Improving service at the Judicial Institutions Department through automation with UiPath

RPA - automating multiple processes


The Judicial Institutions Department of the Ministry of Justice & Security, uses automation to improve the care of detainees, improve services to the citizens of the Netherlands and use taxpayers’ money more effectively.

Clientepartment of Correctional Institutions (DJI)
IndustryPublic Administration
ServiceRPA - automating multiple processes

Customer Overview

The Judicial Institutions Department (DJI), operates under the umbrella of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security. DJI is responsible for the day-to-day care of offenders and works with them in many ways to prepare them for return to society. With 50 locations throughout the country and approximately 13,000 employees, DJI is one of the largest employers in the Netherlands.

The occasion

The Shared Service Center (SSC) of DJI is responsible for developing greater efficiency, reducing costs and thus ultimately improving the quality of public services. In this context, they have deployed RPA as a tool with the UiPath automation platform as their tooling. With this, it is possible to achieve up to 100 processes and savings of 50,000 man-hours per year.

The approach

In order to automate the defined processes, a phased approach is used to develop the system. The development team consists of a mix of employees from DJI and RPA developers from auticon (Specialisterren). Together they ensure an efficient automation process.

The main results achieved so far

  • 100 robots launched in 4 years (scalable processes rigged)
  • 35 FTE can do more useful work
  • Better service leading to greater ‘customer’ satisfaction
  • Employees and processes are ready for the digital future

Read the extensive case study in Dutch below or find the original version in English on the UiPath website..

The Dutch government’s Judicial Institutions Department, DJI, is not only responsible for detaining convicts to ensure that justice is done in accordance with court decisions, but must also manage the day-to-day care of detainees and support their rehabilitation and re-entry into society.

This organization, headquartered in The Hague, is divided into three main departments: prison administration, forensic care and individual affairs. It also offers a number of ‘national services’, which support DJI in its work (ranging from prisoner and detainee transport, from spiritual care to forensic psychiatry and psychology).

An important part of these National Services provided by DJI and crucial to the service’s infrastructure, are two Shared Service Centers (SSCs) – called the SSC ICT for ICT applications and management, and the SSC DJI for Finance, Procurement and Human Resources and Facilities Services.

Faced with the dual challenges of having to work with legacy systems and the lack of qualified staff to handle the increasing workload, the DJI SSC decided in 2018 to embark on an automation journey using UiPath RPA technology, primarily to speed up response times, reduce errors and increase process efficiency.

Frank de Jonge, former general manager of SSC DJI:We had been told that RPA was the golden egg for optimizing processes at low cost and increasing the quality of service, so we decided to run an initial Proof-of-Concept to see if the technology lived up to its reputation. Our question was: does automation work in the organization and is it worth developing further? The initial results were so positive that we decided to take the plunge and move forward with a larger rollout in the organization and in different processes”, said de Jonge.

Wouter Derksen, Innovation & Business Development Manager at DJI SSC, adds: “We started with one or two proofs of concept because it was important to us that we designed for larger scale deployment from the beginning. We took advantage of UiPath’s low code/no code feature as much as possible to train developers themselves, so the end result was not just a successful pilot RPA project, but a fully developed team with capabilities that we could use and share internally . We took a “start small, organize big” approach, keeping skills in mind from the beginning. Which gave us peace of mind, comfort and a better view of the impact and consequences of deploying RPA.”.

In addition, we spent a lot of time engaging people and organizations, which led to a broad understanding of the goal of implementing RPA: improving the quality of service. In the process, our employees developed digital capabilities to also prepare for the future”, says Derksen. This improvement in service quality was of paramount importance to the team and one of the main triggers for starting the automation project. There were numerous administrative processes that should have been easily accessible to Dutch (or what DJI calls “their customers”), but instead were a source of frustration due to issues such as limited call times or because it was difficult to get updates on the status of a specific request or request for documents.


“We began our automation journey with the goal of increasing the organization’s capacity and improving service levels through standardized, high quality processes that work 24/7. By reinvesting the time we saved through the use of RPA to achieve quality and process improvements, the culture of continuous change became normal and to this day provides a foundation for the reliability of our services so that we can not only serve more customers, but also serve them better.”

Frank de Jonge

Nominated for the Government Innovation Award

Fast forward to 2022; DJI’s SSC has just celebrated the development of its 100th RPA robot and calculates that by using RPA they can save an average of 35 FTEs or 50,000 hours per year. The project was even nominated last year as a finalist for the Dutch award “Best Government Innovation of the Year 2021”, a nomination that Wouter Derksen and his team are immensely proud of.

The best examples of processes they have successfully automated include processing phone credits for prisoners when the global pandemic of the coronavirus hit the country. Inmates were no longer allowed to have visitors due to COVID restrictions, so the decision was made to give them all extra credits on their phone accounts to use FaceTime to call their family and relatives. By automating the process of adding call credits for 15,000 inmates to the system, the SSC was able to make those credits available in three days, whereas manually it would have taken three weeks. To not have inmates wait nearly a month for credits was not only something positive for the well-being of the inmates, but also provided more safety and security within the prison population.

Another example of how they used RPA to improve services to ordinary citizens in general was the issuance of the certificate of good conduct. The SSC was able to robotize the process for DJI in such a way that citizens who apply can now get a certificate within an hour instead of having to wait three days, as before when the process was managed manually.

Creating social impact

The development of the robots themselves is also one way DJI’s SSC can ensure that social inclusion practices are also met. “We have a team of eight developers, five of whom are employees of the agency, while the others come to us from external providers such as auticon (Specialisterren), a UiPath implementation partner and Social Enterprise in the Netherlands, which actively employs people with certain forms of autism, giving them the opportunity to be part of the workforce and to improve their quality of life,” says Wouter Derksen.

“Our RPA developers have a form of autism, and therefore have skills that are above average and appropriate for RPA development. It allows us to work with DJI, to help them in their automation journey. So the result of this collaboration is also social impact. We are proud to be both organizations with social impact and to strengthen each other’s impact”.

Ernst Kolvenbag,RPA Program Director at auticon (Specialisterren)

Change Management

Designing to scale is good, but to make it work in practice, one needs to understand what people think of automation and how likely they are to embrace the technology as something positive for themselves. The DJI SSC has worked hard in collaboration with external partners, including UiPath and the University of Utrecht to study attitudes toward digital transformation. Not only among the general public, but also among in-house staff.

Part of this research included a test where employees from one of DJI’s largest departments, Finance, were asked how they felt about their jobs, job security and details about the type of task they did before and after the introduction of RPA.

“The results of the survey were actually quite surprising to me,” says Wouter Derksen. “I thought they would express concern about losing their jobs or worry about not working as much anymore. But in fact, we saw that staff were very happy with working with automated processes because it meant they had more time to help customers and do the more creative and problem-solving tasks, which made their work with RPA more challenging and therefore more satisfying than before.”

The results of the study were crucial for the DJI SSC team to communicate the benefits of RPA technology across the organization, and a great support in the stakeholder management process, including securing the support of the service’s ICT SSC. “Implementing new technology applications, and thus changing current work processes, requires the necessary organization to bring employees, managers, and the organizational structure along to the new practice, and good change management is crucial in this process,” explains Frank de Jonge. . By starting small and building at scale, DJI was able to create a change plan from the beginning that outlined how the changes could be supported and run as smoothly as possible.

A phased approach, allowing time to train and guide employees through the change, helped. During the early PoC phases, employees were continuously informed and involved so that the upcoming change was better understood and from the moment employees knew what robotization meant for them, it could be expanded incrementally.

Digital-first processes

Looking ahead to the future, Wouter Derksen predicts that there will be a complete decentralization of process automation where digital-first processes are developed and managers become “orchestra leaders. That is, they will see a fully digitized process in front of them on a monitor and be able to see how much work there is in each step, while also visualizing what work is actually being done during the individual steps.

Ernst Kolvenbag of auticon (Specialisterren) explains that an automation journey often consists of three phases. After the pilot/discovery phase comes the second in which an organization understands RPA and begins to organize to scale.”DJI SSC is clearly in the second phase,” he says,”but is quickly moving to the third. DJI is looking at what else they can do to move automation forward. We’re a perfect fit for organizations that are in phase 2 to support them in scaling up, and in phase 3 to take automation to the next level‘”

Digital-first processen

Vooruitkijkend naar de toekomst voorspelt Wouter Derksen dat er een volledige decentralisatie van de automatisering van processen zal plaatsvinden waarbij digital-first processen worden ontwikkeld en managers ‘orkestleiders’ worden. Dat wil zeggen dat ze op een monitor een volledig gedigitaliseerd proces voor zich zien en kunnen zien hoeveel werk er in elke stap is, terwijl ze ook visualiseren welk werk daadwerkelijk wordt gedaan tijdens de afzonderlijke stappen.

Ernst Kolvenbag van auticon (Specialisterren) legt uit dat een automation journey vaak uit drie fasen bestaat. Na de pilot/ontdekkingsfase komt de tweede waarin een organisatie RPA begrijpt en gaat organiseren om te kunnen opschalen. “DJI SSC zit duidelijk in de tweede fase”, zegt hij, “maar gaat snel naar de derde. DJI bekijkt wat ze nog meer kunnen doen om automatisering verder door te voeren. Wij passen perfect bij organisaties die in fase 2 zitten om ze te ondersteunen bij opschaling, en bij fase 3 om automatisering naar een volgend niveau te brengen’”.

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