The Slovenia Times

How digital transformation enabled ZPIZ (Pension and Disability Institute of Slovenia) extremely fast adaption to the COVID-19 crisis

Health & MedicineScience & TechnologySpotlight

Present is always a result of our past activities. So our agility in the recent years mostly determined how prepared we would face new challenges, including the currently omnipresent COVID-19 crisis. We (ZPIZ - Pension and Disability Insurance Institute of Slovenia) - insure near to 1 million persons and pay pensions and other benefits to more than 630 thousand beneficiaries in Slovenia and 50 other countries. Our activities are diverse, they include more or less every resident and business in Slovenia.

During the complete ICT renovation in the last years, we have built a new information system for comprehensive digital business.

Our modern ICT infrastructure is capable to efficiently support our digital business. In 2020 we started to further modernize our existing Application, Integration, Data Warehouse and Business Analytics environments. Prior to that, we modernized our applications to be sure they are cloud ready, upgraded our software development methodology and implemented fully automated DEVOPS procedures into software development and operations. 

To be able to achieve all benefits of cloud computing, we decided to build private cloud environment running IBM Cloud Pak offerings on Red Hat OpenShift. IBM Cloud Pak for Applications and IBM Cloud Pak for Integration will enable us to run our applications in cloud environment with elasticity we need for our entire ecosystem. IBM Cloud Pak for Data with its modernized data & AI architecture will help us to further improve and containerize our Data Warehouse and Business Analytics solutions to be able to even better and faster analyze and predict complex pension and disability insurance system dynamics and to serve decision makers and public with relevant and high quality information. 

In 2019, we prepared 96 percent of all documents for customers in entirely digital business processes. This is our main digital transformation KPI. This year we will increase it even more.

Our digital business processes support end-to-end activities, integrating our customers (digital services eZPIZ and BiZPIZ) by many channels with complex internal processes which are supported by our internally developed applications for implementation of pension and disability insurance as well as those, efficiently supporting digital document management. Digital processes are implemented with IBM Business automation Workflow, which seamlessly integrates different environments and applications into comprehensive, modern, and efficient digital processes.

Digital processes are enabled by main digital documents repository, implemented by IBM Content management on Demand. It contains hundredths of millions of documents organized by unified metadata in customer's digital files.

70,000 insured persons and beneficiaries use our eZPIZ digital services in the security of their homes. Customers in the premises submit digital claim using electronic signature pads. 

We are excellently connected with our business ecosystem in Slovenia and abroad. With our BiZPIZ digital services for organizations, we exchange 50 million electronic documents and messages per year, which ensures us highest level of automation of our intra-organizational processes. Our digital services are supported by IBM App Connect Enterprise.

The great majority of documents and business messages is received by digital services. To digitize remaining physical documents, we use IBM Datacap. Entire process is fully automated, digitized and optically recognized documents are placed into customers files and trigger corresponding processes and tasks for our clerks.

In the year 2019, we printed 9 million lists of paper less than we would in the old way. Which is equivalent to 45 tons of paper. Savings of the archive space are measured in many kilometers of shelves. But more importantly, digital documentation is available immediately in digital business processes, anytime and anywhere.

Digital transformation has significantly increased the agility of the organization. Tasks can be easily reassigned between employees and departments according to needs, and the effects can be observed with advanced business intelligence system, based on Cognos Analytics and other business analytics and data science solutions. Even greater are the potentials of digital transformation for the future.

So, we confronted the beginning of the COVID crisis well prepared and digitally mature.

Therefore, we could respond immediately to unexpected new demands. In February 2020 we started activities for protection of our operations and critical services. We purchased and prepared more than five hundred of additional laptops, upgraded VPN and collaboration tools. We started scheduling work from home early in March. By the beginning of April, 80% of employees worked from home and it stayed so until end of May, then it decreased.

However, during the second wave of COVID we could reach these numbers again within days. All our results and KPIs during the extensive work from home were at least as good as during the normal months.

Providing the opportunity to work from home to such large proportion of employees is not self-evident. The key to this achievement was the strategic development of a hybrid cloud architecture for digital business, which means, among other things, that employees can work anywhere using their digital workspace, with everything they need; available inside digital business processes - including digital documents, collaboration, security and everything else.

After the outbreak we immediately began to design and develop new digital services oriented to protect the health of customers and employees and at the same time deepen our digital business. Our goals were to provide additional channel to customers to easily prepare and submit eClaims even if they do not have a digital certificate and high digital skills. Thus, we could eliminate most of the remaining paper claims. At the same time, we wanted to be able to digitally deliver documents that we prepare to the customers, even if they are not registered users of our eZPIZ portal (which already can receive documents digitally).

Our new services were: eClaims for ALL, (Remote) Customer Authentication and SMS document delivery. The first service (eClaims for ALL) was implemented from conception to production in three weeks, and the other two in the next two weeks. It is obvious, that coordination phase would take much longer, if there was no COVID. With new digital service eClaims for ALL we have managed to increase the number of received eClaims by 6 times which exceeded our most optimistic expectations.

On the other hand, new SMS delivery service enabled us to expand digital delivery to new customers. After successful remote authentication, we use mobile phone number to provide customer the SMS with link and a security code for retrieving original digital documents prepared for him. SMS delivery is very important service to us, not only because of costs reduction, which is significant, but also for deepening digital business. SMS delivery enables clients to get their digital documents faster.

Of course, the new digital services were not developed only for the purpose of the epidemic, but as a logical rounding off the digital business of ZPIZ in accordance with long-term strategic orientations.

We can conclude, that the COVID crisis had strong catalytic effect on deepening digital business and people were more open to quickly accept changes.  The challenge is, of course, how to keep that mind-set permanently, after the crisis is once over.

We are glad that our long-term collaboration with IBM and the use of their prominent hybrid cloud solutions helped us develop our new information system for comprehensive digital business and thus successfully digitally transform our organization and achieve our business goals. 


Edmond Pajk is deputy CEO, CIO at ZPIZ - Pension and disability insurance Institute of Slovenia - managing ICT department and successfully leading the comprehensive Digital transformation and ICT transformation program at ZPIZ. He is a senior ICT expert with broad range of experiences in ICT development, management and transformation.



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