Information and knowledge management is the lifeblood of the Ministry for Primary Industries, says the government department’s CIO, Tracy Voice.
The organisation had a significant risk with its existing document management system, as it had been out of support for six years. As well, helpdesk calls were rising and the critical asset was not fit for purpose she says.
“The outcome I was looking for with senior executives, directors, managers and staff, was to gain endorsement for an upgrade to a new environment, an ‘as-a-service” offering’, not the typical purchase and upgrade, which would transform productivity for MPI’s workforce,” she says.
“I used my existing relationships within government, to convince the government CIO to acknowledge this initiative as a common capability for New Zealand government agencies.
“I led the discussion in the All-of-Government ICT Action Strategy sessions with other government CIOs, recommending MPI could lead the first commercial phase to select appropriate suppliers for a government panel.
“Following this, I was successful in gaining the endorsement of Internal Affairs senior leadership, to lead the All of Government Electronic Document Management as a Service contract,” she says.
The second phase was to influence the MPI Corporates Services DDG and Senior Leadership Team, through a series of papers and presentations.
“We selected an appropriate supplier for MPI to pilot the service. It is difficult to adequately describe the size and scope of the effort to get ECMaaS (enterprise content management as a service) across the line, or to over emphasise the influencing required to achieve this goal.
“However, the end result is that all government agencies have the option of document management as a service, and the implementation of the solution at MPI has been a huge success with more than five million documents migrated and 2500 daily users.”
This transformation now has staff working collaboratively on documents together, increasing productivity.
Voice says this year they have implemented a Research, Technology and Innovation Practice framework, appointed key individuals and are now running the practice.
“The concept is we create a number of ideas, present them to the senior leadership team who then chooses which to sponsor. If approved, we then move to a validation exercise.
“This requires us to investigate whether indeed it is a viable option to take to prototype. We then present a validation report to senior leaders, who either approve or not to take this to prototype stage.
She says some of the technologies being prototyped are holography and Terahertz x-ray technology for the airports. The latter will create a hand-held device for border staff to use in detecting biosecurity risks.
Another prototype is the seed identification tool that will help border staff detect contaminated seed in pellets.
Voice has been with MPI for the past five years and spent her first six months in her role re-aligning the Ministry’s technology group (Business Technology Information Services – BTIS) around the Lean IT operating model. Lean IT was the best fit for MPI, as it advocates a good balance between delivery and operations, she says. This model is now evolving to create a bi-modal approach to delivery.
“Creating effective and constructive relationships with key suppliers was also important, which has seen a very good strategic partnership built with Fujitsu as MPI’s managed services provider and aggregated services manager,” she says.
This is another common capability which MPI led for all of government, she states.
“The Ministry’s IT Strategy (the Information Technology Strategy – ITS) aligns with the objectives of the Ministry perfectly, in which we support our frontline and back office staff with information and data to effectively excel operationally.
“The first order of business was to ensure that the new ministry had the basic building blocks for an effective business (data warehouse and business intelligence, document management, geospatial information, xRM/Salesforce and web platform).
“With these technology platforms in place, BTIS is now able to focus attention on creating business value out of our information assets,” she says.
“The recent refresh of the IT strategy exploits these opportunities via four key categories: Improving our insight, mobilisation; integrated experience and exploiting emerging technologies.
Each of these strategic pillars builds on the significant work put into building MPI’s technology platform, over the past four years, she says.
“As well as being excellent in an operational sense, we must also drive sound decision-making and share knowledge by enabling our staff and stakeholders to access the information they need, when they need it.
“This means aligning our data and information in a way that makes it available and useful – which includes making information about primary industries easily available to the public and industries.”
To engage with the stakeholders, there is a BTIS Newstalk, a blog that is accessible to everyone within MPI.
“We are constantly holding sessions through the business, whether it is the ‘Data and Info Week’, or working with Leaders on Business Ownership/Data Stewardship. We also attend sessions where we talk about technology across regional roadshows.
“We also attend the Touchstone sessions with staff, to understand and gather feedback. Success has been in our feedback from our customer satisfaction results, as well as BASS metrics.
“The key, however, has been my people and something I have been the driving force behind connecting people throughout the organisation by working closely with MPIs HR team, to create Career Pathways for staff based around the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) – a visible way for the team to plan their future with MPI. In fact, I have also been a vocal proponent for SFIA within the wider Wellington ecosystem, advocating it within government and the IT industry at large.”
Voice is a member of the All of Government ICT Technology group and has been successful in advocating the SFIA framework as the basis of an AOG Skills Framework.
“We have a diverse team based on the skills and expertise we appoint into the team. We have an extreme push on development plans and career pathways, and have plenty of evidence to demonstrate this.”