Case CBS

CBS

Employee Registration Application (ERA)

Employee Registration Application (ERA)

The CBS (Central Bureau for Statistics) has redesigned their employee registration application. With this application the career development of employees is registered. For example education, knowledge, competences and personal growth plans are recorded in this application. As CBS requires its employees to be increasingly self-sufficient, the organization wants more user-friendliness when it comes to changes in application design. Paul van Venrooij, ERA project leader, took the initiative in this project. Van Venrooij knows from personal experience that the CBS management guides the employees based on the application.

Paul van Venrooij, CBS

Faster decision making, less dependency

Paul van Venrooij explains: “Changes in ERA were previously always made using tools from the Microsoft Office Suite and database software. Decisions in the change process surrounding the application were therefore difficult to trace. That was due to the diversity of tools. The custom software, the satellite system, did not seamlessly connect to the business information system. We had to get rid of that. The most important wish of the CBS was that for employee registration the entire process for the new application would be mapped. The process had to be set up in such a way that the stakeholders – in this case the Human Resources department and the management – could make the right decision faster. Regarding the redesign of ERA, the most important requirement was that a complete and understandable design document was delivered, based on which the management at CBS could have the new application set up in an understandable, fast, flexible  and independent manner. According to van Venrooij the CBS Employee Registration Application has been adapted more often in recent years to the preconditions of the new application, but these could only be executed by one person. As a result the CBS became dependent on the knowledge of this person. “With the new application, CBS management has been given the opportunity to let the ‘business’ decide on how to set up and manage the application” Van Venrooij explains.

Cause and consequence

The ability to adjust HR processes has traditionally been complex for CBS. Van Venrooij continues his story: “Making selections and subsets on databases was a time-consuming task. Changing selections in the old application and for example, writing letters, was done using construction work in MS Access. On top of that management often had to consult various employees to get the right documentation if they wanted to change anything in the business information system. This was an opaque, error-prone and time-consuming way of working. This was because the database design did not allow you to make changes if you did not have the latest updates to the database software. As a result, we had little insight into the process of providing information. In order to solve this problem, it was decided to call in the help of PNA.

Approach

Van Venrooij let PNA investigate the information needs, with the aim of finding out how the processes work and how you can achieve unambiguous definitions. It soon became clear what the impact of unique definitions on certain fields in the business information system was. To start off, PA mapped out both the concepts and the processes. Since the primary focus was on the processes, these were drawn up entirely in accordance with the open standard BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) of the Object Management Group (OMG). The sum of all processes and concepts constituted the guideline for the change plan. PNA then tackled the substance by means of analysis using cogNIAM (Cognition Enhanced Natural Language Information Analysis Method). During the analysis, PNA discovered a number of inconsistencies within the regulations and definitions. In order to clarify these inconsistencies PNA used interview techniques to develop the analysis. Subsequently PNA consulted the documentation of the old employee administration application and the regulations relating to the registration of employees within government agencies. When all relevant information was gathered, PNA ensured that all phases of the redesign process were methodically mapped out. To this end, a document was drawn up which was very favorably received by the CBS. For the CBS it is now clear how each phase of the entire application and the associated procedures must be completed and what the pre- and post-conditions of each phase are.

Advantages in use

As a result of PNA’s work, the CBS has a documented design in which the complete redesign process of the application is comprehensibly described. For the development of this application CBS can now proceed with a clear, unambiguous description. In the first place this provides the advantage of a good input for the development. Standard functionality and customization have become a lot more transparent. Secondly the design now offers all the information needed to test the application more thoroughly. This will make it possible to register and monitor the career development of employees more efficiently and will allow CBS to see why certain decisions were made.

Finally this design provides an unambiguous understanding of the various terms used in the employer registration application. Van Venrooij explains: “The practical result is that within the ERA a query can be requested with a simple selection, without first having to describe in detail what you want. A selection option in the text field allows you to quickly tick what is needed. This is a process that previously had to be programmed. Now you can simply select it with a drag-and-drop function and you quickly have what you need. That lessens the dependency on the IT department.

Savings and convenience

Where is the financial benefit? Paul van Venrooij indicates the strength of PNA’s solution as follows: “The method of PNA enables us to quickly map out the entire environment and the information requirements. This high tempo was achieved because the number of interviews was limited. In this case, seven people were interviewed in a timespan of three weeks. The unique definitions resulting from the interviews were incorporated into the documentation within one week. The return on investment with this approach is therefore considerable. A first proof of concept with standard functionalities was realized within two weeks. An additional advantage is that the database consultants were immediately provided with readable documentation on the basis of which they could build customized solutions on which the CBS itself could build”. Van Venrooij continues: “The PNA approach has made it clear what is happening in the process. What used to be only possible with words, can now be done with texts and easily readable process diagrams. This not only saves many hours being burned by an endless back-and-forth of questions between colleagues, but also provides us with a lot of clarity and ease of use. With seven people, three separate interviews were conducted. In total, one week was spent building. Approximately 80% of the functionality is present in the business information system, where information can be extracted from the database in an easy way. The savings realized for the CBS amount to about €100,000.00 compared to an investment of approximately €10,000.00 and it was done in only a few weeks!

Further reading
The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration is one of the largest government organizations in the Netherlands. They are constantly faced with legislative changes that need to be implemented in its IT systems. PNA’s Cognitatie makes it possible to implement these changes faster and allows you trace them back to the source.

Case Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst)

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