Implementation and Management Approach
The Front Office Employment project constituted a positive experience which was interesting from a collaboration standpoint. Authorities at the federal and regional (Brussels Capital, Flemish and Walloon as well as the German-speaking community) levels were involved under the coordination of the Crossroads Bank for Social Security (CBSS) to create a coherent, practical application.Â
All political levels in Belgium competent in the area of employment came together to adopt a joint strategy. The view points and priorities were harmonised to form a collective project. The CBSS chose to create a partnership where all parties involved maintained their management autonomy but were given direct responsibilities.Â
The whole project was prepared, developed and implemented in close co-operation between all involved actors. Beside these existing formal consultation bodies a number of ad hoc consultation platforms were established between :the representatives of the involved Ministers and the general managers of the involved social security offices; the ICT experts of the involved social security offices, the employers, trade unions and the mandated intermediaries of the employers; subject matter experts from the actors in the social sector for each concrete process revision.
This project is also the fruit of a multidisciplinary collaborative effort. Specialists from various fields such as legal experts, technicians in Content Management System, Rules Engine, web applications, design and usability experts as well as IT experts were involved in the process.
The project was ambitious since its goal was to give the majority of job seekers, employees and employers access to measures to promote employment. To this end, the projectâ€™s partners mobilised the necessary resources to succeed in this ambition. The application was designed and developed to be integrated very easily into the existing websites and to reach the widest audience possible. The underlying idea was to spread as much information as possible to achieve an amplifying effect.Â
To deal with a project of this scope, the partners decided to divide it into phases and various steps. It made it easier to stay on schedule and keep the budget under control. But, most importantly, the stakeholders were able to rapidly see progress and gain a view of the results achieved.
The first phase aimed to create a bilingual access point which was accessible via internet and where the various federal, regional and community legal dispositions could be consulted and updated. The user needed to be able to select from among the best measures given his/her personal situation and based on certain criteria (such as age, sector, region, â€¦). Each of the measures was to be described using text designed to be legible by the widest audience possible, from ordinary users to experts in the field.Â
During the second phase, the application was to be readied to calculate the financial benefit which users could hope to gain depending on the measures applicable to them. Another aim was to plan for preliminary integration of data on the employer and/or job seeker, deriving directly from authentic sources. Use of the electronic ID card through a secure connection with the back office serves to identify the user with absolute certainty. An interactive and repetitive procedure serves to provide users with conclusive results on their situation. The system was to be able to operate with uncertain and missing data to identify pertinent data which could be added to that not initially present.
During the second phase, the website was also planned to be made available in German.
Â The coordination work performed by the CBSS is not over now that the website is online. The platform mustÂ be updated and monitored in order to motivate the partners to keep up their investment in the project.Â The institutions concerned still remain competent for their content and measures and update of the website depends on them.
With Front Office Employment, the measures to promote employment and their benefits can be consulted and estimated electronically and in a personalised manner.Â
1.Â Â Â Â Content Management System (CMS)
It was necessary to collect and analyse the existing measures in force in the area of employment promotion in Belgium and to determine the shared criteria to draft a harmonised explanation of the measures using non-legal language. The goal was to provide an overview of the measures and allow implementation of the texts describing the measures into the application.
The CMS served to facilitate the management of the various versions of one same text and to make the texts available in the three national languages.Â
2.Â Â Â Â Data model
The various measures were analysed to bring out their basic components, meaning criteria first to decide whether or not they apply and then to calculate the benefit as well as the cumulative benefit of measures. This information was modelled, meaning that the basic components, their characteristics and reciprocal relationships were defined based on an abstract view of reality and not on legal concepts.
3.Â Â Â Â Rules engine
Within an expert system, rules are applied to the data model to thus allow for simulations based on rather detailed input.
The results of these simulations should indicate:
- which measures apply
- what the financial benefits are for the various measures (as an indication)
- which data is lacking to be able to provide a more accurate response
The simulation is an interactive and repetitive tool for users. The system proceeds by successive approximations until users obtain a result which is significant for them.
With this type of system, only a few pieces of data need to be input to start a simulation. The other required data is then added, possibly in several steps. The system automatically adjusts its assumptions / hypotheses throughout the process.
4.Â Â Â Â Automatic data integration
The competent authorities decided to use the same identification system already implemented at the federal level. Job seekers/employees are identified using their electronic ID card and employers sign in using a username and password or electronic ID card. This type of identification automatically integrates known personal data from certain databases, thus dispensing users from the need to manually enter the information required to determine whether measures apply and to calculate the benefits. In the future, the use of authentic sources will increase in order to reduce manual data entry to a minimum.
5.Â Â Â Replication
The web application in which the users perform their searches to find those measures which best match their profile was designed to be easily integrated into other web environments. The application can be made accessible via the internet sites of the various administrations which are partners in the project.