by Sarah Putt

An ecosystem approach to IT is paying off for Māori language agency

May 19, 2021
Enterprise ApplicationsIT StrategySaaS

Despite its small size, the New Zealand agency favours fitting together multiple tools to keep its bespoke capabilities and have flexibility in each module.

man in suit putting together giant puzzle pieces
Credit: Thinkstock

Adopting an ecosystem approach to IT services can enable organisations to pick and choose the right technology for their organisation. While large organisations have buying power in their favour when it comes to new tech deployments, small organisations rarely do. For any size organisation, there is huge appeal in the ability to be nimble by fitting together different applications to create a complete solution for your needs without high integration effort or cost.

Bringing together multiple systems that are “all talking to each other” is the goal for Te Māngai Pāho, a Māori language agency charged with promoting te reo Māori and Māori culture. Every year it provides about $67 million worth of funding for Māori language and cultural programmes, programme makers, broadcasters, music producers, and archiving of programmes and content.

Te Māngai Pāho chief executive Larry Parr says they are working to connect their new HR management solution Employment Hero with accounting software Xero and with their bespoke online funding system Tahua, which they developed with New Zealand business Hashbang.

“We have an online funding system [Tahua] that we have developed with a provider. We are paperless from receiving proposals through to assessing decision making, contracting, milestone management, and final payment in the recipient’s account. We developed it over a period of time, adding modules, with a provider, so it’s a significant investment. Now the Film Commission uses it, NZ on Air uses it,” Parr says.

That’s one reason Te Māngai Pāho decided against finding one suite to handle all its needs, instead being willing to integrate multiple tools from multiple providers, while still minimising the number of platforms it supports.

For those tools, Te Māngai Pāho is looking to cloud-based applications. “I believe [the SaaS model] is economical,” Parr says.

Enabling a new approach to employment contracts

Parr says a move to revamp the organisation’s employment contracts so they are more grounded in tikanga Māori (customary practices and values) provided the ideal opportunity for the HR function to join the finance and project management functions in becoming digital.

He had worked with a lawyer to incorporate Te Māngai Pāho’s values into the contracts, which—in addition to tikanga being central to everything the organisation does—these includes hiringa (excellence and innovation), mahi tahi (working collaboratively), and tauutuutu (reciprocal obligations, the need for openness and honesty in all engagements).

Once that had been achieved, the next task was to distribute the confidential documents to all staff and ask them to review and re-sign their contracts. He discovered the cloud application Employment Hero, which had recently become available in New Zealand. It enabled Parr to upload the finished contracts in readable PDF form and distribute the new contracts to all staff.

“In lots of organisations, and we weren’t an exception to this, HR policies are something you get drafted and file, and they are there because you’ve ticked the box. But they should be more accessible and more referred and adhered to. Moving to Employment Hero gave me an opportunity to remind everybody what our HR policies were, and get their acknowledgement,” Parr says.

Having provided revised contracts to existing staff, Parr was able to use Employment Hero’s recruitment module to fill two staff vacancies. He now plans to move to its payroll module, once the contract with its existing payroll supplier ends. “When we start using the payroll function as well, I’ll be very pleased because it just reduces our reliance on spreadsheets and other old-fashioned things outside of the system,” he says.

Connecting the technology platforms to form an ecosystem

Parr says the goal is to reduce complexity, and if that isn’t entirely possible, then to ensure different applications can at least talk to each other. When Te Māngai Pāho adopts Employment Hero’s payroll module, they will integrate the HR system with their accounting software, Xero. “One of the problems that you are continually trying to solve is reduce the number of platforms you are using,” he says.

Automating basic administration functions, whether in finance or HR, is important for the organisation to ensure accuracy and efficiency. “We’re looking for tools which make life easier and to develop an ecosystem that is connected.”

The ‘connected ecosystem’ approach means Te Māngai Pāho can get the best solutions for the job, while at the same time ensuring that the organisation’s overall results are captured. This not only prevents double-entry; it makes it easier to track the overall progress of the business plan, Parr says.