The Shared Services Program will improve dozens of various fiscal/HR processes, which will profoundly increase the quality and consistency of the state’s fiscal/HR services. The list that follows is a brief outline of some the efficiency improvements that Shared Services Program hopes to realize among virtually all processes that are being transitioned from the agencies to the Shared Services Centers. Keen understanding of these program-wide process improvements will enable a more robust conversation about how a given process – being it procure-to-payment, payroll, fixed assets, or any other process – will specifically be improved in the future.
Single Data Entry = Eliminated Inconsistent Data = Reduced Reconciliation = Precise, Real-time Information
In order to perform fiscal/HR services effectively, fiscal/HR employees need timely access to accurate information. Currently, the state stores fiscal/HR information in hundreds of different IT systems, few of which are integrated, so that data must be manually entered numerous times among the various systems. This manual entry inevitably results in errors and inconsistencies among systems that must be manually reconciled. Taken together, the duplicative entry and reconciliation process is extremely laborious and time-consuming, which results in fiscal/HR employees relying on information that is often incomplete, inaccurate and/or outdated. In contrast, the future shared services environment will feature the Illinois Statewide Information System (ISIS), which will house all data related to fiscal/HR processes. With ISIS, fiscal/HR information will only have to be entered once, which will virtually eliminate inconsistent data and the need to reconcile it. This will in turn allow business users to have access to information that is complete and up-to-date, as well as accurate and precise, empowering better decision-making and more efficient processes across the board.
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Automated Report Creation
In order to comply with various statutory, administrative or agency-specific policies or business needs, fiscal/HR offices must produce various types of reports on a routine basis. In the future shared services environment, not only will all the fiscal/HR information be stored in one place (ISIS), but ISIS will also provide wide-ranging functionality, so that these routine reports can be created automatically by the system, virtually eliminating the need to manually produce routine reports.
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User-friendly Ad Hoc Report Creation Functionality
In the current environment, any time a new type of report needs to be created to analyze a new or evolving business issue, the pertinent fiscal/HR information must either be manually collected via surveys or compiled using a specially-created custom IT program. Creating these custom IT programs, also known as "ad hoc" applications, is a laborious, expensive and time-consuming process. The implementation of the Illinois Statewide Information System will provide business users such as fiscal/HR employees with user-friendly report creation functionality, which will allow them to create these types of reports themselves, quickly and easily, without extensive IT support. This will ease the burden on the entire organization and dramatically improve access to important information for fiscal/HR workers.
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Automated Electronic Workflow
Fiscal/HR processes are composed of sets of tasks which must be performed in a specific sequence in order for the process to be completed. This sequence of events (also know as "workflow") can be extremely long and complex, and in the current environment, workflow is often manually facilitated and overseen. In the future, workflow will be programmed into ISIS, which will automatically track task performance and provide electronic notification to fiscal/HR workers to let them know when and what type of action is needed. This will eliminate time-consuming manual routing of workflow, while also minimizing "down-time" and work stoppages. Fiscal/HR workers will be able to better manage their time, and the state will be able to more effectively determine which tasks are being performed efficiently and which tasks need more attention.
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Parallel Work Streams
With fiscal/HR processes, multiple tasks can often be performed simultaneously as long as the inputs for a given task are available to the task performers. With the state’s current processes, parallel work streams (performing closely related tasks at the same time) are not used extensively due to outdated workflows and the inability for multiple users to access critical information simultaneously. As a result, tasks must be completed in purely sequential steps, which increases the time needed to perform a given process. In the future shared services environment, ISIS will enable parallel work streams by supporting more efficiently designed workflows (that won’t unnecessarily require pure sequential performance of tasks) and providing critical information simultaneously to various workers in the process. By performing more tasks at the same time, the overall time needed to perform a given fiscal/HR process can be shortened dramatically.
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Currently, fiscal and HR processes vary tremendously among agencies. This makes it virtually impossible for fiscal/HR personnel at different agencies to share resources and collaborate, since only those workers assigned to a given agency have the training and knowledge to perform processes in the agency-specific manner. Training all fiscal/HR employees on the countless process variations at various agencies in the current environment would be impossible. In the future shared services environment, processes will be standardized, so that they are performed uniformly across the state. This will empower fiscal/HR employees to provide services for multiple agencies, enabling a more efficient and effective use of resources to meet service needs.
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Many fiscal/HR tasks and reports require some type of review by various authority levels within the organization. Currently, decisions (approved, denied, needs amendments, etc.) for many types of reviews can only be provided by physical signature, which means hard copies of requests for review and supporting documentation must be manually routed to various offices throughout the state. This cumbersome, time-consuming and paper-intensive process causes major work stoppages and delayed process flow, especially when documents are inevitably misplaced, damaged, or require edits. To improve this in the future, ISIS is being designed to have what is known as "e-signature functionality," in which reviewers can electronically access information that needs to be reviewed as well electronically enter a decision. Requiring a unique log-in and password for each user/approver will allow the "decision action" to be verified as legitimate. The result of this improvement will be increased rate of service performance and quality control of documents.
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Employee Self Service (ESS)
In the current environment, fiscal/HR offices perform many services directly on behalf of their fellow state employees, such as coordinating the state’s defer="defer"red compensation plan enrollment, employee training, timekeeping and payroll services. In this arrangement, non-fiscal/HR employees are "customers" of these fiscal/HR services and the fiscal/HR personnel who provide them. While hands-on fiscal/HR resources are invaluable to help administer these services, often many tasks associated with these services can be performed quicker and more effectively if the "customer" employees are provided with the information technologies to enable them to perform these tasks themselves. This arrangement is known as "employee self service" (ESS), and will be used extensively in the future shared services environment. For many services, customer employees will be able to directly provide information and perform tasks on their own behalf by accessing ISIS via a computer workstation, and to do so often at their convenience. This will ease the burden on many fiscal/HR employees, allowing them to focus on customer service and answering important questions, rather than facilitating the submission of paper forms and sharing of basic information.
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