One of the department’s crucial functions is to adjudicate appeals, where social grant applications have been declined by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). The target service level of concluding appeals within 90 days was being missed in more than 50% of cases.
“Missing the 90-day appeals processing target negatively impacted many individuals who are dependent on our services. We needed to improve, to meet our strategic objectives to provide effective, efficient and accessible social assistance appeals services for beneficiaries,” said Moekele.
A new way of working reduces delays and eases suffering
DSD needed a more efficient and accountable way to capture and access documentation. Processing the hundreds of appeal cases lodged by individuals generated significant quantities of paperwork. DSD could not validate all documents promptly in the paper-based records management system, which created a backlog of cases, spurred a high level of litigation, and contributed to associated costs nearing ZAR17million per year.
“We sought a solution that would allow us to capture all documentation, regardless of the channel it was received from. It had to be capable of initiating and managing cases from registration to completion, providing automated alerts, and comprehensive reporting, all whilst complying to the National Archives and Records Services (NARS) Act,” explained Moekele. “One solution stood out and was far superior to that of its competitors: OpenText Documentum.”
DSD worked with local OpenText partner Faranani DocTec to implement the solution, consisting of OpenText Documentum xCP for complete case management, OpenText Documentum Records Management for 100% NARS complaint electronic management of records and OpenText Intelligent Capture for the capture of all documentation. With the help of OpenText Documentum, many appeal cases are now fully resolved within 30 working days.
“We could not have achieved the improvement we have made without the OpenText solution,” Moekele emphasized. “Appellants now have confidence in us and are assured their matters will be resolved quickly.”
In the past some citizens would not lodge an appeal for fear of delays, especially appellants from remote areas and provinces. The OpenText solution enabled DSD to confidently increase outreach, safe in the knowledge that they have a reliable business service delivery model.
“Our new Appeals Business Information System (ABIS), built on OpenText Documentum, provides the necessary notifications to stakeholders of progress or actions required,” stated Moekele. “The solution allows us to escalate cases that are at risk of breaching our service levels. Thanks to OpenText, compliance to our legislative framework is now almost 100%. During the last six months of financial year 2019/2020, we were able to adjudicate and provide outcomes within 90 days in 98.2% of cases.”
Reducing the cost of litigation claims and reinvesting in its citizens
To support the launch of ABIS, DSD digitized and indexed existing and historical documents with the OpenText solution. All new documents are captured or created electronically, and the solution provides faster, more accurate access to case documentation. A comprehensive audit trail and powerful search capabilities based on metadata and content have improved service to citizens, with enquires being much easier and quicker to handle.
“The ABIS digitization and business process automation solution has enabled the department to move to a paperless environment and we have realized significant productivity, service delivery and cost-saving benefits,” said Moekele. “Eliminating paperbased case processing enabled us to drastically reduce litigation liabilities. We are meeting our target processing times, the department has reduced its litigation costs from ZAR17million per annum to less than ZAR1million, with a proportion of that relating to historic cases predating implementation.”
The money saved is being reinvested in improving citizens’ experiences with the DSD by enhancing service standards and business processes, including the administration of appeals. Funds are also being used to increase awareness to potential applicants and beneficiaries of social assistance, informing them of their rights to appeal. In all, the savings are making a difference to the lives of many applicants.
“In the last four years, the department has saved approximately ZAR40million, possibly more, on litigation costs,” added Moekele. “This is largely due to our ability to now deal promptly with matters thanks to the OpenText Documentum solution. This directly benefits the citizens who get their cases dealt with promptly and accurately, but also saves tax-payers money. We also now have the ability to respond to requests for access to information lodged through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2002, further contributing to the huge savings on litigation costs.”
A brighter, more confident future
Thanks to enhancements in quality assurance, the solution also helps DSD minimize human error by alerting staff or making corrections without interrupting the entire value chain. Duplicate records have been reduced and the department has a 99% accuracy and correctness of content rate, meaning the department is better able to deal with cases within expected service levels.
These efficiencies have enabled DSD to scale with demand.