The State Treasurer of Ohio works hard to fulfill many different financial programs for the citizens in Ohio. As each new program is created and teams are hired to manage them the complexity grows. One such program was the AgLink program which had built a sizable staff over 30 years. This team had to manage the thousands of farmers and bankers filling out complex forms, sending in repeat follow up information, and managing a complex algorithm to determine priority in who receives approximately 100 million in bank loan funding each year. How do you automate a process that requires this much human intervention?
Each year farmers from across the state have to work with their bankers to fill out an extremely complex set of forms. Forms require personal information, prior funding from the program, military service history, type of agriculture, etc. Farmers and bankers then go through a series of back and forth steps to ensure the forms were filled out and mailed in properly. State employees had to manually enter data into a spreadsheet, read and approve each request, and request additional information within a few weeks from both parties. After all the paperwork was accepted funding had to be allocated based on a scoring system that took into effect recent deaths in the family, military service, prior year funding and many other factors.
A single website was created to handle all communication. All information was either entered in the online forms or if it was sent outside the system was able to be scanned into the application to keep one unified location for communication. A series of dashboards customized to each user role showed them what still needed to be done to complete the application. Automated emails went out in real time to inform farmers information was needed, then to bankers to confirm information, then to staff to approve, then back to the farmers for the next step. All communication, reminders, and data collection became fully centralized with a signification reduction in human time needed and data entry errors.
The system reduced in and outbound calls to nearly zero. For the first time bankers had the ability to quickly manage all their customers in a single location. Repeat usage grew considerably because farmers and bankers were able to quickly copy information from previous years. The state saved a considerable amount of money on salaries by reallocating the entire team to other projects that were not automated yet. Overall the staff was able to be reduced by 4 FTE positions with this single application. Approximately 1,000 farmers apply to receive 100 million in funded loans each year by the program. The system ranks all the applications in less than 4 seconds (down from the previous 2 weeks required for the manual process).
4 FTE jobs reduced
Instead of two weeks