Richard Waggott (Department of Corrections)

Credit: Supplied

The New Zealand Department of Corrections uses technology to earn the change that really matters: time to do the rehabilitation work.

The department, which employs around 10,000 people and manages 17 prisons as well as the management of probation and rehabilitation services, deals with some of the most difficult people and social situations in New Zealand, said Richard Waggott, director deputy general of the correctional service of people and capacities.

Many of these people had drug and alcohol addiction issues, some were violent, and many were also affiliated with gangs, it was noted. A major challenge was that Maori were overrepresented in the system.

“This is a really important and urgent priority for us as a country and for our government,” Waggott said at a ServiceNow conference in October.

“Our overall goal is to keep New Zealand safe and also to change lives and put people on a better course than when they were taken care of by us,” he said. .

To achieve this, the Correctional Service is the largest employer of psychologists in the country and also has a large number of health workers, educators and case managers.

The well-being and well-being of staff and individuals within the system as well as of communities affected by the criminal justice system was the department’s top priority, Waggott said.

A serious challenge was that the children of people within the system were nine times more likely to navigate it on their own, he said.

“If we can have this right interaction with the right person at the right time, it can not only put their lives on a different course, but can create really different outcomes for their children and future generations of their families.”

Time and capacity

All of this required a strong human resources strategy within the department. The time and capacity available to these people in their daily work was essential. It was at the heart of safety and well-being.

“All the research shows that a busy and complicated system that people rush to is a less secure system than a system where the capacity is there,” Waggott said.

Every minute counted because capacity allowed for better interactions with the people within the system.

“The more people we have engaged in low value activities and the less time to engage with those doomed people in our system is a real lost opportunity.”

This was a known and discussed issue within the Corrections leadership team for some time, but no way to unlock the capacity had been found.

Progress began to be made in 2019 when Corrections hired Deloitte NZ to help them explore ways to digitize the often complex and time-consuming interactions between staff and corporate administration.

A lot of these interactions were conducted by exchanging emails with attachments, but when things weren’t quite right, those email chains could get long and time consuming.

Think big, start small

The vision emerged to create self-service systems that delivered the information required for given interactions to ensure they could be handled successfully.

The approach was to “think big, start small and act fast,” Waggott said.

Matt Dalton (Deloitte)Credit: Supplied
Matt Dalton (Deloitte)

Corrections employees were recognized to spend a lot of time working on internal processes rather than helping those in the care of the service, said Matt Dalton, Consulting Partner at Deloitte. News from resellers.

Dalton, a 12-year veteran at Deloitte, said the consulting firm had previously been involved in a ServiceNow deployment to Canterbury DHB, where it was clear, as in corrections, “the motto was time.” Anything that could be done to free up staff time could lead to better outcomes for DHB and its patients.

This case study resonated with corrections, and the partners embarked on a journey Dalton called “crawl, walk, run.”

The department engaged quite extensively during its due diligence, not only with Canterbury DHB, but with other ServiceNow users such as Kiwibank and offshore users.

The project was also a catalyst for adopting new agile approaches to development.

Deloitte committed in 2019 and embarked on a 12-week sprint before launching ServiceNow’s first payroll use case. The initial goal was indeed a trial of ServiceNow digitizing some “administratively heavy” processes such as payroll, time off, mileage claims, eyeglass claims, and doctor visits.

The initial foray, which put in place eight core services and a case management capability, demonstrated that ServiceNow could increase the number of successful interactions in a given time period and reduce the effort required to do so to the employees.

Case management in particular was huge for corrections, Waggott said. In the payroll, there could be 1,000 cases per week requiring action. For the first time, Corrections got to see it all in one place and it became a catalyst for thinking about improving business.

Continuous improvement

What followed was eighteen months of continuous improvement and expansion into more complex areas, such as reimbursement of medical expenses, through more than three month sprints to provide “value releases”.

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Keywords agileDeloitteServiceNowcorrections departmentlow codegovernmenttransformation