Automatic IT

Automatic IT

Business functions such as accounting, logistics and human resources have all benefited from IT-led process automation — everyone, it seems, except for the IT department itself. But that’s all changing thanks to the growing acceptance of automated process management systems

An Age-Old Problem

When Australia’s Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency turned to an automated process management system, the result not only made the business more efficient, it also made for a happier IT team

For the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency, the opportunity to automate its manual IT processes came in the guise of a project to streamline and refresh the processes of the entire organisation.

Aged Care is an independent body responsible for managing the accreditation and ongoing monitoring of government funded residential aged care faculties in Australia.

According to its director of information services and products, David Cooper, the refresh — called Better Business — was initiated to bring together a decentralised, customised and aging system designed in the late 1990s and replace it with something more centralised and efficient.

“Basically our IT shop was small, and in our case we were probably spending 100 percent of our time ‘keeping the lights working’,” Cooper says.

The decision was taken to recentralise IT in a replacement environment built around a customer relationship management system and database for tracking interactions with aged care facilities.

The goal was to take all of the manual processes around that activity and automate them, linking various systems such as its Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint servers using TIBCO’s ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks.

The first project went live in April 2008 and related to the administration of the audits of nursing homes.

“There is a set of very precise and defined and regulated procedures around many of those audits, and we need to have a process of managing to those regulations,” Cooper says.

“It is a very defined work process and it actually sits quite well with an automated process management system. It is a much more robust, reliable, accurate and accessible set of information that we have — it is virtually real-time information.”

Cooper says Aged Care now has a much better view of the organisation’s workflow in the process and is also better able to allocate resources, such as assessors, because it can shift workloads with the push of a button.

And while the results are good for the business, and have also resulted in a happier IT team. “We are quite a small shop,” Cooper says, “but they have a much more robust set of infrastructure and applications to deal with and they have a good knowledge of how to deal with those applications and how to manage them.”

“We also have the capacity to get out our reports much more rapidly and with much more confidence that we don’t have to go through manually intensive reconciliation processes.

“It is a project that you almost dream about. It has certainly put in place the ability for the organisation to fundamentally change the way it works. There are very few projects that you come across that actually deliver that.”

Cooper believes that part of the reason why the project ran smoothly was because Aged Care runs a small IT group.

“We didn’t have a disadvantage of having a lot of legacy systems that we needed to carry with us and that removes a whole layer of complexity obviously.”


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