Magazine article Management Today

MCA Management Awards 2009: International Winner

Magazine article Management Today

MCA Management Awards 2009: International Winner

Article excerpt


From Taipei to Islamabad and Jamaica to Mumbai, the world comes to this little island of Britain. And many come seeking to stay for more than just a holiday. Around 2.75 million visa applications are received each year - 50% more than just a decade ago. The UK Border Agency is tasked with processing these applications - a critical role in allowing skilled workers to come into the country while protecting the nation's borders against terrorism, organised crime and influxes of illegal immigrants.

In 2005, the Government announced that all visa applicants would be expected to provide biometric details by the end of 2007. The UK Border Agency knew it needed to incorporate this requirement into existing improvements to enable applications to be made over the web, by post, in person or via an agent in the country of origin. It also knew it needed a partner that could provide a robust technology system and roll out changes globally.

CSC and the UK Border Agency put together a governance model for the project that combined the operational expertise of the Agency with the programme and technical expertise of CSC. Applying lessons learned from previous work implementing visa systems in Europe and the US, CSC established 30 new visa application centres (VACs) in 14 countries across Europe, the Americas, North Africa and the Middle East under the WorldBridge banner. Information services are provided to another 87 countries through websites, e-mail and multilingual call centres.

The five-year business process outsourcing deal signed with CSC stated that biometrics-based visa applications had to be introduced to the 30 VACs by 2008 - within just 10 months.

Jamaica was the first VAC to go live - in the middle of the busiest time of year for visa applications there. But the deadline was met, and the lessons learned in Jamaica provided CSC with a repeatable model - 'VAC-in-a-box' - that it could use elsewhere, though not always without modification. 'Not only were we on a very steep learning curve, we also found that aspects of the model that worked well in Europe didn't necessarily work well in the Middle East,' admits CSC's John Aspinall, who was responsible for delivering the programme. 'But by the time we got to our final implementations in Canada, Turkey and Lebanon, the Vac-in-a-box solution was working well. …

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