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Why an information project became a cultural exercise at New Zealand's Ministry for the Environment

Nadia Cameron | March 9, 2016
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.

Another thing Hurley has had to balance is business expectations with the risk mitigation and government aspects of the overall IT work.

“The things I worry about are not the things some people on the ground worry about – it’s boring things like putting all our content into one place,” he said. “ We’ve migrated all content from our document management system to the OpenText content server, but we left behind shared drives that contain business records and information that need to be ported across, plus organisation records.

“But if I sit and talk to people in the organisation about some of the challenges are around the work they’ve got underway, it’s very much us moving from a policy demand perspective to thinking about co-creation of policy and design. So rather than sending big files in and out of building to multiple stakeholders, it’s about how do we create collaborative spaces to put documents out and collaborate better. That’s certainly an efficiency gain, but it’s also the information management challenge of having document replicated and being able to bring that back into the organisation centrally and easily.”

Hurley’s advice to anyone going through an information management project is to ensure executive support is there from the get go.

“There was us and New Zealand Transport Agency implementing at the same time, so we’re at the front of the pack in terms of moving into this new world of consuming services from the cloud,” he said. “As a result, executive support was huge for me. Our staff were behind doing this, but having the CEO’s support all the way through with regards to approach, and as a common capability, was key.”

Positioning the new platform in terms of impact to the organisation was another must.

“When I positioned this in terms of who we are and what we do, it wasn’t a hard argument,” Hurley said. “I could have spent lot of time on business case trying to identify a return on investment, how much efficiency we’d gained and attached a dollar to the investment, but fundamentally, it was about what the reputational risk to us was if we lose all this information and knowledge, or can’t respond quickly enough or in time.”


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