The days of filling in a multitude of different application forms or waiting in queues, are fast coming to an end as the Brunei public now have a convenient and easy way to access their welfare benefits.
A nationwide digitalized social welfare system known as “Sistem Kebajikan Negara” or SKN aims to revolutionize the national welfare scheme with the introduction of an integrated platform that is readily available to serve the needs of the people.
Launched on the 15th July 2020, developed by Dynamik Technologies, SKN is an online service that has been designed to provide a centralized “citizens welfare benefits” platform for the nation. In short, it is an online service available at your fingertips accessible via your smart phone or laptop, wherever you may reside in the country.
SKN was developed for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economy and other agencies such as the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah aimed at aligning the processes involved in the provision of assistance by the respective agencies.
With the introduction of an online welfare system, the relevant agencies aim to ensure that citizens who are entitled to benefits can utilize SKN and apply directly for the relevant welfare packages easily and efficiently. SKN also aims to provide a comprehensive database which can be easily managed and continuously update applications thereby providing highly accurate, real time information. It also serves to effectively manage the welfare funds as well as equally provide a transparent database which can offer an insight into areas which are in greater need of assistance. Through the data collected in SKN, it can serve to pinpoint areas where poverty and unemployment rates are high and seek to provide solutions aimed at the betterment of society.
SKN has been designed to be easily accessible and information gathered in a streamlined format. The applicant only needs to access the SKN website and provide the relevant details and documentations. An email address is then required to access SKN services and to remain informed on the progress of their application. The applicant’s details are classified, and they can access their online account anytime through secure authentication.
Another advantage of SKN is that it will have profiles of applicants’ demographics highlighting their family background and the type of assistance required; all under a secure, digital folder that will greatly reduce otherwise time consuming manually driven systems. All information remains private and confidential in regard to the “digital identity” of the applicants. All this will enable welfare applicants to apply for their required benefits easily and efficiently.
With SKN, this adds to the growing portfolio of citizen centric services where the people are at the forefront. With the increasing reliance on digital services and the advantage that technology can have in terms of outreach, SKN intends to reach the people without having to leave the comfort of their own homes or those living in less accessible areas with limited modes of transport or other various reasons. Citizens can save time and money accessing the services online.
Apart from highlighting the advantages and benefits of SKN, an important element to the formation of the system was the collaborative effort between the public sector and the private sector agencies working behind the scenes. SKN is a creation of an “inter Ministry framework” which included building a consolidated system and providing the opportunity to upskill employees, share ideas and overall improve public administration services through the use of technology.
Whilst we are happy to utilize digital technology embedded through our everyday lives such as a laptop or smart phone, understanding the way a digital public service platform is created and the expertise and digital skills required for its application can seem overwhelming. More importantly, how is it that people can embrace change when new systems such as SKN are introduced?
Generally, organisations of different types and sizes can find it difficult to adopt to a new system of working and prefer not to partake in the “digital evolution”. The old mindset of “we’ve always done it this way” can pose some challenges to the somewhat visionary approach aptly quoted by George Bernard Shaw of “progress is impossible without change”.
Changing the way of doing things is not often easy. It takes vision, cooperation, brainstorming and ultimately, acceptance. The old adage “If it’s not broken then why fix it”? is usually the rhetorical question when any form of new changes are suggested, however, our twenty first century world, is a world which is “fast results” orientated, it is not one to be left behind and every second on this multi-faceted landscape sees yet another introduction of new technologies, data driven cities and netizens who require faster and efficient services.
Yet, the underlying message of any change within any organization seems to be one of “adaptability” as generally, people do “adapt and adopt” to change; albeit sometimes reluctantly but, nevertheless, they do. Once the barriers of resistance are let down, and learning new skills is seen as a necessary “call to action”, change can be successful. Viewed from a wider perspective, change management is not only about investing in digital transformation strategies, it is, investing in the future.
Effective long-term change management therefore must provide the tools and the expertise towards enabling digital transformation. It must realign the way that changes are to be implemented and utilized and, ensure that everyone working within the organization is able to perform the jobs to the very best of their ability.
Not only must change be a team effort but organizations need to ensure that any new changes are conducive to the workplace. Steps that organizations take to provide top level guidance that is managed, implemented, and maintained from a grass roots level is therefore an integral part of success.
How then do we apply effective change management strategies which enable digital transformation?
Over the past 2 decades, Dynamik Technologies has played an integral role in introducing national flagship projects and embedded in each system implementation is the requirement to ensure that the system is understood and adopted by the users.
One of the critical elements in change management is having a clear objective that needs to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders. In the case of SKN, there were many benefits and advantages in having the system for both the citizens and the relevant agencies. The benefits for the relevant agencies and overall for the Government, can be seen as the “push” factors and the benefits for the citizens are considered as the “pull” factors. In other words, the change then becomes necessary and should outweigh the tendency to go back to how things were done.
Other important elements include understanding all the stakeholders involved especially those who would be impacted by the introduction of the system. Understanding requires gathering existing processes, engaging in dialogue how the processes can be improved through the system and facilitating how it can be seen from the citizen’s perspective for it to be a citizen centric system. While on paper this seems straightforward to do, engagement at various levels is required and ensuring that the message is conveyed consistently yet tailored to each respective process owner. With SKN being a multi-agency collaboration with many process owners, it was important to take the time to have such dialogue so that everyone was on the same page and to ensure that the system would be fit for public use. It has also been best practice to appoint change agents who will be able to advocate the need for the system and the need for change.
With any change brought about through an introduction of a system, it is necessary to plan for the change. SKN’s eventual user group were the citizens who would apply for the welfare benefits but to ensure that the information was cascaded correctly, local village leaders were also educated on the system. Managing the change meant that it was important the communications were planned, identifying the target group, the key message and the eventual channel that would be utilized to cascade the information. Marketing and promoting SKN included organizing roadshows, media campaigns over television, radio and newspapers and other public awareness campaigns via social media platforms.
The measurement of success of any change is the adoption of the system which as of October, SKN has seen almost 14,000 registrations since it had launched and close to 6,000 applications. Spreading the word will be a continuous process until such a time the number of registrations would have reached critical mass that automatically the citizens will turn to SKN to apply for welfare benefits. As part of being a citizen centric service, the relevant agencies will formulate ways in which to improve SKN so that it can continue meeting the needs of both the citizens and the agencies involved. Over time, with more data collected through SKN, pertinent issues can be identified, and appropriate actions can be taken.
The development of systems such as SKN is integral to creating a more digitally connected society and will continue to pave the way for more wholistic citizen centric services that will enhance and transform the way organizations deliver services to the citizen consumer. With an effective change management strategy and plan, people will be able to quickly adapt and accept the changes being introduced thereby demonstrating to the citizens the advantages of utilizing technology and is pivotal of how changing with these “digital times” can be successful.