Green Climate Fund Delivers Correspondence Management Training with UNICC Learning Team Guidance

UNICC has built a customised, self-paced course to train Green Climate Fund (GCF) personnel in the management of official and executive correspondence in Microsoft Dynamics 365.

GCF uses the Microsoft Dynamics Executive Correspondence Management system for official and executive correspondence, including postal letters and electronic mail, tracked upon receipt and replied to in a timely manner. Users of this effective and complex system require training to best realise its benefits.

The goal of the course developed by UNICC is to provide a clear understanding of system roles, responsibilities and processes for all stakeholders, including personnel at the Office of the Executive Director, Division staff, Team Assistants and Focal Points.

We are truly grateful for the UNICC team’s tremendous energy and appreciate the relationship we have established during the project, with easy, reliable and practical communications. We are impressed by the course and are excited to start testing the training!

Kate Myounghee Kim, Business and Solution Analyst, Green Climate Fund

Photo: UNICC

For targeted and efficient instructional design, the UNICC Learning Services team worked closely with a GCF subject matter expert familiar with the Dynamics CRM Correspondence Management system, its policies and procedures, to identify user needs and shape the training accordingly.

The course contains seven modules that amount to an estimated duration of 150 minutes. There is a total of 132 interactive screens for users to learn about the different subjects, including an introduction to the course, a system and process overview and a ‘how-to’ guide for all processes. The content is based on Green Climate Fund’s administrative information knowledge base.

The UNICC team, including training coordinator Katia Distante, graphic designer Lorena Henriquez and instructional designer Adrian Pugh, delivered interactive assessments of various questioning types for users to answer at the end of each module, as well as a final assessment of 25 questions based on the contents of each module. To confirm the knowledge transfer, learners receive feedback after tests and can retake unsuccessful questions. At the end of the training, students can download a Certificate of Completion.

The training has been developed using Articulate Storyline 360, compliant with the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and was executed following Success Approximation Model (SAM) principles.

Photo: UNICC

Microsoft Dynamics 365, as a shared services offering from UNICC, offers the UN family a 360-degree view of contact management across an organization. For more information on Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Learning Services, please reach out to business@unicc.org.

World Food Programme Puts Bots to Work

How Robotic Process Automation Helps Organizational Efficiency

The UN International Computing Centre opened its Robotic Process Automation Centre of Excellence (CoE) in 2019; the World Food Programme (WFP) was among the first UN Agencies to explore this new range of digital capabilities.

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions, organizations can transform routine, manual data transcription processes with automated software programs that run whenever needed, completing repetitive, rules-based tasks that otherwise expend precious human capital.

RPA frees up people to do what people do best – innovate, collaborate, motivate each other and fulfill an organization’s substantive mission and mandate. For WFP, this means achieving Zero Hunger (Sustainable Development Goal 2), whereby countries can draft and implement policies that promote food security and nutrition objectives.

UNICC’s service delivery has been exemplary, constantly adjusting to our changing needs and timeline, as WFP was new to RPAs and automation in general. After go-live, the RPA support too has been proactive and attentive, to make sure bugs and quirks to newly-implemented RPAs were promptly fixed. Our experience in working with UNICC has been really good; we have received timely estimates for development, testing and deployment, clear and competitive costs, as well as simple instructions on how to set up attended bots or scheduled unattended bots.

Masimilliano Merelli, Head of ERP/SAP Services, WFP

Among the opportunities to increase organizational efficiency, WFP and UNICC identified three task workstreams where RPA can be applied:

  • Processing outstanding employee travel advances as needed
  • Downloading and distributing an investment status report once a day
  • Checking the financial sections of annual country reports periodically.

The joint team agreed to use an RPA platform by UiPath, a seasoned RPA software vendor. The UNICC team went to work in close collaboration with WFP’s focal points to assess all processes carefully to define steps, decision points and rules – and to design a software solution.

They then developed, tested and implemented each process, connecting the components of each automation solution to UNICC’s shared RPA CoE infrastructure, from network to workstations to thus enable WFP’s business users with each bot.

At every stage, testing and security were paramount. The first two processes were ready to go live in about four to six weeks.

For outstanding travel advances, UNICC developed an unattended bot (a software robot that runs end to end without human intervention) that would send emails nudging responsible parties, thereby ensuring timely financial reconciliation and saving the travel unit valuable hours processing requests older than 60 days.

Photo: UNICC/Allen

The solution for investment status reports required UNICC to create an unattended ‘treasury user bot’ that could access the investment report platform, locate and download needed reports and then send them to a common treasury mailing box. The bot freed up staff to do more interesting and value-add work, with reports arriving as needed. UNICC onboarded WFP users for these solutions and provided technical support for their administration.

The WFP Country Reports process was more complex. To fulfil their agreements with donors, WFP country offices must publish Annual Country Reports (ACRs) on the performance of their projects. The Contribution Accounting and Donor Financial Reporting unit typically checks the financial section of these ACRs to make sure the data accurately represents WFP’s global operations. Then it reconciles them with data in WFP’s Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) system and ensures they are consistent with other reporting.

This review process is routine, but complex and painstaking, as it involves three separate sub-reports. After a detailed testing period, UNICC has now delivered this process in production and WFP’s teams are already engaged in extending the solution to more complex sub-reports and global scale-up.

Leveraging UiPath’s technology, UNICC took about seven weeks to design, develop and deploy two unattended bots that would run step-by-step through the processes of checking the sub-reports. WFP is able to verify specific financial key figures in these ACRs much more quickly, conduct periodic checks more easily and make timely adjustments throughout the fiscal year.

All these bots are now running on UNICC’s servers, connected to a UiPath solution called Orchestrator, hosted within UNICC’s shared RPA CoE infrastructure. While UN Agency staff and stakeholders get a good night’s rest, the bots stay at it till every task is completed.

WFP’s decision turned out to be incredibly timely. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the global economy hard and budgets tightened everywhere. In all sectors, leaders have been looking for creative ways to make the most of their resources, and that’s exactly what RPA helps us to do. It delivers operational efficiencies when and where organizations need it most.

Photo: Unsplash/UX Indonesia

Beyond these current solutions, WFP has other areas of interest involving RPA solutions, including:

  • Business transformation consulting
  • Automation pipeline generation and value assessment
  • Invoice processing with advanced OCR (optical character recognition)
  • Financial reconciliation
  • Travel claims
  • Authorizations
  • API integrations (ServiceNow, PeopleSoft, SAP, etc.)
  • Project results and reporting
  • Records management
  • Telephone bills reconciliation
  • Digitalisation of vouchers
  • Processing advanced shipment notices
  • Funding requisitions
  • Medical service clearance
  • Vendor screening and compliance adherence
  • Drugs screening validation through public websites
  • Time sheet management.

Nagesh Vepa, Practice Lead of UNICC’s RPA Centre of Excellence, noted that the best hyper automation solutions delivered to WFP come from a quick, well-informed marriage of minds with a top-down and a bottom-up approach to problem-solving – one that considers not only an organization’s overall operational goals and budgets, but also the untapped or latent skills and talent of its employees in delivering the organization’s mandate.

New Strategic Partnership: NetHope

ICC is proud to join hands with the NetHope community to learn from and grow strong in an effort to enhance and refine the way that both organizations serve their communities and constituents. ICC aims to provide insights for NetHope communities of practice about ICC and its Partner Organizations’ best practices and lessons learned. NetHope is strategically positioned within the NGO community much like ICC is with the UN community.

We are excited to join the NetHope forum, where we can provide insights and gain an understanding of the wider NGO community that often works with our UN Partner Organizations.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, ICC

NetHope empowers committed organizations to change the world through the power of technology. This consortium of nearly 60 leading global nonprofits unites with technology companies and funding partners to design, fund, implement, adapt, and scale innovative approaches to solve development, humanitarian, and conservation challenges. NetHope has three new partnerships – with ICC, the Salvation Army International and with War Child Holland. See the NetHope press release here.

Each of these outstanding organizations collectively touch millions of people worldwide. Digital technology has provided an opportunity to scale up their impact, and they recognize NetHope’s collaborative and convening role in progressing nonprofit digital transformation.

Liz Bronder, CEO, NetHope

About NetHope

NetHope is a consortium of nearly 60 leading global nonprofits, whose members deliver over 60 percent of all annual, international, non-governmental aid. The NetHope community strives to transform the world, building a platform of hope for those who receive aid and those who deliver it. See their website here.

ICC’s CTO Shashank Rai Speaks at UNITAR Webinar on Coding for Social Capital

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the First Code Academy hosted on 16 July a virtual roundtable on building a better future for the world’s youth through coding. ICC’s Chief Technology Officer Shashank Rai was invited to speak as an expert panelist on the topic of software coding and digital public goods.

After an introduction by Alexander Taylor, Youth Ambassador to the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, and an opening statement by Moses Satralkar, Associate Director for Program Development at the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, five young panelists presented their projects, where through programming and technology they solve societal challenges.

The foundation of coding for social capital is open collaboration. We can all contribute by participating in open source projects that contribute to our communities and the well-being of humanity.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, ICC

Shashank focused his contribution on digital public goods, technology and freely and openly available content. He noted that open collaboration, including open content, open-source software and open standardization, is the bridge that stands between coding and social capital.

 

Madhavi Shankar, Forbes Asia 30 under 30 and co-founder and CEO of SpaceBasic shared here experience in building solutions for her community through coding. Photo: UNITAR

 

The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, in its report published on 10 June 2019, recommends “that a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN, create a platform for sharing digital public goods, engaging talent and pooling data sets, in a manner that respects privacy, in areas related to attaining the SDGs.” Digital public goods are defined as open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices, do no harm and are of high relevance for attainment of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Shashank encouraged the panelists and everyone in the audience to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ and start or join an open-source project that contributes to the well-being of others, focusing on human-centered design and capitalizing on social connections to create digital public goods.

The biggest challenge for open source content is that it is written from techies for the techies, and not focused on the social sector. At ICC, for example, we have to write software for use in harsh conditions around the globe, areas with low bandwidth or little Internet connectivity.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, ICC

The webinar is part of a series of intergenerational conversations to empower society and to resolve global challenges. ICC’s Director Sameer Chauhan participated in the COVID-19 and Global Youth Leadership roundable, part of the same series, on 14 May.

View the complete recording of the Coding for Social Capital webinar.

 

UNICC Develops Jambo, an Inter-Agency Phone Book App for the UN

Find, connect and say ‘Jambo!’ (‘Hello’ in Swahili) on your smart phone to United Nations colleagues from other organizations. Collaboration and communications between different UN Agencies are crucial to address global challenges and achieve the 2030 Agenda. Most UN Agencies have robust communications within their organizations, but until now a combined global directory has had limited contacts.

To facilitate cooperation, especially given the outbreak of COVID-19 with millions of people working remotely from their homes, the UN Digital Solutions Centre (UN DSC) has developed a phone book app enabling colleagues from across UN agencies to find and contact each other.

The Jambo app, funded by the UN DSC and developed by the International Computing Centre (ICC) in less than a month, currently contains contact information for staff at five member organizations – the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and UNICC. The UN DSC is offering all other UN entities to join for free (additional features such as chat may be introduced as paid services in the future).

The app works like a digital telephone directory. Using their provided organizational credentials to log in, UN personnel can search for colleagues by name and find information such as email address, phone number, UN Agency and other standard Active Directory data. Jambo users can call or send messages and add notes about contacts through the device’s native phone and email functionalities.

Additional features, such as alternate languages and a fully-encrypted chat, will soon be added to the application, with all systems hosted under UN Immunities and Privileges.

The UN DSC encourages all UN entities to say hello and join Jambo for a UN-wide contact information database, strengthening inter-agency collaboration and enabling each to better serve the global challenges related to their mandates.

ICC Delivers Client Webinars on Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning Services

ICC presented its Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning Services, including ICC’s solid support to Clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, to over thirty people from 12 UN Agencies and non-profit organizations interested in subscribing to ICC’s new service.​​​​

ICC is taking the moment as a timely reminder that a set of Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Planning services were introduced at the last Management Committee meeting. Together with ICC’s Chief of Business Relationship Management Section Prado Nieto and other BRMs, Lyle McFadyen, Senior Solutions Architect, and Sami Belquas, Senior Service Management Coordinator, presented ICC’s BC/DR Planning service, which provides continuity planning, testing and training services, a comprehensive management and support system for Clients seeking to improve their organizational resiliency and improve their ability to react.​​

The main goal of this service is to help ICC Clients:

  • Safeguard life, property and the environment
  • Minimize confusion and enable effective decision-making in a time of crisis
  • Minimize the loss of assets, controls, revenue, and impact on customers
  • Continue business operations – providing products and services even during a crisis
  • Facilitate the timely recovery of business-critical functions
  • Satisfy any legal, regulatory or contractual requirements, including ISO-IEC 22301:2019 certification.​

ICC Delivers Client Webinar on UN Digital Academy

ICC presented its new learning service UN Digital Academy on Thursday 18 June to over thirty people from 14 UN Agencies and non-profit organizations interested in subscribing to ICC’s new service.

The UN Digital Academy is a learning platform developed jointly by Microsoft and ICC that serves as a central repository of training resources and content to enable UN staff and stakeholders in their digital transformation journeys.

Chief Technology Officer Shashank Rai and Head of Learning Services Franca Vinci offered a presentation to show the key features of the product, delivered a short demo of the platform and answered questions from attendees. Participating organizations included CITES, ICJ, IOM, ITU, OICT, PAHO, UNDP, UNFCCC, UNICEF, UNITAR, UNOG, UN Women, WIPO and WMO.

For any digital transformation to succeed, there needs to be engagement from the workforce. Users need to be ready to engage with the new tools, adapt and innovate.

Franca Vinci, Head of Learning Services, ICC

Franca highlighted that the UN Digital Academy is designed to have the learner at the centre. It is user-friendly, can be accessed from anywhere, including offline and from locations with low bandwidth, at any time and from any device. The platform is easy to navigate and the content, available in English, French and Spanish, follows new micro-learning criteria: it is composed of a series of very short videos straight to the point.

UN Digital Academy to Support Working From Home

The UN was already undergoing a digital transformation, but the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the pace for implementing new technologies. Now, most of the employees worldwide are working from home and it is estimated that almost half will continue telecommuting after the crisis is over.

In response to the situation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, ICC and Microsoft are offering all organizations three months of free access with a minimum 12-month subscription in 2020.

Microsoft and ICC launched the UN Digital Academy at the UN Tech Huddle event organized by Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact (TSI) team on 2 June. Since then, ITU and ICJ have onboarded the platform, that now has over 1300 users.

ICC Teams Collaborate to Develop e-Learning Platform for IPPC ePhyto Hub

ICC’s Learning Services team assisted in the in-house development of an eLearning course for the International Plant Protection Convention’s ePhyto hub, a collaborative project between IPPC and ICC’s Application Delivery team. IPPC is utilizing the Open Source Moodle platform to host the eLearning courses, with good support from Rosa Alianelli, Service Desk Technician, as Instructional Designer and Lorena Henriquez as the graphic designer.

This eLearning project is part of a much more complex IPPC ePhyto project. ICC and IPPC have been collaborating for several years on the global ePhyto web hub, an innovative project to digitalize and facilitate safe trade of plants and plant products. The system, that has received a trade facilitation innovation award, is now rolling out to countries worldwide.

Agile, Inexpensive and Professional Solutions

A training platform page of the IPPC ePhyto Solution GeNS eLearning Platform. Credit: IPPC

IPPC requested a solution to easily train all personnel involved in the GeNS platform of the ePhyto hub solution, which enables and delivers digital phytosanitary certificates for ease and security of plant protection certificate transactions.

Courses are meant to train National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPO) Assistants, NPPO Administrators, NPPO Officers, NPPO Inspectors, company users and company administrators from different countries.

The eLearning course was developed from beginning to end by the ICC Learning Services team. The ePhyto solution platform is a Moodle-based solution implemented and hosted at ICC for IPPC. The project involved creating, structuring and developing the content of different roles in the application, based on IPPC user manuals. ICC’s Application Delivery team served as subject matter experts and technical liaisons for the project.

Four courses were developed covering the six roles involved in the ePhyto system. All courses have a brief explanation on what the users will see in short, how-to videos. The videos take users through the system to perform certain actions. A final assessment for each course was also created. After passing the assessment the users can download a PDF copy of their certificate of achievement.

ICC’s Learning Services team will maintain all modules to keep content up to date. This project deliverable is a great example of cross-team collaboration within ICC, and the possibility to achieve an end-to-end project with ICC internal resources.

In support of:

   

UNRWA and ICC Sign Ground-breaking ICT Partnership Agreement

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed an agreement with ICC that aims to enhance opportunities for Palestine refugees in Gaza. With this agreement, ICC will be able to benefit from the skills of UNRWA ICT personnel in the delivery of services.

ICC, in its firm commitment to supporting the local constituencies of UN Agencies in the delivery of ICT services worldwide to over 35 UN Agencies and 25 related organizations, is excited to open up this partnership.

This agreement will strengthen the ICC capacity to deliver reliable ICT services driven by best practices. With its world-class technology and state-of-the-art infrastructure, together with the vast cross-domain experience of its very knowledgeable staff, ICC is always ready to offer UN-friendly shared solutions to United Nations organizations and international institutions with similar missions and value.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, ICC

UNRWA, as a Partner Organization, already subscribes to ICC’s ICT services. This ICT services support partnership agreement brings closer collaboration between the two entities, with ICT skills development and delivery being the new bridge for partnership. Now skilled and professional Palestinians ICT personnel at UNRWA can share their skills with the wider UN transformation efforts.

UNRWA employs young and qualified Palestine refugees at its IT Service Centre (ITSC) in Gaza to provide service desk, application development, infrastructure and information management services to all five field offices of the Agency. With this agreement, ICC will be able to benefit from the skills of UNRWA personnel in the following areas:

  • ICT technical capacity augmentation
  • ICT end-to-end solutions delivery
  • ICT operations and maintenance support.

Through this joint project, young and skilled Palestine refugees will be able to contribute to the digital transformation of the UN in the IT domain without the restrictions of geographic borders.

Kaan Cetinturk, UNRWA CIO and Director of Information Management and Technology Department

Strengthening refugee capabilities and increasing livelihood opportunities are two pillars of the UNRWA strategy towards Palestine refugees and constitute direct contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 1 (No Poverty), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

About UNRWA

UNRWA is a United Nations Agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.6 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

 

 

In support of:

UN DSC and ICC Deliver Jambo, an Inter-Agency Phone Book App

Find. Connect. Say Hello to UN Colleagues

Find, connect and say ‘Jambo!’ (‘Hello’ in Swahili) on your smart phone to United Nations colleagues from other organizations with the Jambo App developed by the UN Digital Solutions Centre (UN DSC). The UN DSC is a partnership between the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with the support of ICC.

Collaboration and communications between different UN Agencies are crucial to address global challenges and achieve the 2030 Agenda. Most UN Agencies have robust communications within their organizations, but until now a combined global directory has had limited contacts.

To facilitate cooperation, especially given the outbreak of COVID-19 with millions of people working remotely from their homes, the UN Digital Solutions Centre (UN DSC) has developed a phone book app enabling colleagues from across UN Agencies to find and contact each other.

The Jambo app, funded by the UN DSC  and developed by ICC in less than a month, currently contains contact information for staff at four member organizations – UNHCR, WFP, ICC and UN Women. The UN DSC is offering all other UN entities to join for free.

The telephone directory app uses provided organizational credentials to log in. UN personnel can search for colleagues by name and find information such as email address, phone number, UN Agency and other standard Active Directory data. Jambo users can call or send messages and add notes about contacts through the device’s native phone and email functionalities.

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Additional features, such as alternate languages and a fully-encrypted chat, will soon be added to the application, with all systems hosted under UN Immunities and Privileges.

The UN DSC encourages all UN entities to say hello and join Jambo for a UN-wide contact information database, strengthening inter-agency collaboration and enabling each to better serve the global challenges related to their mandates.

The Jambo app is available to staff of participating UN Agencies for download at Google Play and Apple App Store.

About the Digital Solutions Centre

The UN Digital Solutions Centre is operated in partnership by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and is supported by the International Computing Centre (UNICC). By leveraging new technologies and UN expertise, the Digital Solutions Centre aims to create a suite of digital solutions that can be shared among UN Agencies to transform common business operations and streamline time-consuming transactional tasks. Solutions developed by WFP and UNHCR will be made available to the entire UN system.

Note: Additional features such as chat may be introduced as paid services in the future.