Digital transformation strategy for the Legislative | New Zealand

Read William De Vos’ text from Pāremata Aotearoa (Parliament of New Zealand) based on his participation in LegisTech Series

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📌 This text is the result of the transcription of the panelist’s participation in Bússola Tech’s event



The New Zealand Parliament is a slightly unique Parliament in many ways. We have 120 members of parliament. We also support around 130 electorate offices, which can be spread anywhere in the Country. On top of that, we also support ministerial services and ministers. We look after both parliament and ministerial members, yet we are in parliamentary service. That’s quite exciting and gives us some unique customer base. 


We are rolling out a service platform for the New Zealand Parliament. One of the really exciting things about service. We’re moving away from our old model, where every department has their own system that they’re using to interact with the customer that the IT team then has to support. It is difficult to support, because you need different system analysts, different developers and that’s the situation we’re in now. 


We’ve got 40 to 50 different systems running on precinct for all the different teams, all the different services we provide. We have one portal called IT online, which is where you can go to get help. If you’re a customer and what we’re hoping to do is IT, HR, finance or any type of query, you can go into that portal, get help and access the services directly. It’s a huge step up for us in our kind of customer service offering, so we’re really excited to be on the service journey and I think we’re just looking at all the opportunities. 


Our cloud journey started back in 2016, when we moved our website into Microsoft’s public cloud, Azure and we had two other initiatives after that: I) to roll out Microsoft Teams and power apps for users, but both the initiatives were put on hold after the change in Australian law, the data privacy act, but with Microsoft’s announcement of moving the data centres to New Zealand, we have been looking into our cloud strategy,to leverage the cloud platform to provide a quick and effective solution in the Covid-19 era. 


When the pandemic arrived first in our country and we all went into the lockdown, there was a need for a better collaborative tool to support the remote working arrangements, and that’s when, within a few days of lockdown, we were able to roll out Zoom to everybody. That has been really effective in supporting our work from home strategy and there are a few other cloud initiatives, like we are currently implementing the IT Service Management module of the service.


We are currently in the phase of implementing the IT Service Management module in the service platform and it is due to the fact our existing tool was a legacy application and we were due to upgrade it. The subsequent phases are to implement the onboarding and off-boarding of different types of users into the system to streamline the process and make it more effective. There are a few things that we are trying to achieve from this platform. We want to provide a single platform for all the users to put any type of query to any department. It is one place where they can go and ask for help or service. We also want to give more visibility to our management team to gauge what quality of service we are providing to our members, staff and other customers, so we could take some of the benefits of those learnings to improve, where possible. 


If you were to ask me how well our service desk team was performing, we wouldn’t know, because we don’t have the data, nor reporting from our current system. That’s one of the powerful things we get from servicenow, we can actually see what our service level agreements are and if they are being met, but more importantly our customers can see those as well. At the moment, they send their query to a shared email inbox and get an automated reply, and then they just wait. Whereas with this, we’re going to be able to actually deliver an ongoing service improvement 


We are also working on refreshing our digital strategy. So, we are trying to deviate from giving one standard service to all, to an a la carte service that fits the need of the specific role. In that space is the initiative to allow users to bring their own device, which will allow members to work on the device that they can opt for. Microsoft Intune is something that we are leveraging to implement that. 


The other initiative that we are working on is a data centre. It’s not a customer-facing initiative, but the government releases the earthquake compliance code every year, and then all the buildings have to comply with it. The current building where we were hosted was due for going into the earthquake strengthening work and that’s where our data centres were located, and now we are making progress by moving the data centres from that building to a Parliament House and, while doing that, we are also upgrading to the latest technology in that space.


That was a simple requirement we had, as the data centre wasn’t in an earthquake strengthened building. In Wellington, we’re in a high earthquake risk zone and if our data centre went down, we could lose years of parliamentary information. Although we do back up, it could take a long time to recover. 


We are looking to implement an agile sort of cross-functional team structure for our IT Team. We’re also focusing on women in leadership for IT. At the moment, regrettably, we don’t have any women in formal leadership roles, which is something that we’re definitely working on. We have a new strategy that’s going to look at some ways that we can develop and promote to have more women in leadership in IT in the future. 


Parliamentary service provides almost all of the office of the Clerks’ needs for ICT. The relationship between the office of the Clerk and the parliamentary service goes on a day-to-day basis in the provision of all of the hardware and software to support the capital projects, the development of applications that support all the teams across the business, as they support members, select committees and the public that engaged with the institution of parliament. The key thing for a customer of parliamentary service is to work in partnership.


It is a partnership approach between the parliamentary service and all of our customers. The digital strategy is something where we actually want to bring all of our customers’ needs and all of their systems into one comprehensive strategy. The office of the Clerk brings the business needs for Parliament and for members to do their job in the 21st century, not only in the present, but also in the future.


In the past, every organisation managed their own strategic initiatives, and it’s hard to gain a long-term vision for what you want to achieve as a Parliament. What we really see our digital strategy being is:

I) when is a system going out of life;

II) what are the other things we’re doing around here that we could utilise?;

III) where are the optimisations utilising enterprise solutions?


We want to partner with our customers to deliver a seamless experience with them. This isn’t a game, where there are winners and losers, in the end, we all win, and that’s the kind of approach we’ve taken. We’ve gone from what was two years ago quite an adversarial relationship to a much more partnership approach. We want to start engaging more with our core customers, to talk more about what they need.


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