Ralf Meyer, Advisor for E-Government and Knowledge Management
Public administrations belong to the sectors which have to cope with the fact that many skilled workers are going into retirement. At the same time, relatively few young people are taking their place. This situation is particularly extreme in Berlin – it’s expected that around 25,000 administration workers will retire in the next four or five years. This entails two central problems: The average age has risen sharply due to long-term recruitment stops, and a great amount of specialized knowledge is at stake when experienced employees leave. Furthermore, the Personnel is responsible for making working in the administration sector more attractive to young people. They want to be able to draw from a pool of competent applicants in the future as well.
New, flexible offers are important for this. These include the compatibility of family and career or the ability to work independent of time and location.
The Digital Workplace, with integrated applications for promoting digitalized business processes and for managing knowledge, fulfils these requirements. That’s why the SenFin constructed such a platform based on the software Intrexx. Ralf Meyer, Advisor for E-Government and Communication, views this as a powerful tool, especially the integrated social collaboration components: “With this, we can gather and especially share knowledge more directly and straightforwardly than with FAQs or conventional forums. This is incredibly practical, especially in a time when many employees are retiring and their replacements aren’t certain.”
The Digital Workplace as a living knowledge center
With the social collaboration components of the Digital Workplace, every employee becomes a potential editor. Because of this, the platform is much more dynamic than a classic CMS-based intranet with a central editorial team. Knowledge, produced by group discussions or from posts on the news feed, are available long-term. This allows specialized knowledge from different departments to be collated so that it can help solve individual questions and problems. Furthermore, employees whose knowledge wasn’t fully recognized until now are encouraged to share their experience as well.
To sort, optimally use and archive the knowledge generated here for later access, an individual application was created in close collaboration with the software developer, United Planet. The development concept “from the administration, for the administration” guaranteed that all required functions were included and that the application could be integrated easily into the everyday working.
Sense of unity as a plus point in the “War for Talents”
Another positive effect that can be observed since introducing the social collaboration platform is that it brings people with similar interests together and creates a sense of unity in doing so. One of the current challenges consists of enthusing competent junior employees for administrative working. The Digital Workplace helps administrations to live up to the expectations of the younger generation for a healthy work-life-balance and an exciting corporate culture.
This enables public offices to present themselves as an attractive employer. At the same time, working with technology is a given for junior employees. This, in turn, promotes the entire organization’s flexibility and openness towards innovations in the long-term.
eID authentication: secure access – regardless of where and when
Sensitive data often plays an important role in the public administration sector. SenFin decided to host the digital workplace solution themselves instead of operating the software in the cloud. Meyer commented on this decision: “Because the data in our portal isn’t anonymized, data protection is an especially important subject here. Our data is on our own servers and therefore, we’re not forced to publish the data.”
Additionally, the administration developed a special authentication method that draws on the eID functionality of the nPA (new personal identification card). The particularly inexpensive solution – it only requires a card reader devices and if required, the activation of the new personal identification card’s eID function – provides the employees with secures access to the portal. And all of this regardless of where they are. The employees benefit from greater flexibility because of this – they can decide for themselves, when and where they work. Without compromising security, they can take part in the office’s internal communication and stay up-to-date from home. With the provision of this external access, the senate administration is pursuing the goal of becoming family-friendlier and more attractive to young people.
The authentication method draws on devices from the market leader for chip card readers, REINER SCT. The software behind this was developed together with United Planet and the IT and management consultancy firm Moysies & Partner.
Saving resources by digitalizing processes
The SenFin is not only striving to make information more accessible for authorized employees with the Digital Workplace. A pivotal benefit expected by the SenFin is time saved due to the digitalization of processes.
With this in mind, various regularly occurring work processes are modelled in applications in the Digital Workplace today. Ralf Meyer is excited about the reductions in workload that this has produced: “By digitalizing processes, we save a lot of time and therefore costs. Even for seemingly small processes, such as leave requests, that are now made digitally instead of on paper, we quickly saved 30,000-40,000€ per year.”
An internal ROI evaluation showed that the process of requesting a substitute and then checking the plausibility and availability of said person takes six minutes today. Earlier, when the requests were still made on paper, sent via in-house mail and the absence was added to the wall calendar, this whole process took 22 minutes. With over 500 employees and 8-10 procedures per year, Mr. Meyer’s figures are definitely comprehensible.
As well as leave requests, the Senate Administration for Finance Berlin is gradually modelling more processes electronically in the Digital Workplace. Meeting room reservations, material orders and training requests are other examples of digital processes that were implemented in a manner that saves on resources and speeds up procedures. Sustainably digitalizing the administration has begun with this.
Everything at glance thanks to e-folder connection
An important plus point of the Digital Workplace from SenFin is that information from a variety of sources is displayed on a central interface. This means that employees need to switch between different programs less often.
The integration of data from external systems takes place without complications with the help of the available connectors. Appointments, recent mails and support requests from the IT are obvious and clear at a glance.
Even accessing the e-folder can be done from directly within the user interface of the Digital Workplace. Because of this, the employees are provided with a holistic, mostly process-oriented view of the relevant information. All required processes and data are gathered together on the central platform, meaning employees find what they’re looking for more quickly, are less distracted and can complete their tasks more speedily and easily as a result.
Conclusion: Becoming a modern service provider with Intrexx
The Senate Administration for Finance is pursuing a variety of goals with the introduction of the platform. The internal communication should be improved and attractiveness for young applicants should also be increased. At the same time, the solution should help optimize processes and be accessible securely from any location. Based on this requirement specification, the decision was made to set up an integral digital working environment with the software Intrexx.
Project leader Ralf Meyer is pleased with the decision: “Within a short period of time, we were able to establish a modern working environment and create a constructive communication culture in the integrated social intranet.” Because the platform can be expanded with desired functions, the administration-internal processes can be digitalized deliberately. The direct access to the e-folder from within the Digital Workplace and the authentication with the help of the eID function of the nPA (new personal identification card) round off the entire package and represent an experiential modernization of the administration.
“When interns and students come to us, they’re surprised at how modern the working conditions can be. With Intrexx, we have created a Digital Workplace which improves communication and therefore the collaboration decisively.” Ralf Meyer, Advisor for E-Government and Knowledge Management
Mr. Meyer admits that some of the employees had reservations about the new technology during the introductory phase of the platform, but this is completely normal because man and machine are fundamentally interdependent. For this reason, it was especially important for Mr. Meyer’s team to introduce the staff to the subject with deliberate measures, e.g. with introduction events.
The workplace of the future requires a wide-stretching networking of competences across departments. Success factors, such as knowledge, experience and also creativity, are becoming increasingly important in the administration sector. Therefore, the SenFin placed great value on creating a constructive communication culture by introducing the Digital Workplace.
This provides the SenFin with an important tool needed for implementing the requirements of the Berlin e-government law. As well as the electronic records, the internal work processes, which are to be digitalized by law, can be modelled digitally. Since 01.01.2017, all leave requests from the entire office are processed electronically with the required approvals using the so-called “UrlaubsApp” (Holiday App).