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California Department of Social Services goes digital to deliver faster, more efficient services to citizens


Smarter services impact the everyday lives of citizens and employees at the California Department of Social Services. Digital transformation, enabled through the department’s use of Surface, Azure, and Office 365, is redefining the entire citizen experience, by empowering employees, engaging with citizens, and optimizing operations. The department’s move from paper to digital gives mobile employees instant access to case files and shortens processing time for service requests, along with a host of other benefits that create a streamlined experience for California citizens.

The California Department of Social Services exists to serve, aid, and protect the most vulnerable citizens of the Golden State. Offering adult programs, welfare, community care, and children and family services that impact nearly 3 million residents, the 4,200 employees of CDSS work every day to strengthen and preserve families while promoting personal independence and responsibility. But, with roughly 714 citizens for each CDSS employee, the necessity for managing hundreds of citizens in just as many cities often means department workers are in high demand but operate under limited time, funds, and tools.

Driving digital efficiency

With literal lives at stake, it is key for CDSS to operate as efficiently as possible by limiting redundancy, improving efficiency, and saving money, all while aligning their citizen service offerings with other state departments. That means moving away from paper processes, files, and memos, improving the communication process, increasing employee mobility, and starting their own digital transformation.
This search for efficiency brought CDSS’s Chief of Operations Susan Slaven to Evolve 365, an end user training platform for Microsoft Office 365 that guides customers in their Office 365 transitions and provides support throughout their digital transformation.
“There is a growing demand for people to work outside the office. In order to do that they need the hardware, but also the software,” Slaven explains.

Boosting case worker productivity through mobile

That’s why CDSS, Microsoft, and Planet Technologies partnered together to equip agency employees with the tools and training for a fully-mobile digital workforce. With Surface, Office 365, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and other tools, CDSS is empowering its employees to work remotely, collaborate seamlessly, and communicate easily without getting tied up in red tape.
The decision to move away from paper documents and embrace Office 365 has made a significant impact on Susan and her team. Instant access to case documents, regardless of the user’s location, means faster processing, improved organization, and overall greater service for California residents. It also creates significant savings in paper goods, storage, and productivity, allowing state employees to focus on serving their citizens rather than navigating a paper trail.
CDSS’s steps toward digital transformation have allowed California state employees to collaborate in real time and demonstrate enhanced productivity from the office, at home, or on the road through Surface and Skype for Business. According to Slaven, “The ability to be at the capitol and modify documents in real time and send them back is huge, because we didn’t have that capability in the past.”
“We can build collaboration sites and allow the advocates and counties we work with to provide more material online to process requests a lot faster,” says Slaven. With Azure-powered citizen portals, case workers can now monitor user activity and make necessary adjustments on the fly. This has been particularly impactful when reviewing citizen engagement at senior care facilities. Family members can easily access and address state-operated facilities, review their staff and amenities, and provide direct feedback related to the care of their loved ones. These new accessibility options use Azure-driven web interactions, ratings, and performance management to generate greater organizational transparency.

Giving citizens the resources they need

Slaven continues, “In the past, if a citizen had an elderly parent that was sick and needed to go into a facility they would have no resource to go to. We put the full directory of care homes out on the internet and allow folks to write their reviews so that they can make a solid decision on where to put their parent.”
The digital transformation at CDSS isn’t just helping a government agency file reports or IT folks manage a server load—it’s impacting the everyday lives of millions of people through smarter services.
“Agencies used to work in silos. More and more they are working in collaboration with each other,” Slaven explains. “Office 365 is showing us where we can collaborate using the same systems and the same tools to get the work done in a collaborative fashion. Agencies are staring to communicate and work together on helping citizens. These tools are going to help us collaborate in a bigger way.”

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