Australian tax office seeks relief in CRM

The Australian Taxation Office is approaching the end of the second phase of its A$450 million (US$343 million) change program by extending its CRM system to more than 70,00 staff and consolidating 180 case management systems.

ATO’s second commissioner for IT, Greg Farr said release one, which ended last year, was about underpinning the right technologies and rolling out Siebel CRM to contact-center staff.

Now with release two due for completion in December, a single view of all people who deal with the ATO has become available since July 17. Farr said the tax office has also revamped its document management systems to capture and image all incoming letters and faxes so they can pass through the workflow system and be accessible by Siebel.

“We had initial problems with workflow, but now we’re well and truly on track,” Farr said. “We’ve always had the intention of having a single, customer-facing suite of systems. Tax has really suffered, from since I can remember, a lack of integration.”The ATO has seven accounting systems and is burdened by different processing systems for different tax types so the ability to get the single view of consumer is the top priority.

“Integration of CRM with the case management system was always very attractive to us,” Farr said, adding the system is coping well with the number of transactions being put through it. Release two will be deployed to an additional 700 staff this week and some 12,000 to 15,000 staff will be using it by December.

“This has now fixed the workflow issue,” Farr said. “All interactions come into ‘inbound’ and are accessed through Siebel. As a call comes through, the operator would have a screen pop which would have your registration details and any correspondence and you can click on it. So the person dealing with you will have a much greater understanding of your dealings with Tax.”

Anything that comes into the tax office is put through the “in-bound” system that makes it electronic, including letters, faxes, e-mails, telephone recordings, and personal interactions.

Farr did not have any hard estimates on the amount of time saved as a result of the change programs, but said that in the past staff had to access 11 or 12 different screens to find the appropriate information. Now “in most cases”, they get it all on one screen.

Farr is confident in the longevity of Siebel now it has been acquired by Oracle, and even travelled to the US to look up-close at the company’s road map. “Oracle’s head of government for CRM is travelling out here at the end of this month to sit down with us and talk Siebel 8,” he said.

Release two paves the way for the final phase, release three, which will see the mainframe transaction processing software upgraded to allow integration of data across tax types.

“All those processing and accounting applications we have will be replaced with integrated core processing systems, so it doesn’t matter what tax type it is, it will be a single account,” he said.

The accounts on the mainframe will also be opened so people or tax agents can log in and look at their account the same way an ATO staff member would.

Release three will go into production in December next year and reach final completion in July 2008.