How New Zealand’s prisons adapted process, not technology, for better welfare

A new rostering system is one example of a digital transformation underway at NZ Corrections, led by chief digital officer Alastair Turrell.

On the face of it, a rostering system is a simple IT problem to solve: On one side are hours to fill and on the other are staff to fill them. All the system needs to do is match them up. And maybe in a standard business that’s how it works, but for the IT team at New Zealand Corrections, deploying a new workforce planning solution has involved fundamentally changing the daily processes and operations in the nation’s prisons.

alastair turrell nz corrections NZ Corrections

Alastair Turrell, chief digital officer, New Zealand Corrections

Chief Digital Officer Alastair Turrell says the department is on track to complete the rollout of its Kronos workplace planning system, which is part of its SAP environment, in New Zealand’s 18 jails by 2022. The project is part of the department’s change-management programme called Making Shifts Work and involves various stakeholders. The governance committee for the programme includes the national commissioner, senior department executives, and representatives from two unions (Public Service Association and Corrections Association), the police, and Deloitte.

“Although it might seem like a technology project, it’s actually a people and process change job with some complex technology inconveniently included,” Turrell says.

With an environment that is unique, the temptation might have been to fit the technology to the prisons’ operating procedures. But heavy customisation can lead to legacy tech debt that is costly and cumbersome — it’s much better to deploy a system in its “vanilla state” so that it remains current with the vendor’s global roadmap.

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