Deltagruppen provides training and support services that help Norwegians find meaningful work. How could it continue to deliver stellar services against a backdrop of rising cost pressures?
Deltagruppen implemented a new collaboration platform that enables staff to simplify their workload and collaborate on projects from multiple locations, freeing them to focus on service delivery.
Empowersstaff to focus on delivering critical social services
Reducestravel costs by 20%, eliminating inefficient collaboration methods
Unlocksflexibility, enabling staff to work collaboratively from multiple locations
Business challenge story
Satisfying the need for cost effective, quality employment services
Over recent decades the labor market in Norway has changed significantly; today, most jobs require specialized skills and knowledge—meaning that many people find themselves shut out of work because they lack the necessary qualifications. To help jobseekers that have low skills or otherwise have difficulty securing meaningful work, the Norwegian government funds social enterprises that develop the abilities of the unemployed.
Deltagruppen is one such organization. It specializes in helping individuals in the Østfold region find purposeful employment by providing advisory services, apprenticeship schemes, and adult education. Deltagruppen relies on government subsidies to fund its work, and is constantly challenged to deliver greater value at lower cost.
Gunn Berthelsen, CEO at Deltagruppen, takes up the story: “Our services are funded by the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV), and to secure funding Deltagruppen must bid for tenders to provide these services. Winning a tender is a competitive process; the government wants services to be as effective and cost-efficient as possible, and we must prove that our services will remain high quality and low cost for the duration of a tender. To achieve this, we constantly look for ways to work as productively as possible across all of our education, advisory and apprenticeship programs.”
She continues: “Providing tailored employment advice sessions and monitoring the progress of multiple jobseekers produces a large amount of documentation, which must then be processed and checked by different staff at Deltagruppen before being sent on to NAV. Previously, we relied on manual, paper-based systems to manage service user information, as well as internal human resources data. We found that this approach was limiting our productivity and diverting the attention of our case workers away from value-add tasks.”
Håvard Lindheim, Digital Developer at Deltagruppen, offers an example: “One area where manual methods were really holding us back was creating reports and proposals for new tenders. We require input from multiple members of the team to compile these documents, and coordinating people’s input was particularly challenging in the past. As only one person at a time could open and edit a document on our system, we often had to create multiple versions of the same document so they could be worked on simultaneously, which led to version control issues and high error rates.
“What’s more, as our old approach to collaboration was based mainly on email and phone calls, it made it difficult for groups of people to discuss issues in depth. This meant it was often necessary for staff to travel from different offices for face-to-face meetings—increasing our costs.”
All of these limitations meant that dedicated staff were having to put in extra time to complete administration and ensure that service delivery wasn’t impacted—time that they could be spending on higher-value tasks to help citizens. Concerned that this was negatively affecting service quality and its competitiveness, Deltagruppen was keen to find a more efficient way of working.
Synergize, simplify, succeed
To ease the administrative workload of its staff, Deltagruppen joined forces with IBM Business Partner Brainworker to implement IBM® Connections™ Cloud—a suite of collaboration tools that empowers employees to work together effectively, from any location.
Håvard Lindheim continues: “To keep winning government tenders and drive costs down, we needed to be able to get through more work more rapidly with the same number of employees. So, we redesigned our working practices to make them more collaborative and searched for a solution that would facilitate this new working style. After considering a wide variety of available solutions, IBM Connections Cloud emerged as the best solution for a number of reasons.
“We needed an out-of-the-box tool that could be fully implemented and ready to use from day one. IBM Connections Cloud offered us this capability, and Brainworker delivered a rapid and effective implementation of the solution—keeping disruption of our mission critical operations to an absolute minimum.
“We were especially impressed with the expertise of Arne Nielsen from Brainworker, who knew exactly how best to approach digitizing our manual and paper-based administration, and trained our staff on how to use the solution to achieve maximum productivity.
“Most of all, IBM Connections Cloud incorporated all of the functionality that we required to transform our working practices—and then some! It includes e-mail management software, document editing applications and powerful file searching capabilities. We operate these features from a secure IBM cloud environment, enabling our staff to work on the same project documents from multiple locations and ensuring that our business complies with data protection regulations. What’s more, being able to access these features via the IBM Connections Cloud mobile app provides us with even greater flexibility.”
Gunn Berthelsen adds: “The guiding principle for selecting and implementing the software for our new IT infrastructure was straightforward: we required a system that would help our employees get their work done in a simple way. IBM Connections Cloud provides us with the tools to transform our working methods and accelerate our productivity without huge cost. To help us achieve this, IBM worked closely with us and Brainworker to ensure that the solution was deployed quickly and professionally.”
Providing a springboard for success
With IBM Connections Cloud in place, Deltagruppen has managed to simplify its workload, maximize efficiency and spend more time refining the quality of its services.
Gunn Berthelsen explains: “IBM Connections Cloud has enabled us to increase employee productivity without burdening our staff with more administrative work. We have digitized documents and streamlined processes, so we no longer have to sift through cabinets filled with paper documents, or juggle multiple document versions when we are composing new proposals for tenders. As a result, our project workers have more flexibility to fit admin around service provision.
“One of the most significant benefits that we have seen is a 20 percent reduction in cost incurred by our staff travelling between our three offices. Indeed, now that we can cooperate via online communities in IBM Connections Cloud, we have greatly decreased the need for many staff to travel between our offices. In addition, we have significantly reduced the amount of time spent completing daily administrative tasks and coordinating the efforts of our team.”
Today, communication between staff on all levels has become much smoother. For instance, regular e-mails with updates on service provision, government decisions and the success of tenders sent by management to all staff were often buried in people’s inboxes. With IBM Connections Cloud, Deltagruppen has replaced these e-mails with a blog, which is much more accessible and convenient for staff. The organization has seen a significant rise in the number of people absorbing this information, helping case workers provide the most up-to-date advice to service users.
Gunn Berthelsen remarks: “Any time and resources saved completing administrative tasks we can redirect into further strengthening the services we provide; devising methods for improving service user engagement, tailoring our advice on a case by case basis, and supporting jobseekers every step of the way on their journey into employment.”
Having supercharged the productivity of its workforce with IBM Connections Cloud, Deltagruppen is now better placed to secure government tenders in Østfold and to begin expanding its operations in other regions.
Gunn Berthelsen concludes: “IBM Connections Cloud has helped us to significantly streamline our day-to-day activities. It helps us to be more agile, deliver efficient services for government and increase the likelihood of securing more tenders in the future across Norway. After witnessing the transformation of our business with IBM Connections Cloud, I would wholeheartedly recommend the solution to other companies and social enterprises looking to achieve similar outcomes.”
Established in 1967, Deltagruppen is a social enterprise that specializes in providing adult education, career advisory services, and access to apprentice schemes for citizens of Østfold who are either unemployed or wish to improve their employment prospects. Sitting as an intermediary between government and the local community, Deltagruppen provides a voice to individuals out of work and education.
- ICS: Connections
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Connections Cloud solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/products/en/ibm-connections-cloud
IBM Business Partner Brainworker is a leading social business consulting agency based in Norway. It specializes in providing consultancy, training, and workshops that help social enterprises realize their maximum potential and achieve optimum effectiveness with digital collaboration solutions.