Having won the Ministry of Social Development’s case management system business, the Irish suite Curan has a strong chance of taking over other functionality from MSD’s legacy systems — provided the software proves itself.
If Curam — an extensive social services suite — provides the functionality promised at a reasonable cost, taking on more of its modules when the time comes would make more sense than investing in a number of new systems, says Work and Income deputy chief executive Ray Smith.
Curam’s main function is to provide an integrating layer above the legacy systems, Swiftt for benefit payments, Solo for employment services and potentially the student allowance system, as well as relating to systems looking after other social needs, such as Housing New Zealand.
This will provide functionality that has been lacking in Swiftt for tackling the progress of clients, their current situation, needs and skills, as well as the services being provided “rather than simply being a product and payment system”, Smith says.
Swiftt did not have the flexibility to allow such upgrades to account for the changing way MSD relates to its clients. Staff members on today’s systems “need to keep all those connections in their heads”, says former CIO Christine Stevenson. Her title is now deputy chief executive people, capability and resources.
Even the client management system, though, could in the medium term take over from the legacy systems some of the business rules for calculating entitlement to benefits, Smith says.
First, however, comes a pilot. This will replicate the basic functions of client management in a “small and controlled way, using some of the commonest scenarios we’re aware of”, rather than the whole range, says Stevenson.
Integration with the existing systems will be the most challenging task. A proposal tender has gone out for a development partner to perform this integration. The partner will be chosen in about November.
MSD is conscious of the need to build its own expertise in Curam CMS and potentially its other functions, and the ministry is looking for a partner willing to train internal staff.