Nassau, The Bahamas – Officials at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development (MOSSUD) and the Department of Social Services are excited about the prospects for digitization of certain client services following the conclusion of the Beta Testing Exercise for participants of the Department’s Food and Rent Assistance Programmes, who were awaiting replacement cards.
Team members were also able to begin the process of digitizing the Department’s client database, initiating the transition from a 100 percent paper-intensive operation to a digitized database.
“I am confident that the efforts of my Senior Team and Technical Officers to move the Ministry from a 100 percent paper-based agency to a more digitally prepared organization will result in a win-win scenario for all concerned,” Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell said.
The digitization and technological transformation is part of the wider social reform underway at the Ministry and the Department that will provide clients with speed, efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services while improving the customer service experience for both internal and external partners, and maintaining proper records that support accountability. Officials say the results from the Beta Testing Exercise are promising, across the board.
Minister Campbell said his initial expectation of success prior to the launch of the Exercise was based on determining whether the digitization process would be feasible and effective in achieving the desired outcomes so that those services could be offered across the board. He said while there were some “bumps in the road,” the Beta Testing proved that the digitization of services will be effective in accomplishing those objectives.
The Beta Testing was facilitated by Kanoo Apps (Food Assistance), OMNI Pay (Food and Rent Assistance) and Cash ‘N Go (Rent Assistance). Team members from the Social Assistance Customer Call Centre and the Information Technology and Communications Unit, both new entities within the Ministry, worked closely with representatives from the three providers on the collective goal of ensuring that the best results were had for all, and that clients received a better customer service experience.
“We have gotten tremendous benefits from the Beta Testing Exercise as a result of the efforts of everyone involved and so as we proceed we will be able to give expanded service to a larger number of our clients,” Minister Campbell said. “Initially, we wanted to test the process in a very real way in order to meet our desired outcomes and to make whatever necessary adjustments prior to rolling out the plan out to all of our clients. We are definitely at a further place than we were before we undertook the process (as) we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“There is always a period of transition with digitization and modernization, but the Unit and Call Centre, along with our three providers, have all done a very good job of answering the many questions and guiding users through the exercise and the system. We were all able to experience the joy emanating from those participating in the Beta Testing Exercise when they would have received their assistance and as a result, we know that we will be able to replicate that to the wider community of persons whom we serve.”
Minister Campbell said the Beta Testing Exercise also resulted in an increase in the number of stores that were being actively pursued for on-boarding for participation in the Food Assistance component. An additional eight stores – including some small to medium-sized businesses in communities across New Providence -- are being targeted in order to provide clients with the option of shopping as close to home as possible.
The Exercise was also able to plan for, and address, the immediate shortfalls of some of the country’s most vulnerable persons -- the elderly and some persons from the community of persons with disabilities -- who would still require having their food vouchers printed digitally “for the time being” due to a lack of access to the requisite technology.
“In order to ensure that the needs of both communities are met in the interim, we will continue to provide them and/or their agents with digitally produced vouchers while we continue to work to ensure that those persons are on-boarded, that they are inputted onto the digitized platform. But our intent at the end of the day is to ensure that everyone receives their vouchers electronically, making this a purely digital platform.”