Implementing a cloud-based document management system successfully at New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment was less about technology investment, and more about the cultural change required to get people on-board and on-side.
Speaking at the recent OpenText Innovation Tour in Sydney, the department’s director of IT and project management, Neil Hurley, shared the steps he took to overhaul its enterprise-wide information management approach and bring MfE into the digital and cloud era.
MfE is the primary advisor on New Zealand environmental issues to the government, as well as advice on international environmental matters. This encompasses resource management through to fresh water, marine, air and climate change. The organisation has between 300 and 380 employees.
The main IT bugbear Hurley faced when he took up the IT director’s helm two-and-a-half years ago was its document management system. The application was sitting on very old infrastructure in a purpose-built server room with no disaster recovery, and as a result, couldn’t be moved to an as-a-service environment, a key ambition for the NZ Government as a whole.
“Safe to say it was unsupported by the vendor, hadn’t been upgraded for 5-7 years and was the bane of most staff’s life in terms of doing their job,” Hurley told attendees. “We are a policy agency, so knowledge is really powerful to us, and this was our number one business critical app, but it wasn’t being cared for.
“That was our big challenge – how do we move away from a system users didn’t want to engage with, to one users wanted to engage with and use. Getting access to information and knowledge is critical to us to provide the advice we need to provide.”
MfE chose OpenText’s Enterprise Content management-as-a-system as its next-generation platform and rolled it out last year. The platform is used to capture the flow of all information from capture through to archiving and disposition and was deployed by OpenText Global Services and its partner Techtonics, supported by Datacom.
While things may have started as an IT exercise, as MfE moved through the project, there was a shift away from business risk mitigation, to the power of getting a good handle on information and turning that into something useful and strategic for its staff, Hurley said.
“This was not a tech project largely – there’s clearly an IT component to it – but it’s mostly a business change activity,” Hurley explained. “We brought in a contract project manager to help with this, and I put him in front of 200 people after I’d made an update on our technology roadmap, in order to save the best til last: That we were replacing the document management system. Those 200 people stood up and gave us a round of applaud.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.