by Bonnie Gardiner

NSW Department of Industry undergoes digital transformation

Sep 15, 2015
E-commerce ServicesGovernmentGovernment IT

The NSW Department of Industry has undergone digital transformation to streamline operations, improve customer service and cost savings.

The Department, formerly known as NSW Trade and Investment, is responsible for leading the NSW Government’s support of business growth and job creation across a range of sectors.

The digital transformation was part of an overall plan to run the government department more like a business with central governance over content and services. The initiative involved a contract with open software services firm, Squiz, and the consolidation of 148 disparate department websites, more than 30 internal intranets, and “countless” social media channels.

Following the launch of a new website in 2014, and the new department-wide intranet in July, the next stage of the Department’s digital journey will involve mapping customer journeys and applying continuous improvement, while actively seeking feedback from users.

A key challenge of the ongoing transformation, according to Janelle Neath, DoI’s strategic communications manager, was the complexity of government and the propensity for confusion around who owns particular services.

“Our department really provides two different service types, but it appears to be hundreds when you actually get down to the detail. When we were able to distil that, it demonstrated these services were part of an overall department as opposed to just a single business unit,” said Neath.

Adding to the complexity, the March NSW state election resulted in additional restructure and renaming of the Department, with various functions moved across ministerial portfolios.

In order to maintain customer centricity, the DoI sought permission from the Department of Premier and Cabinet to maintain management of information and services around international trade, while new secretary Simon Smith has been pushing for further investment and engagement with data analytics and industry feedback to identify and find solutions to common problems.

“We’re excited to see how our digital platforms can help here, moving forward,” added Neath. “People can now find information on exactly what we do and how we can support them, and I think that’s a good starting point.”

The next stage for the website will involve mapping the customer journey to identify any remaining or new issues and continue to improve ease of access and service provision.

“Understanding those individual touch points is so critical, but at the same time it’s very challenging, we’re looking at quite possibly hundreds of different types of customer journeys. So how do we, as an organisation, simplify that process?”

A large driver for the consolidation was also cost, as previously each individual service was responsible for everything within that small business unit, whereas a consolidated enterprise approach provided greater simplicity and productivity in terms of content management systems, technical support, standards and governance.

The launch of the new department intranet in July provided a single location for information sharing for staff across hundreds of locations and sectors across the state, while allowing employees out in the field to access to the site via mobile devices.

“Many of our workers were incredibly disconnected from the organisation because they were out on the field, so the fact that they’re able to be outside and still connected, that’s where we had the groundswell of support – from the bottom up.”

Another major challenge for the department has been managing the cultural change and engagement strategy internally.

“Our biggest challenge is always going to be people. The technology plays a part, and when we started out working with Squiz on mapping our transformation journey our conversations were technology oriented, but we released we needed to discuss people first, and technology second,” said Neath.

“Facilitating that culture change and getting the buy-in was critical. There were elements there where we had to work with people to get through the complexity, but in order to affect that change they had to go through the process themselves.”

Similarly to the new website, the DoI is now focusing on sourcing feedback from internal customers to further develop the intranet, by utilising Squiz’s Roadmap feature.

“That’s the part I’m very excited about, because we’ve provided that very base level platform to connect people and allow that dialogue to start, the next stage is empowering our people to tell us what they need to improve their work, and give them a voice that’s never been there before,” said Neath.

“Our communication has transformed from a very old government-style of hierarchy to saying, I want to hear from you, I want to hear what your problems and challenges are, and opening the dialogue means we have people who feel very valued.”

The role of IT teams within the department has consequently evolved to be more service oriented, while also creating a stronger partnership between marketing and IT to create a customer-centric solution, led by new CIO Ian Janson.

“We had a number of projects that were technology-led and in the end they just missed the mark in terms of managing people’s expectations. “Once Ian [Jansen] gets through managing all the significant legacy issues we have as a government organisation, he’s chomping at the bit to actually look at how we can further improve working together and leveraging those possibilities,” said Neath.