Ministry of Health rebuilds applications to vanquish Lotus Notes legacy

Ministry of Health rebuilds applications to vanquish Lotus Notes legacy

Microsoft the winner as Lotus Notes licences nearly halve in the 2023 financial year.

Credit: Photo 124339506 © Tumeyes |

Manatū Hauora - the Ministry of Health is making progress in its efforts to move beyond its legacy Lotus Notes platform and applications.

The IT group's flagship programme, modernising Manatū Hauora, continued "at pace" and was part of a wider programme to provide staff with tools they need to work productively, cooperatively and to be fully mobile.

"This programme of work has further built on the ministry’s modern platforms and retired the legacy Lotus Notes environment," the ministry reported. 

Twenty applications built on Lotus Notes, the platform used by the ministry for 27 years, were decommissioned during the year to 30 June and the ministry was redeveloping six of these on Microsoft technologies.

"We removed our dependency on Lotus Notes for our email, including several business applications that used this platform for automated email notifications," the ministry said in its annual report. 

"This has significantly simplified our environment and allowed us to decommission old services."

A Microsoft SharePoint-based enterprise content management environment, named Pātengi, had been adopted and the migration of over 80 million documents from Notes was initiated in May.

The number of Lotus Notes licences fell from from 2,342 to 1,200 during the 2023 financial year. 

"This will result in financial savings when we come to renew what is left of the Lotus Notes software contract," the ministry said.

The ministry has been part of an Ombudsman's review of Official Information Act compliance in the public sector, which found its information management practices wanting and indications staff were struggling with the Lotus Notes system.

A survey found two-thirds of staff considered it very difficult or somewhat difficult to use the ministry's information management systems to search for and find information.

IBM announced that it was selling a number of software products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, to HCLTech for US$1.8 billion in December 2018. The deal was completed in July 2019 and Notes is now called HCL Notes.

The ministry contracted Spark business unit Spark Health to execute a new single national contract with Microsoft worth $45 million annually in late 2021.

Among other developments at the ministry, a team was stood up in the first quarter of 2022 to enhance Manatū Hauora's Microsoft collaboration tools, in particular Microsoft Teams.

Systems to improve system governance had been implemented to ensure security processes were in place and that the ministry could manage the automation behind Teams, such as in managing guest users.

As a result, 34 Microsoft applications designed to work within Teams were made available to staff.

Teams federation and guest management capabilities put in place in 2021 had been reworked to make the list of approved-for-federation organisations available to staff. More than 70 organisations were now approved to use Teams with Manatū Hauora.

A recently released Teams feature, shared channels, had been implemented to enhance collaboration with Te Whatu Ora.

Evergreen for Teams, which will capture and manage the increasing number of changes that Microsoft introduces, had also been deployed.

Cyber security remained a key area of attention; The ministry's ICT security services team had two major deliverables – supporting ICT outcomes by ensuring technology solutions met all appropriate assurance baselines and providing technology and information security expertise to the ministry’s protective security team.

The team also ensured new or substantially upgraded IT systems delivered during the reporting period were certified and accredited according to protective security requirements and NZ Information Security Manual obligations.

"During the year, we continued a programme of modernising our internal ICT systems and managed to remove some high risk areas of legacy IT risk, including replacement of our legacy intranet site," the ministry reported.

A legacy payroll system was also expected be replaced by October.

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Tags MicrosoftLotus NotesMinistry of HealthManatū HauoraManatū Hauora - the Ministry of Health



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