Accelerate your business by modernising the core with a services lens

As part of Deloitte’s eighth annual Technology Trends report, we sat down with Matthew Boyley, CIO at Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to get his take on modernising core IT systems. Here’s what he had to say.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s XaaS program has been focused on reducing legacy systems and transforming our digital services to better support both internal users and Australian small and medium sized businesses.

Today, the Department delivers a number of significant XaaS platforms, including a large CRM system, one of two whole of government grants management platforms, the website and a range of associated internal and external web services.

To deliver the transformation, we firstly worked on reducing our legacy debt to free up resource capacity. We gained support to simplify services back to a smaller future-proofed product set, supported by a range of tools to meet business outcomes. We then adopted a collaborative position with our internal clients to define the problem and develop solutions based on that rationalised product set.

This allowed us to focus on building deeper expertise across the smaller set of highly flexible and supportable products, instead of being drawn across a broader range of products at much more shallow expertise level.

Central to the approach was the need to simplify core services and leverage advances in cloud technology. As we operate in a classified information environment, we focused on a hybrid cloud implementation model. The first candidates were outward-facing services to Australian businesses. We implemented a competitive partner model for alarge quantity of projects that retained our delivery partners. We also worked with our partners to adopt agile delivery methods and used their teams to augment our internal resources as we built in-house capabilities.

The scale of the reform has been significant. Business Registration Services is one of the Department’s largest products, enabling a fast, seamless business registration from multiple agencies. VANguard, the Government’s digital authentication service broker, manages over 140 million transactions a year and authenticates transactions between 65 unique entities with 70 other online services. The Department’s reform of business-facing services to deliver an omni-channel, agile series of products and services has been the catalyst for changes across both business areas and IT.

Balancing challenges with benefits

Perhaps the biggest change has been the central consolidation of the Department’s ‘IT shop’. Our team is now faster to market, can test and deploy new services faster, can remove reliance on some of the traditional upgrade roadblocks more effectively and is more closely aligned with business outcomes.

A key advantage has been that by using XaaS or software-as-a-service, it enables an upgrade path where you are paying for upgrades as you go. Our philosophy has also now changed from: “Why should it go to cloud?” to “Why shouldn’t it go to cloud?” A hybrid environment of in-house and cloud services is required because of the need to manage classified information, though this does create challenges with in-house technology keeping pace with the cloud upgrade paths. The transformation has also increased the in-house skills required, so an investment in skills has been pursued. We have proven that we can integrate a seamless offering from multiple vendors. Our experience in is being shared with other departments, and so benefits from scale will continue to develop as the market matures.

Considerations for Government CIOs

In providing digital services to government, efficiency and speed-to-market remain important but we also need to observe the regulatory environment requirements. We often need to grapple with jurisdictional boundaries and have the additional factors of the Protective Security Policy Framework, data sovereignty and mandatory privacy controls to respond to.

We are accountable to citizens and Parliament which means that all spending is under scrutiny. As a result, government departments need to be more cautious than the private sector, and this can make adoption slower. Change is not impossible though: for example, we expect to see acceleration in the use of cloud as public acceptance grows and we build on our early successes. The ‘start small, prove the technology and then grow’ model has worked well and is allowing scaling up to be done at a lower risk profile than previously.

Primary ownership of some projects are owned by states and territories or local government, so my team plays a connecting and facilitative role to help drive more competitive businesses in Australia. We are now taking an ‘API centric’ approach, where the Department publishes APIs and lets them be consumed by agencies and the public. This is forming the basis of the first wave of government trying to simplify the business landscape.

One measure of our success is the number of enquiries we are getting from other departments about our transformation journey. Our end-user focus means we have programs that offer agile delivery and can work with multi-disciplinary teams to help them.

Government CIOs embarking on a XaaS journey must have a clear understanding of how the plan ties to business value and the customer outcomes, and on talent management and how to leverage external vendors. They also should not be afraid to challenge the status quo.

The feedback has been very positive: we are now operating in an environment based on greater trust, understanding, honesty and willingness to collaborate.

The end product is selling itself, which is extremely rewarding.

Matthew Boyley is the Chief information Officer (CIO) and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science where he heads the Digital Strategy and Operations Division. The Division delivers a range of services to external and internal users including; Australian Business Number (ABN) Lookup; the Australian Business Licence Information System (ABLIS); VANguard – a whole of government authentication platform, technology for the whole of government Grants Hub; and the end to end ICT Services for the Department Australia wide.

Matt was previously the CIO for a number of Commonwealth Departments and has undertaken leadership roles in government technology for agencies including the Australian Federal Police and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC).

He provides independent governance advice and assistance for major technology driven transformational change projects at other departments

He holds a Bachelor of Laws as well as a number of ICT qualifications including PRINCE2, ITIL and MSP.

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