How Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) and Capgemini teams collaborated in an award-winning programme that puts Wales ahead of the rest of Europe in the efficient handling of EU structural funds
European funding is important to the Welsh economy and Welsh society, with some £3.9 billion available to Wales from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The Welsh Government’s Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) was determined to ensure that applications for funds – from businesses, communities, public and third-sector organisations – could be handled quickly, efficiently and with minimum bureaucracy.
Working with the Welsh Government’s longterm IT outsourcing partner, Capgemini UK, the joint WEFO and Capgemini team quickly decided that in a connected world, the logical solution was to offer a fully online facility to applicants, eliminating the need for unnecessary paperwork and lengthy phone calls. The WEFO Online project harnessed advanced web technology to produce a user-friendly solution – and one able to handle the complexity of the European Union (EU) rules involved, to incorporate the financial and security safeguards essential for handling large sums of public money, and to flexibly accommodate frequent changes in EU legislation.
The project was completed to a tight deadline making Wales the first of the 40 regions in the EU to have a fully functional online funds processing system. The system successfully processed applications for 176 projects with a total value of £1.3 billion in its first two years, cut processing times in half, and won the ‘IT Outsourcing Project of the Year’ award from the European Outsourcing Association, and, in a separate awards scheme, the top IT award from the UK’s National Outsourcing Association.