving, and what needs improvement.
We organized the Berlin ISSF around 3 key topics. Each topic addressed how technology supports new business models.
- Simplify processes
- Increase coordination across the ecosystem
- Improve access to information
As government leaders spoke, an underlying theme emerged. “Meet them where they are.”
Bundesagentur fur Arbeit (BA), the public employment organization in Germany, started the ball rolling. If clients want on-line services, BA will be there. If clients will benefit from mobile solutions, BA plans to be there.
Governments are quickly catching up to approaches used by commercial firms around the world. There should be little need to visit an office to process routine transactions. Corporations use flexible platforms and analytics to tighten relationships with clients, reduce costs, and improve client satisfaction by reducing paperwork.
“Meet them where they are” underpins approaches by government leaders in Belgium, Austria, Australia, Japan, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands – and many other places. The Veterans Benefits Administration in the US has used that concept for its technology investments. It has eliminated long backlogs associated with benefits applications – cutting paper-intensive processes and sharply improving service to veterans.
Some ISSF participants are finding ways to deliver solutions more quickly. They are convinced of the value of technology. For them, the challenge is not to control deployment with rigorous development processes, but to move faster. VDAB is the Belgian public employment agency. VDAB has created a fast-action lab. The lab uses agile development and experimentation to rapidly identify and prototype solutions that change lives. I’ll write more on VDAB as part of my next post.
The social programs leaders at ISSF are urgently focused on new ways to work. The goal is to improve outcomes for their clients. They also need to manage tight budgets and workforce challenges in their own organizations. Technology helps them to simplify operations, work collaboratively, and improve decision-making. Increasingly, they are meeting their clients, employees, and partners where they are.
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