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Bully building body replacement's tech transformation trips before bouncing back

George Nott | July 7, 2016
‘Intimidation and harassment’ had become part of the culture at the Queensland Building Services Authority, but tech has transformed its replacement, the QBCC

"We thought we were great. And the reality was actually there were areas, in fact just about all areas, that we could deliver a better service experience."

The project leaders stopped work, suspended suppliers and went back to the drawing board, and the board, telling them: "We have to pause. We're going to spend just too much money and do it the wrong way."


The pause lasted for three months. In June the QBCC appointed a new CIO, Ben Ward, and the failed SF15 was revised and renamed - SD15 (Service Delivery 2015).

Agile PMO

The QBCC went about reassessing what they were trying to deliver and set up an 'enterprise project management office' which Ward says: "has been staffed with 'overachievers.' Because it is important, we recruited the very best talent available."

The customer journey was redesigned and a new goal for QBCC's services was determined: 'three steps to anywhere'. Mapped out in Post-its and pictures on a wall of the office (which became known as the 'Customer Corridor') it formed the basis of the new digital platform design.

The project management office (PMO) adopted Agile ways of working while Ward "kick-started a strategic shift to a bimodal IT model". SD15 teams were collocated, agile application Jira was deployed, and leaders worked hard to promote collaboration and make project activities transparent to staff.

"You can't have isolation between functional teams," says Ward. "We need testing and operations involved right at the start. We need daily team stand-ups and weekly meetings across all the teams to cross-pollinate and solve problems early. Delaying getting people involved early increases the size and impact of problems."

Ward and the PMO also set up regular, mandatory vendor meetings.

"Which must be attended by a senior account representative who has the authority and is empowered to answer questions and own actions," he explained. "Problems that need escalation can be aired in the joint vendor forum, and solutions devised, agreed and acted on more quickly."

McGregor also 'reset the message' of transformation to the wary staff. He admits the organisation is still "dealing with that brand damage" caused by canning SF15. Key to convincing staff of the benefits has been in the results.

Appetite for speed

"When you go through a parliamentary inquiry it's not a great thing as a staff member who has been there and put blood, sweat and tears into your organisation," says McGregor. "That's a really demoralising thing. They were devastated. We had to give [them] a new sense of identity and purpose and vision."

In October 2015, the first phase of SD15 was released as planned. Within a month there was a 38 per cent customer swing to online and mobile channels. Today, data collected from customers is twice as accurate. Dispute case times have nearly halved.


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