Having a child life-event service
Estonian Government has launched an action plan for life event service design. The target is to have by the end of 2020 seven life event services designed and live. One of the first of these life event services is having a child service that has the first part of it, proactive offering of the family benefits is live since October 2019. It means that once the birth of a child is registered and given a name, an email is sent to the parents to receive family benefits.
In the end of 2018, Estonian Government Cabinet approved the action plan for life and business event service redesign, which has a target of 7 event-based services live by the end of 2020. In Estonia, life and business event services are defined as public services that are provided jointly by several authorities and with a maximum of one user interaction so that a person would be able to perform all the obligations and exercise all the rights conferred on the person due to an event or situation. An event service compiles several services related to the same event into a single service for the user.
Whereas in most countries event services are one-sided way of providing information about the services organised according to the needs of users (life or business events) on a central website, in Estonia we have a more complex approach. Our objective is to automatically and proactively offer in case of a life event a person services related to that event through web applications. One of the first life event services to be fully redesigned and developed is having a child life event.
There are 12 public services related to having a child from the registration of the pregnancy to the family benefits provided by 7 different public sector organisations. Most of these services can be applied for after the birth of a child – the time when parents need the most to spend time with their new-born. The problems with the services are following:
• Lack of proactivity – users must apply for the services and if the user misses the deadline of the application, they will be ineligible for the services later or it requires extra effort afterwards.
• Services related to having a child are fragmented between different authorities and service channels. It is difficult to a have a wholesome overview of all the services related to having a child life event.
• In some cases, the same information must be provided to different authorities (e.g. bank account number).
• Some services processes are paper-based and doubled both on paper and in the information systems.
• Different service maturity between authorities and central and local governments.
This October, the complete having a child event service was redesigned and prototyped. As a result, the future having a child life event will differ from current situation as following:
• Services related to having a child are integrated into one user experience.
• All the services will be provided by proactively or automatically to the user.
• The user’s interaction with the state will decrease from 10 to 4 interaction (the registration of pregnancy; the acceptance of paternity; the approval of family benefits and parental leave; the naming of child).
In parallel to the redesigning and prototyping, the first part of the having a child life event service was developed and went live in October. It concerns automation and proactive offering of family benefits. Once the birth of a child is registered in the population register and given a name, the Social Security Board will send an email to the parents to receive family benefits and the parents can either accept or reject the offer via Social Security Board’s self-service portal.
The next step is to automate rest of the services related to the having a child in the same way and start a similar process with all the other event-based services. At the moment, 4 other life event service (death of a relative, getting married, retiring and going into the military service) are being redesigned and prototyped like the having a child life event service.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Many countries are redesigning their public services by the life event based logic, but most of these countries consider life event services as one-sided way of providing information about the services organised according to the needs of users on a central website. In Estonia we have a more complex and ambitious approach. Our objective is to automatically and proactively offer a person in case of a life event services related to that event through web applications as one user experience.
The family benefits service is the first automated and proactive event-based service in Estonia. Before, parents had to apply for the family benefits after the registering the birth of the child, now once the birth is registered in the population register and the child is given a name, the Social Security Board will send an e-mail about the family benefit offer that parents can either accept or reject.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Currently, the first part of the redesigned and prototyped having a child event service, the proactive offering of family benefits, is developed and live. Next steps are:
• Automation of rest of the services related to the having a child (ongoing)
• Redesigning and prototyping 4 other life event services: death of a relative, getting married, retiring and going into the military service (May 2020)
• Developing a uniform development and management model for event services (May 2020)
• AS-IS mapping of 10 other event services and creating an action plan for their further development (December 2019)
Collaborations & Partnerships
• Expecting families and parents of new-borns were involved in user workshops in order to map user needs and validate the prototype.
• Government officials from 3 hospitals, 2 local governments and 5 authorities were involved throughout the design process (AS-IS and TO-BE workshops, validation of the results).
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Proactively provided family benefits:
• Parents of the new-borns – family benefits are provided proactively to the parents via a portal without having to apply for them.
• Social Insurance Board – no need to process applications anymore as the service is provided to the parents automatically based on the data in the databases.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
As the proactive family benefit project has been live for less than 2 months, there is no solid metrics available yet. The Social Security Board pays family allowances to 156,000 people and parental benefits to 19,000 people for €44 million each month. The biggest impact for citizens will be time saving and for the public sector both time and money saving because there is no need to process applications anymore. Before implementing this solution, 30% of the customer support calls were related to the application of the family benefits and 30% of the applications were not correctly submitted and parents had to submit additional information or documents.
In the future, there is a plan to measure all the life event services at least in 4 categories: user satisfaction, time spent, cost of the service and number of use cases.
Challenges and Failures
There have not been any significant failures or setbacks yet. In case of the automation of the family benefit service, one of the biggest challenges was to define all the business rules, their interdependence and making sure there are no loopholes.
In case of designing the new having a child life event one of the challenges was to agree on the scope. In order to keep the scope manageable, it was agreed upon that the main flow (services that apply to most use cases) will be the first to be developed and once this is done, services related to exceptions will be added.
As life event services include services provided by different organisations, one of the challenges is to agree upon the development and management model of the event services. Three alternatives to the model were proposed and the most suitable one was chosen by public sector top managers during 3 workshops (approx. 60 managers).
Conditions for Success
Successful implementation of event services requires to have a certain degree of ICT maturity, i.e. a minimum critical number of digitalised services that can be appropriately identified, triggered, and implemented without human intervention during event service delivery. This requires the readiness of the workplace and the agency's work processes to function 24/7 and the national technical interoperability of the various parties.
Political will and readiness as well as top managements support is needed to guarantee that it is a priority on the national scale as it requires greater cooperation between different parties.
As all the public proceedings and service provision is based on legislation, it is crucial that the legislation that supports and allows proactive service offering.
The automated and proactive family benefits offering can be replicated in many other application based services. The same logic will be used for the rest of the having a child life event service development, as well as all the other life event services. This innovation can be replicated by every public sector organisation that has the necessary ICT maturity.
• Services that apply to most use cases (the main flow) should be the first to be developed. Once the composition of this has been done, exceptional services could be added.
• Major simultaneous developments with too broad of a scope should be avoided. The maximum scope should not be more than 10 services.
• It is important to agree upon the management and development model of the life event services. It should be done before starting the development of a service that involves different authorities and agencies.