Social Security Board 2014 Awards and Debate

Social Security Board 2014 Awards and Debate

Our Moderator, Dr. Leroy Almendarez, distinguished judges, tabulator, timekeepers, participating debaters and coaches, SSB’s Chairman, Directors, staff and invited guests,…. welcome.

We are delighted to have you here to participate in the 1st debate sponsored by the Social Security Board. Thank you all for coming and a special thank you to the officials, debaters, coaches and, of course, the SSB Staff members who have worked tirelessly to make this event a reality.

From early in my tenure I was of the view that SSB spent a significant amount of time on processes which were not always aligned with the needs of our customers. We dialogued as a team to design a road map which would ensure alignment, and subsequently developed a Strategic Plan, outlining what was required to make our vision a reality. It is at this time that SSB’s Service Transformation Initiative began.

We ascertained that it was necessary to first define our Vision ‘To be a model Social Security institution, the pride of Belize!’ and thereafter, identify the requisite strategies to achieve said Vision. We have determined that to be a model Social Security institution, we must dramatically improve the way our beneficiaries and other stakeholders access SSB information and services available to them during important times of their lives.

In essence, we must make a significant shift from today’s program-based, transactional environment to a new people-focused, service environment.

We have also recognized that our Organizational Vision on Service Excellence will come to fruition through a combination of three fundamental business strategies – a Service Strategy, a People Strategy and an Enabling Processes Strategy. These strategies should ensure that the right customer receives the right benefit at the right time and for the intended purpose.

The Service Strategy represents a new way of developing and delivering service to support the needs of customers. By bringing the voice of the customer directly into the development process, the Service Strategy is people-centred; it will be the framework for the development of service offerings which will be guided by both customers’ needs and a commitment to continuous improvement through service measurement. The service offerings will be delivered through an integrated channel management approach. Channel specific harmonization initiatives, including in–person and outreach services, mail, telephone, Internet and mobile services are an integral part of this service transformation. The objective is to bring these channels together to produce an integrated approach to service delivery for customers and allow them to self-serve as much as possible.

The People Strategy encompasses the learning and training activities which are key to the development and implementation of SSB’s service excellence culture.

Learning sessions have been held and will continue to take place to ensure that when customers come to SSB, they can count on interacting with staff that are able to understand their needs and to provide them with great service. In other words, service will be delivered by service professionals.

The Enabling Processes Strategy to support service excellence will be done through the re-engineering of our business processes, as a first step, and automation thereafter, using an Enterprise Architecture framework. A Reference Architecture approach will take into account both the Business and Information Technology’s current and future strategies. It will also align both Business and IT Architectures and produce a context from which future initiatives, programs and projects can be rationalized, guided and governed.
Communication will be critical during this time of transformation and a specific internal and external strategy is being developed to support employees and stakeholders.

Today’s debate is a part of the aforementioned external strategy and is only one activity in our multi-pronged approach to create awareness of SSB’s Service Transformation Initiative.

In December of 2014 an internal competition, involving all staff, was held and the winning submission was “Be it resolved that the Customer Service offered by the Social Security Board, is one of the best in Belize”.

While there can be a debate as to whether or not SSB should have chosen this topic, I see this as an opportunity to start an external conversation about SSB’s customer service. The debate can be used to highlight our real and perceived strengths and weaknesses. If the team ‘Against’ is the winner, we must then dissect what is real and what is perceived and take the steps necessary to address real weaknesses, and to educate the public where misconceptions are concerned. If the ‘Affirmative’ team is the winner, I submit to you that we still have a way to go.

However, transformation is a journey and for us to improve we must be willing to accept constructive criticism and be collectively and individually accountable to making the requisite changes.

We have spent the past two years examining and preparing, so 2015 should be the year that we inform the public of where we want to go and allow ourselves to listen and again, to be held accountable.

In closing, I would like to once again thank the officials, debaters, coaches and staff for giving so graciously of their time. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the staff in the Communications Unit,…. Gayle, Agnes and Roxanne. These ladies have dedicated many evenings and weekends to make this event a reality and it is important for them to know that their significant contributions are not only recognized, but very much appreciated.

Again, thank you all for being a part of this historic event.