Norway's new pension program is more efficient and better serves citizens

Norway's investment in new IT infrastructure delivers better services to citizens today and readies the country for future demands

Computerworld Honors medal

Like many countries, Norway is facing a growing senior population. As a result, the country is also expecting dramatic increases in the amount of money it will need to spend in order to care for its older citizens. In fact, Norway expects the number of retirees to double by 2050, when that group will account for 40% of its population.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), which pays out nearly one-third of the national budget in benefits, was contending with sweeping welfare reforms that would go into effect in 2011.

But the government was saddled with old technology and paper-based processes for its pension system, which left the government unable to keep pace with demand and Norwegians unable to adequately plan for retirement.

Given these dynamics, Norway needed to find a way to increase its efficiency, curb its soaring pension costs and better serve its surging older population.

It opted for an end-to-end transformation of its systems, using world-class technology to implement a multichannel, customer-centric strategy. The government pension system is now integrated with those of private pension providers and has centralized case-handling functions, fully automated pension administration processes and national call centers.

At the heart of this new system is a user-friendly, one-stop self-service portal called "Din pensjon," (Your Pension). Norwegians can use it to apply for benefits online with just two clicks.

Norway is currently the only country providing citizens with an integrated view of both their public and private pension benefits. And its system is the only one worldwide with an end-to-end, automated process that can gather user information, calculate benefits, complete applications, generate a decision letter and enable payment transactions in seconds.

Using the portal may be simple for users, but its creation was quite complex. The NAV invested $500 million over four years to launch this groundbreaking pension system. It required the development of a service-oriented architecture and technologies that automated the paper-based pension application process. The project required the agency to combine 290 services and more than 30 application components, and to essentially reinvent all of its pension processes.

Norway also had to convince its older citizens to switch to this self-service model, a goal it accomplished through an extensive communication campaign that included traditional and social media and a smartphone application that has been downloaded by 20,000 people.

In the end, the NAV's efforts transformed outdated systems and created a coordinated, customer-focused enterprise.

Read more about the 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureates.

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