The Ministerial workflow solution
What is Slipstream?
A typical government department replies to thousands of correspondence items written annually to the various ministers. They also prepare hundreds of briefing reports and responses to parliamentary questions. Traditionally, departments have managed this vast quantity of ministerial work through a combination of manual processes and basic tracking systems.
Slipstream is a ministerial workflow solution that automates and manages this critical aspect of government business. As well as powerful workflow capabilities, the system incorporates directory services, a fully-integrated electronic document management system, scanning capabilities, comprehensive reporting capabilities, and integration with Microsoft Word.
Slipstream produces many tangible benefits: The workflow engine allows each department to develop ministerial processes that align with their own ‘best-practices’. Its powerful reporting capabilities deliver an effective way for departmental officers to monitor work activity and progress. For the executive users, Slipstream provides succinct reports detailing the productivity of the department across the various organisational units. For the end user, Slipstream provides comprehensive ministerial item and attached file searching capability — all of which helps to improve productivity though the elimination of lost time and effort associated with manual item tracking.
Slipstream delivers a positive user experience. The system has been designed to keep the complexity under the covers. A simple, intuitive interface is complemented by the ability for users to customise their work area to suit their needs. Slipstream has the look and feel of commonly used Microsoft products, allowing users to leverage their existing skills and experience with those products and be productive within minutes. The end result: a simple, highly usable, intuitive interface leading to high levels of user acceptance and minimal training requirements.
Why choose Slipstream?
Slipstream is built to handle Ministerial business. Slipstream is not a general-purpose workflow application that has been re-written to handle ministerials. Rather, it has been designed from the ground up for the exclusive purpose of managing this important aspect of government business.
Functionality. Slipstream is a feature-rich application with functionality that exceeds that of competing systems.
Technology and Architecture. Slipstream has been built on a multi-tier COM+ architecture that uses XML to communicate. This architecture provides a high level of scalability, stability, reliability, and performance.
No dependency on other products. Slipstream has been built to operate stand-alone. With its in-built workflow, directory, and EDMS functions, no further software licenses are required. But if you have you own directory system or EDMS, we can integrate those too.
Ease of Use. Slipstream has an intuitive user interface that has been designed to provide power and flexibility to the everyday user, whilst also providing occasional users with a hassle-free experience. The system has undergone extensive useability testing and consistently achieves high levels of end-user satisfaction.
Total Cost of Ownership. Purchasers of Slipstream can choose between a number of software licensing models that maximise value whilst keep costs to a minimum. Low up-front and ongoing maintenance costs are important, but we also provide cost-effective customisation and integration services, as well as delivering significant savings on end-user training.
Return on Investment. Slipstream is a sound investment for most government or agencies. Coupled with a low TCO, Slipstream delivers proven productivity gains (including dramatically improved turnaround times), a reduction in maintenance and support costs, and minimal requirements for end-user training.
A complete customer service package. Westbourne Consulting is not just a software company. For many years we have provided system integration services to our customers. We pride ourselves on providing our customers with a complete package – systems, integration, training, and support. We demand the same level of service from our partners, so you can be sure your investment will yield maximum value.
Case Study: DITR Ministerial Workflow Solution
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources engaged Westbourne to design and build a ministerial workflow, scanning, document management, and directory system. Named ‘Slipstream’, the system provides comprehensive ministerial workflow management and tracking functionality, and includes powerful searching and reporting capabilities. Slipstream has been designed to operate and integrate with the department’s standard desktop and database operating environments.
The Business Problem
The Department replies to thousands of correspondence items written annually to the various ministers. They also prepare hundreds of briefing reports and responses to parliamentary questions. The department has traditionally managed this vast quantity of work through a combination of manual processes and a basic tracking system.
In engaging Westbourne, the department sought to automate the ministerial management process so as to provide significant improvements to work practices, better tracking and greater accountability of ministerial items, and to provide ongoing cost savings.
The Previous System
Under the previous system, Ministerial Liaison Officers (MLO) entered the data for ministerial items into the TRACE database as each item was received in the department, or as each briefing document or parliamentary question is initiated. The MLO Officer printed the information, photocopied any attachments, and bundled the information together into colour-coded manila folders. The folders were assigned to the appropriate departmental officer for processing, before being returned to the MLO. The MLO printed the correspondence reply letter or briefing document and couriered it to the Minister’s Office for signing. Upon signing it was passed back to the MLO who in turn sent it back to the department for filing. All metrics relating to the time spent in the various functional areas and the time taken to complete the item were collated manually.
Slipstream is designed to automate the manual ministerial workflow process. As well as powerful workflow capabilities, the system design incorporates directory services, a fully integrated electronic document management system, scanning capabilities, comprehensive reporting capabilities, and integration with Microsoft Word.
Westbourne assembled a highly skilled and capable project team to cover the project management, architectural analysis, business analysis, development, testing, and documentation requirements. Through the course of the project, Westbourne worked with the department to further develop the requirements and business rules, so as to reflect best practice in ministerial management.
The team developed a custom user interface to provide data entry, workflow management, imaging, and other business functionality. System users have the ability to organise their ministerial items as they receive them, and perform ad-hoc searching on the items and their attached documents. Advanced searching capabilities also include the ability to search on the history status of ministerial items throughout the entire system.
The system incorporates scanning capabilities and electronic document (EDMS) integration, allowing incoming correspondence to be attached to ministerial items. This minimises the need for photocopying and reduces the incidence of ‘lost letters’. The processing of correspondence received by the department is thus significantly improved through the introduction of these technologies. Integration with Microsoft Word takes the form of automatic generation of ministerial documents such as briefing documents and replies to correspondence. Slipstream is tightly integrated with the EDMS, meaning that users are not required to have knowledge or understanding of the underlying EDMS—they are able to concentrate on the task at hand while the technology works behind the scenes.
Westbourne developed a directory system that not only provides directory services to Slipstream, but also operates as a standalone corporate system. The directory system allows users to maintain their own personal details and gives system administrators and division representatives the ability to update the directory system to reflect the structure of the department as it changes over time.
The system includes advanced reporting capabilities, with users and management able to see at a glance the status of all work in the system, and to measure the effectiveness of organisational units against departmental benchmarks.
Benefits of the System
Since becoming fully operational within the department, Slipstream has been widely accepted and utilised to its full capabilities. User groups have quickly accepted the transition from a paper-based workflow to an electronic system. In that time, a Slipstream support team was established to provide phone and monitoring support to assist with the changeover.
Slipstream produces many tangible benefits. Its diverse and powerful reporting capabilities produce an effective way for departmental and executive officers to monitor work and process benchmarks. Time lost manually tracking items has been virtually eliminated by the comprehensive searching functionality, which provides users with multiple search levels and attached file searching capabilities.
End users also have the ability to customise their work area through a variety of means; through Keylists (specialised item filters), field choosers, and other user options. Slipstream has the look and feel of commonly used Microsoft products, allowing users to leverage their existing skills and experience with those products and be productive within minutes. This has resulted in a system that minimises training expenditure, and has lead to high levels of user acceptance.
For the executive users, Slipstream provides succinct reports detailing the productivity of the department across the various organisational units.