Ministry for the Environment takes cloud first approach with All of Government ECMaaS

In 2015, Ministry for the Environment (MfE) together with Techtonics, successfully launched Te Puna (The Source), their OpenText Content Server Enterprise Content Management System. The solution is part of the All of Government ECM as a Service (AoG ECMaaS) programme. The Ministry chose to move from their existing  document management system to a cloud first approach to improve their culture of knowledge management and reduce risk to the business. A thorough evaluation process, detail oriented implementation and strong team culture has led to a new information environment at the Ministry.

Critical Turning Point

In 2013, MfE found themselves in a situation where their most vital business system was also their greatest risk. Putting an organisational focus on improving knowledge management, coupled with increasing information security expectations led the Ministry to have a fundamental look at the processes and tools that support good knowledge management.  MfE felt that to really make gains in protecting its information and improving knowledge management maturity, an upgrade or replacement of its document management system was required.

Creating the Selection Process

Just as the Ministry decided to move to resolve the situation, the AoG ECMaaS Panel was announced. For the Ministry, it was clear that they would support the government’s effort to encourage common capabilities.

This kicked off an intensive process of evaluation. The key objectives of the project were:

  1. Reduce business risk; and
  2. Find an easy to use system, that support an organisational push to improve knowledge management and minimises the cost of change management.

The process involved an initial evaluation of the vendors on the panel and their ability to meet requirements within the budget, demos from the vendors and a specific case study demonstrating the products ability to deliver a predefined list of activities. At this stage, OpenText Content Server started to pull ahead and Techtonics was invited to undertake a proof of concept with selected MfE staff.

The Winning Solution

The process was rigorous because of the high expectations from the Ministry and the project team to yield a product that would both deliver to the needs of the organisation and reflect the value of the investment. “Everybody was wanting to see the project be successful”, says Neil Hurley, Director, IT and Project Management Office at MfE:

The expectation in the organisation was huge so we had to get it right. We needed a very robust system, so we went through a four stage evaluation process and that’s when we started getting involved with Techtonics. We had confidence in their ability to deliver due to their previous implementations of OpenText Content Server, their flexibility and adaptability in the approach we took with the design of the system and their detailed knowledge of the system. The whole process gave us the confidence that Techtonics was going to get us over the line.

One of the key reasons for focusing on usability in the review process was to reduce the amount of change management required from the transition, the focus would be less on how to use the system and more on why knowledge management is important to the Ministry.

“The whole idea was, make it easy for people and make it feel relatively seamless. We wanted them to feel like they could take care of the information that they created and received. It’s easier to do when the product allows that to happen.”

Implementing the Change

MfE chose the OpenText Content Server cloud based offering as the best fit for the business. Once the decision was made, the teams from OpenText, Techtonics, Datacom and MfE came together to plan the implementation. The most risky part was identified early on as the migration phase of the project.

"We got our resources working with Anthony from Techtonics and the migration was planned to the nth degree. Having that deep understanding of the database, content and metadata meant that I've never seen a migration go as well as ours, we had 100% success. There was not a single record or metadata field that was dropped or lost anywhere in the process and it all went as planned. It was pretty spectacular."

Selecting and deploying an easy to use product was the first part of the process. MfE invested in making sure that its users were able to make the most of the system from day one through pre-launch training and post-launch floor walking support. An important consideration in selecting Techtonics for this stage was the adaptability shown by the company during the evaluation and implementation processes as well as the continuity provided by having one team bring the project to life.

Even though it was MfE's version of OpenText, the Trainers had a knowledge of the business, what we were implementing and why we were implementing it. They were able to tell the story around it.  My peers talked to me about the training sessions that they went to where the guys were able to very quickly pick up the mood of the group and their level of understanding. It made life a lot easier to have consistency on go live with the same people walking around. The feedback was extremely positive.

A Successful Outcome

The hard work put into the project by all parties paid off with the team at MfE coming together around the project.

The project team were empowered by the CEO and myself to get on with it. The whole organisation were supportive because they saw that we were trying to make their lives better. The team felt like they were doing something that was of real value to the organisation. They saw it as a massive opportunity.

Enthusiasm for the new system manifested itself in many ways.  Groups within MfE were prompt in creating their file structures and they collectively created a new name for the system, Te Puna.  Rather ironically, on the day of go live, Neil retells that staff enthusiasm for the new system did have some knock on effects, a large amount of filing happened on the first morning that had been put off in anticipation of Te Puna  

I had to ask people to ‘please, stop filing or moving large amounts of content around, things are not going to get lost, please take your time!’ The feedback was just that people were so surprised at how easy it was to work with Content Server.

Looking Ahead

OpenText Content Server has now been deployed to over 380 staff at MfE and the Ministry are looking at future solutions with Techtonics and OpenText. These include external collaboration tools to help them work with other government agencies and external organisations as well as digitising business processes as much as possible.

Neil says that they have made a commitment to keeping the system current.

Knowledge is the second most important asset in this building behind our staff, and if we don’t treat it with the same care and attention, we aren’t going to be an exceptional organisation.


Photo credit: Routeburn track, Rob Vanderpoel Senior Information Management Consultant