TECHNOLOGY – IN particular those related to data – play a central role as the Ministry of Social Development tackles it key priorities over the next four years of building its capability and moving towards a people-centred operating model.
MSD CIO David Habershon explains how the ICT group is gearing its focus and deployment of projects towards meeting these goals.
Transactional business processes represent a significant proportion of the Ministry’s activity and operating costs, states Habershon. The Simplification programme, which is one of the Ministry’s major projects, is redesigning these processes to be ‘simple at the front and smart at the back’.
“It will remove duplication from different parts of the Ministry and streamline and automate the application, assessment and payment of financial assistance and support,” he says.
The Simplification project is also about developing comprehensive online and mobile services to encourage users to take up self-service options.
“We have recently launched MyMSD, which is a new way to check appointments, or view payments and other details. It’s a simple option you can use on your mobile, tablet or computer,” he says. “We are also investigating modern tools to support mobile frontline staff, this is likely to include the use of mobile apps.”
As the Ministry transforms service delivery and transactional services – through the Simplification Programme – the IT group is using the opportunity to develop a stronger digital capability, says Habershon.
“This is more than a new two-speed, hybrid operating model,” explains Habershon. “It is a balance to how we deliver IT projects and services. This will be a new strength area that will see us able to take best advantage of both the ‘agile by default’ process of project delivery, as well as ensuring enterprise stability for our core systems. This way of working will not only make IT better, it will support business change in the wider-Ministry.”
Habershon says that this will make the IT group more responsive to the needs of more self-managing channels, and help the Ministry keep up with the changing needs of its client base and the wider sector.
“This hybrid IT model ensures that we can leverage technology innovation to rapidly trial and deliver new and effective service design for our clients, partners and staff, he says. “At the same time, we will be able to ensure the resilience of critical services through robust, secure and stable core IT systems. High quality of delivery of such core systems will be maintained through robust controls, assurance and risk management processes.”
The Ministry acknowledges that data and the information it provides are among its most significant assets.
Thus, the Ministry’s data and analytics expertise are now consolidated into one place, the Data Hub, in order to maximise the use and value of their data.
The Data Hub was established to provide a single view of the people they work with, and modernise its ICT systems to better manage information and more effectively deliver services.
Over the next four years, MSD will look at how it can better share its data with other agencies, including central government and non-government organisations to further enhance the base of information decision making.
As for one of the major projects that delivered the biggest improvement to the organisation, Habershon cites the ministry successfully transferred tenant information from Housing New Zealand’s Northgate system to its own C?ram Client Management System.
“This transfer involved over 63,000 current tenancies, another 5000 applicants from the social housing register and many more historical records,” says Habershon. “This means that the Ministry has a more complete picture of tenants’ situation and the help tenants and their families may be entitled to.”
The ICT team is also working closely on the implementation of the Community Investment Strategy. This programme set out how the MSD will purchase social services over the next three years. The ministry purchases around $330 million of such services each year.
Improving the quality and consistency of data collected will help the Ministry to better understand clients’ needs and the results it wants to achieve, and measure the effectiveness of services over time. Work on the programme will be gradual and will have implications for its information collection systems. The ICT group aims to develop an infrastructure that is aimed at better data collection for this and other Ministry programmes.