When the Government signalled the green light to its tertiary educations reforms programme, it set a swift challenge for the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), as the lead agency responsible for managing relationships with tertiary providers, and responsible for distributing $2.5 billion annually to over 1000 tertiary providers ranging from universities to polytechnics, wananga and industry training organisations.
The reforms set TEC on a path of rapid business change, driving technology change across the organisation. Pivotal to TEC’s changing business environment was their commitment to a strategic IT roadmap that involved migrating to a Microsoft technology stack that would encompass Microsoft Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS).
TEC’s newly appointed Group Manager for IT, CIO, Greg Smith, was no stranger to business transformation, with 30 years’ experience in commercial organisations.
“Policy change had profound effects on our IT requirements. Our decisions needed to be future proof, and capable of responding to an evolving environment. To orchestrate the implementation of Microsoft’s core tool set, we wanted to secure a partner who would work with us in a truly collaborative space. By engaging Intergen early in the process, we had a partnership that both entities could invest in.”
As TEC entered a new era, driven by a new funding model and a more holistic set of objectives and performance measures for the tertiary sector, it required ‘almost a reinvention’ of IT services to support policy reforms.
Severely limited by an existing bespoke development platform, TEC aimed for high value results from the agile features of a Microsoft technology environment.
Partnership puts innovation high on the agenda
From the outset, both TEC and Intergen were on the same page when they bypassed traditional incremental project-by-project thinking in favour of agile methodology. Intergen’s Business Development Manager Bruce Smith says “TEC’s dramatically changed model required a new set of technology solutions. At the same time, exciting developments in the information technology industry are converging – the primary revolutions being product-based solutions to business problems and the maturing of agile development practices.” “When combined, these models have synergies that allow extremely rapid implementation of business tools. Agile development provides a structure that ensures constant feedback throughout the entire development process, with the flexibility to support evolving or unknown processes. Agile places people first.
It meant that we were working closely together to respond to weekly and daily changes in the TEC world. That process cemented a new type of relationship between TEC and Intergen. Ultimately it provided a solution that was a synergy of strategy, operations and technology.”
Intergen Business Analyst Mark Orange says “It was a ‘ballsy move’ by TEC and full credit to Greg Smith’s vision for how he perceived establishing a base Microsoft platform capable of evolving in small but high value steps.”
Greg Smith observes that a number of Government agencies are closely tracking their progress – “The way in which we are utilising the Microsoft product set is regarded as very innovative by other agencies and everyone is interested in seeing quality outcomes.”
Trusted advisor capacity has long-term horizons
Intergen and TEC have embarked on a three-year engagement. Coincidentally the length of an undergraduate degree. But CIO Greg Smith is looking at wider horizons.
“Early on in the tender process we felt Intergen’s culture was a best fit with us. We didn’t want to be dealing with a large organisation and all the bureaucracy that goes along with that way of working. I am very pleased with the way Intergen has brought resolution to any problems. All businesses say they will perform, but the test is crunch time, and Intergen has more than risen to the challenges.”
Greg Smith refers to the partnership as an investment.
“We have both taken the approach where we actively want to invest in the relationship. We have encouraged Intergen to retain a higher level of expertise than they would normally on a client’s behalf. As an organisation we don’t have the capacity to hold and retain industry best personnel, but Intergen can ensure those people are core to our partnership. They are a better home for the depth and breadth of skills we need long-term.”
Strategic roadmap eyes the future
The “new world” of tertiary reforms goes live on 1 January 2008. This date is critical to TEC’s contract with tertiary providers, as it launches a plan of provision that will provide certainty of cash flow to providers and provide in-depth performance monitoring for the future.
Six months of intensive design and development now sees Microsoft CRM, SharePoint and Office 2007 currently being rolled out to pilot users.
Intergen’s Bruce Smith comments “Selecting the Microsoft technology stack to assist this strategic roadmap places TEC in a secure position for the future. Microsoft solutions offer high integration, leverage current business saturation and user familiarity, and ensure a stable, supportable and extendable platform well into the future. Microsoft CRM and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server provide the foundation platform and can support all the usual Microsoft Office products.”
“The status quo of existing within Outlook is extended by CRM to offer the tools necessary to support the new TEC negotiation-driven funding model. MOSS workspaces provide a new platform for working with documents, information and colleagues. An intuitive and common interface provides the structure for collaboration between TEC and tertiary providers for disseminating information, both within the organisation as an Intranet and outside the organisation with multiple workspaces, and for supporting complex business processes such as Ministerial Tracking – all while maintaining full histories of all documents.”
As New Zealand focuses on a growing knowledge economy, TEC has confirmed its readiness to provide consistent, transparent and timely business services to support its connectedness to New Zealand tertiary providers, businesses and communities.