Faced with a need to fast-track the delivery of wage subsidies during the pandemic, the Victorian government used a single Salesforce platform to replace 12 separate grants management systems.

Jobs Victoria delivered the platform with the assistance of KPMG after the government set aside $619.4 million in the 2020-21 budget to help job seekers to return to the workforce.

Dubbed ‘Vantage’, the single platform is used to provide grants of up to $20,000 to employers to hire certain types of job seekers on either a part-time or full-time basis for 12 months.

Jobs Victoria technology director Steven Ryan told Salesforce’s World Tour in Sydney in April that the platform provides “one view of everything” for the first time.

“If you think about a grant, it’s that lifecycle from the initial application, the assessment of it, the approval of it, the grant execution and the payment,” he said.

“Through that whole lifecycle, we’ve used the public sector cloud. We’ve got Vlocity in there, the whole grants management data model, built off that.”

KPMG’s national head of Salesforce capability Alex Moreno, whose team was involved with the project, added that “full integration for disbursement” has also been built in.

“So, we have that end-to-end flow of application through to money being dispersed into bank accounts,” he said.

From 12 to one

Ryan said that when Jobs Victoria first launched prior the pandemic, the experience was “disjointed” for the user, which subsequently led to a lot of inefficiencies for government.

He said that included “a lot of manual handling of data, a lot of transfer of data, and all the checks and balances that go into place for that”.

With a significant increase in the number of job seekers, Jobs Victoria needed efficiencies in order to get through grant applications faster.

“We drove out of two key principles. Firstly, take no-one backwards… and get it all in system,” Ryan said, adding that that was achieved by getting down to one system.

“For example, through those 12 systems, we know that at least four of the systems in there [were] about data manipulation, cleansing and data, so that we’ve got that integrity. 

“A key part of [grants] is getting money out to applications, but doing it securely with the right level of integrity and credibility that you need in an environment like this.

“So, stripping those four out, by getting rid of data cleansing and manipulation, that’s about a one-person effort… that we can put into grant application assessments, which helps speed that process.”

Next steps

Victoria Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions technology and insights executive director Brad Petry said that with the team close to finishing off work on the grants process, Jobs Victoria is now looking ahead.

“We’ve got some really exciting products that we’re going to put on top of Vantage over the next few months,” he said.

“The first one will be our advocates’ application,” which will give Jobs Victoria advocates “an interface on an iPad [that] they can [use to] talk to job seekers.”

Advocates assist job seekers to find information, and can connect them with work, skills training, career counselling or other mentoring opportunities.

In addition to new features that improve the platform, Petry considers integration the “next stage” for Vantage.

“We’ve sort of ticked the first box. Yes, you’ve built the capability, you’ve got the platform up and running, and you’re getting things running end-to-end.

“But now, we think that the value is going to come from our ability to layer all of those things together and really integrate all of those journeys and interactions with our customer groups.

“So, if a job seeker registers for our online matching platform, but also speaks to a career counsellor and then gets a job, we want to be able to see that journey… and give them the next best action.

“There’s a whole range of different things that we can do with [Vantage].”

Jobs Victoria is also considering how it might apply native artificial intelligence features such as Einstein to fraud detection and queuing management, for example.

“Because the foundation is there, it’s built in a scalable way, we’ve thought about the data model from the beginning, [Jobs Victoria] can now start to layer on AI and analytics in an intelligent way, and without having to refactor and rebuild or change your data model,” Moreno added.

“That’s been something that’s always been on the roadmap, but we’re doing it in a logical sequence, to build the foundation and go fast, then go fancy.”

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