Parliamentary Service has completed a major transition of systems from on-premise operation to a software-as-a-service environment from TechnologyOne.
Parliamentary Service officially went live with its new TechnologyOne SaaS system in early February, completing a project which kicked off 10 months earlier. It is now using TechnologyOne’s finances, budgeting and supply chain management tools to support its operations.
Jade Goddard, the agency’s chief financial officer, said the ability to work anywhere, anytime and from any device was a big selling point.
“We were using an ad-hoc collection of applications that didn’t talk to each other," Goddard said. "Our Microsoft Dynamics installation was behind where you would expect a modern system to be and it was all on-premise, with all the disaster recovery risk that entails."
In 2019, the service shifted from outsourced ICT support to building its own capabilities.
Parliamentary Service is responsible for providing administrative and support services to New Zealand’s 120 Members of Parliament, as well as managing the buildings and grounds of the parliamentary precinct. It employs 460 people with a further 260 staff in regional locations.
The service has become the first agency outside of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to move to a modern SaaS environment based on TechnologyOne’s All of Government Cloud Framework.
Nine others have also signed up.
The Agreement, announced between MBIE and TechnologyOne last April, was designed to make it easier for agencies to adopt SaaS-based operations, and to bring forward the benefits, by adopting a common conceptual framework.
Michael Alp, general manager of finance systems, control and procurement at MBIE. said the agreement provided government agencies the ability to engage with TechnologyOne under standardised terms and a tiered subscription pricing model.
In late 2020, Parliamentary Service commissioned external consultants, to undertake a review of current finance systems and provide recommendations for the future. They recommended a move to SaaS.
Goddard had used and was familiar with TechnologyOne’s systems from a previous role at Land Information New Zealand.
After the All-of-Government cloud framework agreement was finalised by MBIE in early 2021, the Parliamentary Service project team got to work with TechnologyOne planning out the transition for an agency whose operations are somewhat unique among its peers.
“The nature of our work means we have a few idiosyncrasies," Goddard said. "We have two year-ends, for example. MP appointments, and hence budgets, are effective from the date of the last election. So, we have a statutory year-end of June and a parliamentary year-end of October."
Among its other duties, Parliamentary Service is responsible for administering parliamentary funding of around $50 million a year for political parties and members of Parliament. The service is responsible for ensuring all spend is in accordance with very specific rules and guidance, also delivering many unique complexities.
“That means we’re working with a large number of external stakeholders who are able to incur expenses but aren’t our employees," Goddard explained. "It’s an unusual situation and has involved a little customisation of the TechnologyOne system on our behalf."
The transition has gone relatively smoothly among the agency’s internal teams and these external stakeholders in part because of the detailed communication plan created to help manage the change.
“That also hasn’t been without its challenges. When we were initially planning the project we had plans to have team members travelling to MPs offices around the country undertaking training. The COVID lockdowns in the second half of 2021 meant we had to switch those to virtual sessions,” Goddard said.
While the finance team has only completed two month-ends to-date since going live with the new system, Goddard is already planning the next steps.
“I’d like to see us introducing more dashboards and analytics," she said. "Previously that sort of thing was beyond our capabilities, we’d have to wait overnight for reports to run, for example."
Now, with access to real-time information, the service could deliver much more and is planning ahead and thinking about other modules that could add value and streamline operations.
John Mazenier, TechnologyOne’s country manager for New Zealand, said Parliamentary Service was one of many state sector organisations moving to SaaS.
“It’s clear SaaS allows state agencies to deliver services more efficiently and effectively," he said. "A landmark analysis in Australia last year by IBRS and Insight Economics also found potential savings of NZ$67 billion over ten years across their State and Federal government sectors.
“Given our economy is roughly 15 percent of the size of Australia’s that equates to an additional $10 billion to invest in innovation."
Technology One NZ reported revenue of $36.2 million for the year to the end of September 2021, up from $33.4 million in 2020. Profit after tax lifted sharply to $4.8 million from $244,699 as expenses fell.
SaaS revenues lifted to $15 million from $11 million while traditional licence revenue fell from $11.3 million to $9.4 million.