by Divina Paredes

Ministry for Primary Industries challenges status quo, moves to Windows 8.1

Jun 29, 20144 mins
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The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed the upgrade of all of its 2740 PC and laptops to Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8.1.

“We’ve been planning the move from XP for more than 18 months. After discussions with Microsoft, we delayed the rollout to ensure we’d roll out the latest version, and reduce the risk of running multiple upgrades,” says Tracy Voice, acting deputy director general, corporate services.

“We decided not to purchase the extended support for XP offered by Microsoft from 8th April,” she says, referring to the cut-off date for Microsoft’s support for the operating system, “as we were on track to complete the upgrade by 20 June and had completed a full risk assessment, which rated the security risk as low.”

We could have easily upgraded to Windows 7 as planned, but once you challenge the status quo, it is amazing the results you can get and yes, we upgraded to Windows 8.1. Tracy Voice, Ministry for Primary Industries

As to a key advice for organisations undertaking the same project, Voice states: “Remember to always challenge the status quo.

“We could have easily upgraded to Windows 7 as planned,” she tells CIO New Zealand. “But once you challenge the status quo, it is amazing the results you can get and yes, we upgraded to Windows 8.1.”

Forging a good working relationship with external organisations involved in the move was critical, she adds. “Cooperation between all parties – MPI, Fujitsu and Microsoft – the reality is, you need all of them working together.”

MPI says it will also roll out Office 2013 later this year, followed by a new electronic content management as a service system (ECMaaS) in 2015. Both are compatible with Windows 8.1.

Voice says a positive outcome of the migration was the ministry identified and significantly reduced the number of applications used.

She says the deployment was an important step for MPI to enable a future ready platform for new tools that will help staff work and share information more efficiently.

Pointers for migration: Work with ‘champion’ users

MPI was formed from the merger in 2012 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Fisheries and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority. It ranks number 58 in the CIO100, the annual report on the top ICT using organisations in New Zealand.

A critical part of the migration to the new operating system was the creation of a team of Windows 8.1 ‘champions’ who were upgraded to the system earlier than everyone else.

Related: Insider’s guide to change management

“Their role was to promote the rollout within their teams and be on hand for queries when their colleagues were upgraded,” says Debbie Caterer of the ministry’s communications team. “We met with them initially and showed them how it worked, and followed this up with weekly emails to update them on the rollout.

“The ‘champions’ were great at reminding staff to check they’d done all the preparation tasks (running a script and moving files) before the upgrade happened. Then they usually checked in to see if people needed a hand using the new system.

Meanwhile, the learning and development team created two to three minute tutorials on the intranet.

These tutorials gave an introduction to Windows 8.1, using the desktop, and functionality such as pining/unpinning tiles and tailoring their taskbar. This was supported by a section on frequently asked questions and answers, which was updated regularly.

Staff received regular updates which encouraged them to use the training tools and ask questions.

“We also promoted some earlier adopters to share their story of how simple the upgrade was, and how it was enabling them to work faster and smarter,” says Caterer.

Related: healthAlliance retires Windows XP and moves to Windows 7

Jeff Healey, public sector director, Microsoft New Zealand, says with the move to Windows 8.1, the ministry now has a modern platform to help in its business goals to grow and protect the country’s primary industries.

Windows 8.1 adds premium features that address the mobility, security, management, and virtualisation needs of today’s enterprise. Jeff Healey, Microsoft

“Windows 8.1 adds premium features that address the mobility, security, management, and virtualisation needs of today’s enterprise,” says Healey.

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