PEOPLE | Sep 28, 2017

GiuDiCo: when digital technology improves proceeding

Interview with Antonella Serini of the Corte dei conti and Andrea Chirico of Sogei on the Digital Accounting Justice (GiuDiCo) Project

“Digitizing is not dematerializing, but something far more profound that impacts organizations by changing their processes and consequently the ways of consolidating people.

 So starts Antonella Serini, manager of the Corte dei conti, Applied Projects Service and closely following the GiuDiCo Digital Accounting Justice Project. A project aimed at fully digitizing the operations of court sittings and prosecutors.

Dematerialization – she continues – has long been implemented in our Institute by means of the scanning and making available of records that have analogical origins. Now, however, the goal is to bring to life an entire digital process, enabling varied forms of users within the Court of Auditors, such as administrative, magistrates, prosecutors, to prepare documentation and communications referring to Court judgements, from the preliminary investigation stage to monitoring the execution of decisions.

The Court of Auditors, founded in 1862, has a substantial archive of documentary records, but a since the year 2000 – says Andrea Chirico of Sogei digitization was introduced, which today amounts to over 80% of documentation being dematerialized in respect of proceedings initiated over the past 2 years.

The digitization of the entire process is, however, a monumental step, which is heading in the direction of the telematic accounting procedure, whose biggest obstacle, above all, is the cultural change that comes along with it.

We are almost half-way through the project road-map – says Antonella Serini – and we are utilizing Scrum, an Agile methodology that allows constant discussion with the various project stakeholders, subdivided into formalized groups that experiment and provide valuable feedback that aids understanding of the particular feeling relevant to the innovations introduced. In addition, this gradual and shared construction allows us to better control the variability of the requirements, also linked in this case, to the possible variations that over time may be found to be related to the interpretations and modifications of the new Code of Accounting Justice (Leg. Dec. 26 August 2016, no. 174), which regulates the accounting process).

Which is the most important data that will be available on project launch that is not today available for immediate consultation?

The work undertaken over the last few years – replies Andrea Chirico already guarantees the availability of a cognitive system supporting both the administrative and judiciary component, but now the aim is to create a Data Mining system that enables the processing, in real time, or on demand, of reports that aggregate information on the demographic and performance dimension.

We set ourselves two goals: to create a centralized demographic record of subjects such as, for example, administrations, physical and legal individuals that interact with jurisdictional functions, and to identify a set of KPIs that will help to analyze and streamline judicial performance. Specifically, in terms of reporting judicial records, Article 138 of the Code of Accounting Justice provides for the keeping of a registry of accountants, and in this context a typical query addressed to the records may concern the intersection of data between accountants and judicial accounts submitted per year by the Administration and/ or territorial Body; while, with respect to the performance analysis dimension, they could, for example, provide guidance in support of the general role for aiding the definition of criteria in assigning judicial appeals.

What are the benefits brought by GiuDiCo?

Taking into account the territorial distribution of court sittings and prosecutors, one of the main advantages to be emphasized regarding GiuDiCo is that it allows magistrates, in the first place, and other people who contribute to building the process documentation, to have access to what is needed at any time and in any place.

Being able to have access, even on the move – explains Antonella Serini – especially for judges and lawyers, really is a major leverage. Being able to consult their own files without having to physically return to the office would generate a major improvement in procedural efficiency. Furthermore, there will be savings in terms of the space – square meters – needed for storing documents, while with GiuDiCo, digital documents will be kept “as norm”. Thus communication, and sharing and exchange of documents with other Administrations will be improved.

In fact, – affirms Andrea Chirico – improving efficiency means enhancing resources by eliminating repetitive, executive activities, leaving more time for intellectual work; this means offering the Court of Auditors the tools that will enable it to develop organizational learning; this in turn means helping, in an equal fashion, all those who are legitimately interested in gaining information and knowledge from a shared informative asset.

What are the obstacles?

One of the leverages that led the Court of Auditors to launch the GiuDiCo project is that of re-engineering the jurisdictional automation system, with the aim of ensuring greater efficiency in managing cases, thus completing the transformation of the current system from simple management for data storage to a digitization of the accounting procedure.

In particular, the application architecture will be released on Cloud Infrastructure, which if on the one hand provides a set of services that are delivered through network hosting, facilitating access to easily configurable resources according to their needs directly from the Internet, on the other hand, calls for further in-depth analysis of the security measures needed to protect the data therein.

One of the biggest difficulties encountered – says Antonella Serini – has been that of managing various internal and external stakeholders and above all understanding opposing needs and regulating them.

Analysis of the procedural flow of an extremely articulate accounting process is undoubtedly highly complex. We have worked – says Andrea Chirico – in a framework composed of a complex network of functional, architectural and organizational constraints, also considering the high number and geographical distribution of the future system; however, at the moment, we are also making good progress on the software development front. We are now called upon to transform this voluminous set of requirements, correlations and constraints into software that also meets the approval of users who, in the end, must physically work with the system.

What are we still expecting? A bit of resistance to change and numerous support requests in the first launch phase and that, given the size of the system and the changes introduced into workflows, will be likely; but we count on the invaluable collaboration of the referents that we have identified on the ground, so that via adequate on-the-job training, they will facilitate the start-up of GiuDiCo. In addition, we must not underestimate the fact that we also have the professionalism and skills of the development, management, support and training teams; a wealth of experience accumulated over time, which allows us, despite the technical and organizational difficulties, to look toward the future with optimism.

Sonia Montegiove