Simplifying bureaucracy

AMA streamlines “Citizen Spaces” with SugarCRM

DRI was chosen by The Portuguese Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA), in a public tender, and tasked to implement a new tool to expedite several processes and services, regarding citizens’ pension funds, driving license, social security, and several others. The purpose of the project was to replace the existing system — based on proprietary, expensive software — and improve performance, usability and interaction.

By aggregating several services from different entities in one single place (“Citizen Spaces”) , life is made easier not only for people and businesses, but also for the entities involved, that may free up their services. DRI’s solution is a set of software and hardware tools that several users with limited IT knowledge use, with little training, and that helps citizens connect to official services. It binds together applications from other services, under a common umbrella. The solution was built in only 3 months.

In the first nine months of usage, the application is in use by ~469 users in ~143 different locations. In the near future, this will grow to about 1000 locations, with about 2000 users. Results are quite promising, with average time to resolution coming down to 03:14 from 07:48, average waiting time down to 13:24 from 21:25, a total of 144 request types to 19 different public and private entities processed by the application. The request types catalogue and the number of the entities covered are growing every month.

The Portuguese Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA) is a public institution that aims to support the information society and ensure simplification of bureaucracy to enable electronic administration. Their purpose is to facilitate the relationship between citizens/enterprises and public administration and improve the efficiency of its services.

Bureaucracy is a problem almost everywhere, and Portugal is no exception. Frequently, official documents require several forms, different services to visit, and long waits. By enabling citizens and businesses to contact one entity, electronically identify themselves, hand in the required information and have the requests automatically delivered to the relevant services, AMA would revolutionize the efficiency and relationship with government administration services.

Our goal was to provide an application that would bridge several other applications, from different entities. A unique system that would help users find their way through a maze of tools to help different people with different needs.

The development of our new system, is clearly a success story. DRI delivered a solution that is extremely user friendly, and has had great acceptance by users of all ages and backgrounds, helping us increase efficiency in several areas.
 — José António Rodrigues, IT Manager at AMA

To tackle this challenge, we had a team with several different profiles (user experience designers, graphic designers, software developers and process engineers), visit Citizen Space service desks and engage with users to fully understand their pains. These visits led to process design and experience mockups. Several technologies were researched to make sure that all functional details were accomplished in the most efficient manner, and a solution was born.

AMA systems architecture

Essentially, our architecture contemplated a SugarCRM based solution that was used for backend users, analytics, reporting and configuring applications and request types, and a client portal, built on Angular.js and Symfony, where citizens and mediators (people whose job is to help citizens find what they need and engage services) would interact with several different applications.

AMA console homepage
A simple console. The first step for everything!

A solution that bridges solutions of several public and private entities.
Our solution bridges solutions of several public and private entities.

The project is clearly a success. Generally, efficiency is much higher, and it’s easier for users to find work way through the system. They focus more on the citizen’s issue than on data entry:

  • Processes are made easier: the ability to swipe an ID card and locate information about the citizen that users are talking to, get all key data in a single location and drill down into service specific applications.
  • Effective time management: It is now much easier to navigate and service the citizen, because all instances have a common starting point and an interface that guides the flow.
  • Diminishing human error rate: Using custom designed desks, citizens and officials work collaboratively on forms and documentation leaves less room for errors.

Also, some numbers about the solution’s first nine months of life:

  • In use by next to 500 users, in 150 different locations;
  • Average time to resolution coming down to 03:14 from 07:48;
  • Average waiting time down to 13:24 from 21:25;
  • 144 request types to 19 different public and private entities.

The solution adoption was great, and every week another another Citizen Space gets on board. Soon the entire country will be covered. AMA is quite proud of the outcome of the project, and so are we.