Achieved 98% Accuracy in First Pass for Payment Process



The Ministry of Education ECE Operational Funding team consist of around 12 people who are responsible for the funding allocation of all early childhood centers in New Zealand. These 4,000 to 4,600 early childhood education service providers are paid out between $650M to $700M per funding period.


There were several related issues identified initially:

The payment process had become very complex, with many manually intensive steps. This unnecessarily increased the risk of payment errors. There had been a high turnover of experienced staff, which combined with a lack of adequate handover resulted in a loss of institutional knowledge. On top of that, the documentation outlining the process had become outdated. The team spent much time in meetings creating an increasing number of reactive ad hoc fixes which added to the manually intensive process and increased the chance of further human error.


To maximise value for MoE without sacrificing a significant amount of time for an incredibly busy team, we opted for a one day workshop to train the Funding Team in Structured Problem Solving, followed by a follow up day several weeks later to provide additional support.

We ran a Structured Problem Solving “boot camp” covering DMAIC process over a single day, walking through each phase and applying the tools and techniques to some of the issues they had. This gave the team real-world context for their learning and gave benefit to the organisation as we worked on actual issues while training.


All the steps the team has taken have helped increase the accuracy of the payments to 98%, a figure which is still improving with monitoring each period. This means the team spends less time in meetings trying to fix errors and creates more opportunities to analyse and use our data better, make better, risk-informed decisions, and prepare for new initiatives.

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The team has really upped its game and we’re running at a 98% payment accuracy rate now, with errors and near-misses being recorded and used to improve the processes.

Rob Hanratty, Manager ECE Funding & Assurance