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Lauri Esko February 12, 2020 0 Comments

During a partnership that began in 2015, Finestmedia transferred the previous outdated information system of unemployment insurance to a modern, easily manageable platform and made the unemployment insurance benefit procedure at the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund fully automatic.

Under the cooperation agreement, which resulted from a public procurement, the Finestmedia team along with partners from Datel began to analyse the 15-year-old information system of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The old platform, with its monolithic architecture that had undergone repairs for years during expensive development and maintenance tasks, caused difficulties in the exchange of data and could not offer a smoothly running service. For example, incorrectly entered data caused delays in procedure and therefore in payments of various benefits and subsidies.

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

How did we do it?

  • We job-shadowed the daily lives of Unemployment Insurance Fund employees conducting the procedures in order to understand the business logic of the system and recognise the greatest challenges of the previous platform. Remarkably, this approach also helped to improve the mutual understanding between Unemployment Insurance Fund employees and the developers. In addition, it increased the employee’s faith that in the long run, the disturbances in their daily work that inevitably follow any innovation would make their work easier and more convenient.
  • As a result of observation, analysis of business processes and long meetings, we decided that the new system must be modular in order to ensure its reliability and manage its various components more flexibly.
  • In association with the Unemployment Insurance Fund, we outlined all the services and functions of the information system, recognised the challenges and agreed upon principles that must be followed in the new system.
  • We set our most important goals – speeding up the application procedure and increasing the number of applications submitted via the electronic service. In order to achieve them, we had to ensure better integration between the self-service environment and benefits procedure, work experience calculations and other functions and databases to reduce the time it takes for the employee to enter and check the data.
  • The implementation of innovations, including redundancy benefit, insolvency benefit and unemployment insurance benefit transition, took place step by step during the agile work process. This step-by-step transition was a great challenge for the organisation as, despite the updates, we had to ensure the smooth supply of services, and for the employees it meant that, for nearly a year, they had to use two systems in parallel.

As a result of the partnership, the services of the Unemployment Insurance Fund were made future proof by moving the services (unemployment insurance, redundancy and insolvency benefits, and EU recovery procedures) from the old platform to the new, and updating work processes according to business needs. We created a central insurance period calculation module, which also processes employment abroad, and automated the procedures for unemployment insurance benefits recovery sent from European Union countries.

The unemployment insurance benefit went through the most significant change as its procedure was automated. This means that in most cases, a person applying through the electronic environment receives the allowance decision almost immediately. The system checks the validity of the data, makes necessary inquiries to various databases and decides whether the person qualifies for the allowance, during which period and in which amount. After making the decision, the system will also notify the applicant.

In addition, the work of the Unemployment Insurance Fund is easier now due to the fact that if before a member of the board had to confirm the decision package manually with a digital signature, then now the decision package is confirmed automatically with a Digital Stamp that has equal legal power to a signature. The new system has also automated the termination of the unemployment insurance benefit if the person is no longer unemployed. All of this saved the organisation valuable working hours and money on future developments, and helps to offer clients of the Unemployment Insurance Fund faster service than ever before.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund makes 1,350 automated unemployment insurance benefit decisions on average per month and 1,215 unemployment insurance benefit termination decisions. This means that nearly 50% of all decisions regarding the unemployment insurance benefit and unemployment allowance today are fully automated.

Comment from the Unemployment Insurance Fund:

“We wish that in the future, the computer will do all the technical work that it is able to do faster, better and more effectively than humans. The use of artificial intelligence and smart solutions is not necessarily a goal for us – we have only invested in it if it helps us solve tasks more reasonably and cost-effectively.

The new digital solutions of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund have received a lot of positive feedback. In addition to the Unemployment Insurance Fund being awarded the “Digital Act of the Year”, the development of fully automatic unemployment benefits procedures received recognition from the Estonian Association of Quality competition “Quality Act 2019“.

Erik Aas, Member of the Board at the Unemployment Insurance Fund

As a result of the implementation of the new platform, the Unemployment Insurance Fund:

  • has an environment that is more manageable, has greater functional opportunities and is more flexible if changes must be made in the future;
  • has remarkably reduced the time of benefit application procedures;
  • has increased the number of users of the electronic Unemployment Insurance Fund;
  • has saved on valuable working hours;
  • has created a system that knows how to prevent errors caused by the human factor and delays in the procedure of issuing benefits.

The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund is a legal person in public law that began its work in 2002, acting under the Unemployment Insurance Act.  The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund organises unemployment benefits with the aims of providing partial compensation of income during a job search in case of unemployment, reimbursing the employee for dismissal in case of redundancy, and protecting employee claims in case of the employer’s insolvency. The Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund implements labour policies in order to ensure the highest possible employment of the working-age population and to prevent their long-term unemployment and exclusion from the labour market.