Parliament of New Zealand
The New Zealand Parliament, with its 120 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 130 electorate offices spread throughout the country, presents a unique and complex environment that requires comprehensive and efficient technological support. In response to this challenge, the Parliamentary Service has been actively pursuing digital transformation initiatives to modernise its infrastructure and streamline services. This essay delves into the details of various innovative projects undertaken by the Parliamentary Service, including the implementation of a unified service platform, the adoption of cloud services, data centre migration, promotion of diversity in leadership, and the fostering of customer-centric partnerships.
Unified Service Platform
Historically, the Parliamentary Service relied on a diverse array of 40 to 50 different systems to manage and support the myriad services it offered to MPs, staff, and other users. This fragmentation created numerous challenges for both the IT team and end-users, including the need for different system analysts and developers, as well as the lack of consistency and integration between systems. To overcome these issues, the Parliamentary Service embarked on a journey to create a unified platform called IT Online, which serves as a central portal for users to access assistance and resources across a range of departments, such as IT, HR, and finance.
The implementation of IT Service Management in the service platform marks a significant step forward in consolidating the disparate systems used previously. This initiative aims to provide greater visibility and transparency to both management and customers, enabling them to monitor performance metrics and track service level agreements more effectively. With this increased visibility, the Parliamentary Service can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance the overall user experience, ultimately leading to better alignment between the services provided and the actual needs of end-users.
Cloud Services and Covid-19 Response
The New Zealand Parliament began exploring the potential of cloud services in 2016 by migrating its website to Microsoft’s Azure public cloud platform. Although the initial plan to roll out Microsoft Teams and Power Apps faced obstacles due to changes in Australian data privacy laws, Microsoft’s subsequent decision to establish data centres in New Zealand has reinvigorated the organisation’s cloud strategy. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of adopting cloud services to maintain business continuity, as the lockdown measures necessitated the rapid deployment of Zoom as a collaborative tool to support remote work. This swift response demonstrated the agility and resilience that cloud services can offer in times of crisis. In addition to Zoom, the Parliamentary Service is implementing the IT Service Management module in the cloud, further streamlining processes and improving the overall efficiency of service delivery.
Data Centre Migration and Earthquake Compliance
Another critical initiative undertaken by the New Zealand Parliament is the migration of its data centre. This project was prompted by the government’s earthquake compliance code, which mandates that all buildings meet specific earthquake safety standards. The current building housing the data centre is undergoing earthquake strengthening work, necessitating the move to Parliament House. This relocation also presents an opportunity to upgrade the data centre infrastructure with the latest technology, ensuring the safety and integrity of vital parliamentary information in a region known for its high earthquake risk. The data centre migration project underscores the importance of safeguarding parliamentary data, as the loss or damage of this information could have far-reaching consequences for the functioning of the Parliament.
Digital Strategy and Bring Your Own Device Initiative
As part of its ongoing digital strategy refresh, the Parliamentary Service is transitioning from a one-size-fits-all service model to a more personalised, à la carte approach tailored to the unique needs of individual roles. This strategic shift includes an initiative that allows users to bring their own devices, providing MPs and staff with the flexibility to work on the hardware of their choice. To facilitate this change, the Parliamentary Service is leveraging Microsoft Intune, a comprehensive device management solution that ensures secure access to critical information and applications across a diverse range of devices. By adopting a more flexible and user-centric approach, the Parliamentary Service aims to create a more efficient and satisfying experience for all users, ultimately enhancing productivity and engagement.
Diversity in Leadership and Cross-Functional Teams
The Parliamentary Service acknowledges the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion, particularly within the IT sector. The current lack of women in formal leadership roles has prompted the organisation to develop strategies for fostering a more inclusive environment, with the ultimate goal of achieving a more balanced representation in leadership positions. These initiatives include mentorship programs, targeted recruitment efforts, and the creation of a supportive workplace culture that encourages diversity and the sharing of different perspectives.
In addition to promoting diversity in leadership, the Parliamentary Service is exploring the implementation of agile, cross-functional teams to improve collaboration and efficiency within the IT team. By breaking down silos and encouraging team members to work together towards common goals, the organisation aims to foster a more innovative and dynamic work environment, where ideas can be shared, and solutions can be developed more quickly and effectively.
Partnership Approach with Customers
The relationship between the Office of the Clerk and the Parliamentary Service emphasises a partnership approach, focusing on collaboration and open communication to meet the needs of all stakeholders. This partnership is reflected in the development of a comprehensive digital strategy that encompasses the needs and requirements of various customers and aligns systems and initiatives with the long-term vision for Parliament.
By working together, the Parliamentary Service and the Office of the Clerk can more effectively address the challenges faced by MPs, staff, and other customers, ensuring that their needs are met through innovative and efficient solutions. This collaborative approach is designed to deliver a seamless experience and better outcomes for all parties involved, fostering a spirit of cooperation and mutual support.
The New Zealand Parliament’s digital transformation journey has been characterised by a strong emphasis on innovation, collaboration, and customer-centricity. Through the implementation of a unified service platform, the adoption of cloud services, the migration to a more secure data centre, and the promotion of diversity in leadership, the Parliamentary Service is well-positioned to better serve MPs, staff, and other customers in the years to come. By embracing these innovative initiatives and fostering a culture of partnership and collaboration, the New Zealand Parliament is demonstrating its commitment to remaining agile, efficient, and responsive in an ever-changing world.
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