27 June 2011
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has more than halved the average time it takes for a person to get an identity document (ID), thanks to the implementation of its turnaround strategy, which was introduced in 2007 with the major focus on ID-related processes and customer interaction.
Detailing the success of the turnaround strategy, Deputy Director-General Avril Williamson said the department had been reduced the turnaround time for an ID from 127 days to less than 45 days.
In June 2007, it took an average of 127 days to get an ID, with some customers waiting as long as 250 days, Williamson said, adding that the long wait resulted in some people applying for multiple IDs, while others had to renew their temporary IDs a number of times.
There were long queues, frustrated customers, complaints and bad publicity. In addition, there was no mechanism to track and monitor the status or progress ID applications and backlogs.
“The ID book production process was analysed and a new end-to-end process was designed, reducing the production steps from 80 to 15,” Williamson explained.
Track and trace system
Some of the new measures introduced included a track-and-trace system, which requires staff to scan IDs in and out of each stage of the process, allowing the turnaround team to understand how much time an ID spent in a given section and to locate slow areas.
The track-and-trace system was also extended for other documents such as passports, birth, marriage, death, citizenship and late registration of birth certificates.
The department introduced the online verification of fingerprints, which enables temporary identity certificates to be issued immediately.
The introduction on new fingerprint scanning machines saw the turnaround time in the fingerprint verification section being reduced from 27 days to four days and 236 000 backlogged records cleared, Williamson noted.
Performance targets set
Department officials were organised into teams, a front office checklist was developed to ensure that application information was correct and complete, and implementation teams were trained.
In addition, individual and group performance targets were negotiated with staff, visible daily monitoring was introduced and quality reports were produced and distributed.
The strategy also resulted in a more efficient contact centre that answered 95% of calls in 20 seconds and resolved 90% of calls on first contact.
“The department now has an in-house capacity to roll out this approach to other areas of service delivery such as permits,” Williamson said.