HR modernization at the Portuguese Ministry of Education (TEIA)

Published on: 11/06/2007
The Government Department for Human Resources of the Ministry of Education's prime and strategic organisational objective over the past couple of years has been the implementing and achieving of high standards of Customer Service Satisfaction. This was achieved through concentrating on two priority areas, namely: 1. Improvement of internal and external interface processes 2. Raising standards in Human Resources to effective and efficient working levels. Hence the ‘TEIA’ project was born, aimed at promoting Investment in Human Resources at DGRHE and following the principle of ‘Putting People First’, focusing on four key areas: Technology, Involvement, Computer Systems and Improvement.

Policy Context

Making Public Administration more citizen-friendly and promoting economic development was one of The Portuguese Government’s strategic objectives. This was achieved through the re-organisation of its central administration, thus reducing costs and improving efficiency, as well as re-structuring and simplifying its central structure. In addition, it promoted the decentralisation of job functions, the re-alignment of job positions, modernisation and computerisation of procedures. Thus the Public Central Administration Restructuring Programme (PRACE) was put in place, outlining the following objectives: Increasing citizen proximity through re-alignment and decentralisation as well as using new channels of communication and setting up new services (call-centres, The Internet, Places Serving Various Areas); Improving its general working practices, procedures and consequently staffing skills within the Central State Administration. We feel this project embraces not only the spirit of PRACE but also works alongside The Administrative and Legislative Simplification Programme (SIMPLEX) by making the country more competitive through simplifying procedures and reducing ‘red-tape’. To sum up, DGRHE combined more efficient Human Resources with the introduction of new practices and procedures, making it possible to provide a more efficient and effective Public Service, capable of dealing more closely with the citizen’s needs, in a modernistic and reformist spirit at all levels of Public Administration. The Government Department for Human Resources of Education is an official State body which reports directly to The Ministry of Education, which in turn ensures that policies for the development of Educational and Non-Educational Human Resources are carried through, providing all necessary technical and general support. Both the fact that Human Resources Management is done through electronic mail, namely through on-line applications (, and also that out target public is not just made up of Portuguese citizens but other nationalities teaching in Portugal, means that this project can be considered to be beneficial for all European Citizens.

Description of target users and groups

The target Public of this project is a mixture of teaching and non-teaching staff, at pre-school level and at stages one and two of primary and secondary education totalling nearly 236,000 people.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

None. Multi-channel issues: Using continuous assessment as a basis, our goal lay in improving current working procedures and implementing new ones, among others: 1. Electronic On-line Applications. With the upgrading of systems then in place and e-mail communication, it was possible to reduce the number of candidates that had been excluded from provisional listings from 15.9% in 2005 to 2.7% in 2006. Easier access to, and greater efficiency in processing information, thereby replacing paper constituted a unique instrument in Public Administration, which had wide potential. 2. Cyberposts – Schools that were prepared to do it provided candidates with computer access during recruitment periods: development and improvement of the national grid created in 2005; 3. CAT – Telephone Call Centres: Installing of IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and the training of staff in specific ways of dealing with enquiries achieving a 64% customer satisfaction rate. 4. ‘24’ rapid response workflow, by e-mail, within the space of 24 hours, a plateau corresponding to efficient working practices, with a 71% customer satisfaction rate. 5. ‘DGRHE Centres’ equipped with multi-telephone lines answered by specialist operators, prioritizing pregnant women and the handicapped/disabled, with a 85% customer satisfaction rate. 6. SMS – Texting service to obtain information of job-vacancies that had been filled – an innovation in public services.

Main results, benefits and impacts

Although the investment referred to in point no. 2.3 represents the total cost of this project, the actual cost for 2006 was, in fact, 3.9% lower. In 2006 when the TEIA project was implemented, DGRHE had a total of 135 employees, 12% lower than the number of permanent employees in the previous year. DGRHE’s client public represented the highest source of employment and mobility in the country, nearly 200,000 teaching staff and 36,000 non-teaching staff. Of the teaching staff, nearly 123,217 candidates applied for positions in pre-school education and the first and second stages of primary and secondary education. This represented a growth of around 0.4% compared to 2005. Besides the irrefutable evidence that it is possible to do more with fewer resources, the return on investment was clearly measurable through indicators of degree of internal and external satisfaction, in other words DGRHE employees and its clients: - Around 98% of candidates rated the Electronic Application System as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. - Around 93% of candidates rated the support materials as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ - Around 42% of DGRHE staff stated that they had increased their skills. - Around 45% of DGRHE staff increased their degree of satisfaction with their professional challenges. - Around 43% of DGRHE staff increased their degree of satisfaction with the team environment. The accuracy and precision of the data collected via the communication channels available were determinant factors to the increased degree of satisfaction: - DGRHE centres for the general public - CAT – Telephone Contact Centre - The DGRHE Website - Channel 24 – On-line support – speed of response of between 24 and 48 hours - SMS – ‘DGRHE Direct to your mobile phone’ It was therefore possible to bring forward application periods and reduce by nearly 83% the number of requests for further clarification, or help in solving problems. Innovation: Taking into consideration that the Public Administration, unlike the Private Sector, is regulated and bound by ethical practices and codes of conduct, which involve complex and questionable performance indicators, the focus of using human resources as a way of measuring and maximising results, is very much an innovation from our perspective. However, this project goes a little bit further than just maximising Human Resources. With the implementation of TEIA, we aimed also to: - Reinforce the involvement of everyone, through the introduction of a culture of collective responsibility for the results and failures of DGRHE – putting it another way, the eulogy ‘Us’; - Promote lateral and vertical communication through removing physical and organisational barriers; - Maximise motivation and a real like for one’s job – the introduction of ‘ECO’ (a campaign for ecological awareness, aiming to bring together ecology and the economy) as well as providing relaxation and leisure activities; - Recognise merit through the creation of a ‘Merit Table’ where only ratings of ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ appeared.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

We are always willing to identify and share the ideas over the course of this project and the results obtained. Similarly it is in our interest to find out and learn about other successful working projects that other administrations had carried out, relating to these or other areas.

Lessons learnt

This project, that had its beginning in 2006, cannot be viewed as finished due to the fact that there will always be constant development and improvement. In spite of us considering the balance of things to be very positive, it is always possible to do more and do better. This is the challenge facing us for the future.The main lesson that was learnt from this experiment was that IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO BETTER WITH FEWER RESOURCES. This was achieved through: 1.The Importance of Human Resources and Efficiency in the Service provided. Rate of response within the expected response time of 100%, with recruitment periods being brought forward. Degree of candidate satisfaction based on the quality of the service provided in communication channels: 73.3% satisfied of which 20.8% were very satisfied. 2. Increase in efficiency and Reduction of Overall Costs. 12% reduction in the number of permanent full-time employees faced with an increase of 0.4% of customers/candidates. 5% reduction in overall costs compared with 2005. 3. Adoption of a Customer Service Focus by means of specialized training courses. Developing an awareness of the emotions both in professional and personal lives. Gaining Emotional Intelligence when dealing with customers. Scope: International, National