Alameda County is one of the largest counties in California, with 1.9 million residents. Like many agencies across the country, the Alameda County Social Services Agency faced a resource crunch and there 2,200 employees were forced to do much more with less. In a report by IBM, Don Edwards, Assistant Director of Administration and Information Services, shares how they leveraged business intelligence and analytics to drive efficiency and improve the client experience.
At the basic level, Edwards and his team tried to emulate the banking industry by brining business practices such as, operational efficiency and short waiting times, to the social services world. To do this they needed a system that integrated all five of the agency's departments into one reporting system. This would allow caseworkers "a holistic view of the customer that takes into account not one facet of a customer’s life, but many—and from it assembles a comprehensive profile of his needs and services." Edwards' hope and message to the directors was that the new system (Social Services Integrated Reporting System) would be more than a technology- it would be a tool that empowered employees to work smarter.
According to the report:
"The key to SSIRS effectiveness is its ability to present a single, seamless view of its customers’ relationship with Alameda’s social services agencies over the course of their lives. It can show, for example, a child moving through foster care to his emancipation as an adult, where he or she may still receive food stamps and other welfare benefits. Such tracking is a means to a greater end."
Gaining this insight was invaluable to the agency because they were better able to coordinate services to match people's needs. Moreover, caseworkers can now proactively help people with expiring benefits or higher priorities because they have real-time visibility into their case. In addition, SSIRS reduced fraud, namely people receiving benefits they’re not entitled to, just by funneling all the information into one system. In just one year, Alameda County saved $11 million.
As Edwards noted, the agency was "data rich, but information poor." By implementing SSIRS they were able to streamline information which improved coordination among employees and overall service to those they serve. This was a great case study to read as it perfectly conveyed the power or analytics. I encourage you to check out the full report here or the video below.
The IBM Analytics Solution Center (ASC) is part of a network of global analytics centers that provides clients with the analytics expertise to help them solve their toughest business problems. Check out their Analytics to Outcomes group on GovLoop.