Can operations be innovative? At UNDP Georgia – absolutely!
10 Oct 2016
We have experimented a lot in Georgia - especially in operations - seeking ways to provide ever faster and simplified services to all our clients, our programme above all. This is how we help UNDP make an even bigger change in people’s lives. So where did it all start?
Long before the ATLAS era – UNDP Georgia launched the Payment Automatization System, allowing for fast bank transfers as early as 2000, when most of the field-based COs took up totwice as much time to do so. This innovation was followed by the Automated Payroll Software – our effort to replicate this success in HR services. We unveiled E-registry software in 2002, which has been efficiently automating office document traffic to this day.
With the introduction of ATLAS, opportunities for optimization increased even more – now the new automated systems could be linked directly to the ATLAS global network, which further reduced workload and time required for financial operations (e.g. we developed Bank Task software to ensure automated fast transfers to all UNDP Georgia clients). At the early stages of ATLAS introduction, when project staff had no direct access to ATLAS modules, UNDP Georgia created the ATLAS External Access Module to provide access to ATLAS services for both CO and project staff. It came as no surprise that UNDP corporately adopted our approach to ATLAS access for all staffworldwide..
Further, to ensure that our clients and vendors were timely informed of their financial transaction’s status, GEO developed an automated email notification system in 2007. Several years later, banks in Georgia created similar systems.
The Corporate Asset Dashboard is another significant success story for UNDP Georgia innovation. In close cooperation with ASD BOM – we created a simple analytical tool for asset management in the COs. Launched jointly in 2013, the system-wide dashboard is still hosted by the UNDP Georgia Operations Team and the user support services are also provided from Tbilisi to all UNDP COs globally to this day.
A commitment to do more with less is what has continued to drive the Operations Team at UNDP Georgia. Most recently, we created an automated system of financial management – dubbed Fin Master - to provide our clients, UNDP Programme and Project staff, with detailed analysis on the financial status of their projects on demand, in less than an hour.
So what’s next? Since 2006 we’ve been running a customized GEO billing system, enabling us to automatically recover service costs from clients (other agencies and projects). After nearly a decade of efficient applicatino, we are now looking into significant enhancements to respond to updated corporate requirements. We are currently in the testing phase of a new module that will link directly with ATLAS. This and more to come in the near future!
Looking back on our experience , we can identify some common ingredients to success:
- Need came from practitioners, not top down;
- The development of solutions was led by practitioners, those who were directly faced by the problem to be solved;
- We allowed sufficient testing time both with internal as well as external clients;
- Success of the new practices was confirmed by replication in other COs and even globally, system-wide
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the spirit of collaboration and culture of innovation nurtured by the office leadership. UNDP Georgia Operations have been empowered to fully engage with our practitioner clients, to best understand their needs and identify truly innovative tools for business process optimization. In other words, we find ways to make an even better impact in the lives of people UNDP serves.