Sustainability Victoria has won the e-government award for its procurement and contract management system, SV Enabled known as SVEN.
SV’s Manager of Legal & Governance Kara Miller recently told us about the benefits of this system for the SV business.
From your point of view, being responsible for the organisation’s legal and procurement functions, what are the benefits?
Before SVEN, our procurement and contracting processes were paper based, requiring multiple memos, forms and templates to be completed and signed off. From procurement to contract this required a minimum of 24 physical signatures on different documents. SVEN has transformed this into a single electronic process where approvals are provided within the system, only requiring a physical signature on the final contract. Not only has this improved efficiency, as there is no requirement for documents to physically move around the office, but transparency and compliance has improved as the system provides a full audit of all changes and approvals within the workflow and business rules are enforced.
We now have a system that contains accurate and reliable data enabling accurate decision making by the organisation and auditable records of all aspects of the transactions.
There is a single source of truth for all our data about contracts, grants and procurement as well as all the stakeholders involved in those processes. Previously there were 20 disparate systems containing essential stakeholder data – this led to duplication of effort, overheads in managing the data and inefficiencies in customer service. We now have greater visibility of transactions and ability to analyse business activities.
Did any legal issues arise on this project?
This is SV’s largest software development project and the first using an Agile Scrum methodology so a different sort of contract was required to reflect this approach. This was new ground for all of us – the Agile approach is strongly collaborative and iterative so a traditional contractual arrangement involving defined responsibilities and liabilities was not appropriate. It was a real challenge for us as lawyers to produce a document that reflected this approach but still discharged our responsibility to ensure SV’s best interests.
However, having managed to get through the hurdle of the contract negotiations, the Agile methodology allowed SV to rapidly iterate through numerous evolutions of its business processes and methods, producing an outcome that fitted well with the organisation and which would have been impossible to match using traditional waterfall methodologies. The culture of an Agile project is quite different to how SV has previously thought about projects. This required learning and adapting to a new methodology by all SV staff involved.
SV has recently adopted a Cloud First principle, and SV Enabled was the first significant project following this adoption. This meant a number of assessments, consultations and approvals had to be undertaken to ensure SV was satisfied that data was adequately protected and secured when stored within a cloud system.
Are there any environmental benefits of the system?
The transformation of the business processes as well as the usage of cloud has resulted in environmental benefits – this is an important outcome as SV aspires to lead by example. With the streamlined business processes, the amount of paper produced by internal processes is much reduced. A procurement can now be undertaken from initial proposal, through evaluation, assessment and finally contract negotiation without the need to print a single document. The only requirement for paper use in the process is when a contract is sent to the stakeholder for execution.
The use of cloud has also meant that SV did not need to procure any new supporting physical infrastructure, with the associated use of energy and cooling. Whilst SV has attempted to reduce the cooling requirements and power consumption of its traditional infrastructure, its ability to significantly impact these is minimal compared to that of a commercial cloud provider. Once SV fully retires its physical infrastructure, it will be able to achieve a higher National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) star rating for the environmental performance of the office, which is very exciting for us, and a major incentive for this work.
How does SVEN help with SV’s stakeholder and community engagement activities?
Our community consultations, education and awareness campaigns include distributing information via email, engaging on social media, hosting events and promotional campaigns. Before the implementation of SV Enabled, the organisation had no unified approach to managing and delivering these. Each campaign was undertaken individually and there were minimal opportunities to understand how stakeholders interacted with the campaigns. There is now a platform that allows SV to share knowledge and capture information about stakeholders who have engaged with the campaigns and with SV through contracts and procurement, segment stakeholders into key areas of interest and target materials for them appropriately. SV Enabled delivered a single streamlined process for campaigns and events that can now be used widely across the organisation.
What technology is involved?
In what is understood to be a first in Australia, SV Enabled has integrated SV’s cloud based CRM (Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online) with SV’s existing Document & Records Management System (SharePoint 2013 installed on premise). This feature allows SV staff to maintain a single instance of documents across both systems whilst also complying with Victorian Records Management requirements.
The system seamlessly integrates with SV’s existing systems such as finance, document management, telephony and email.
The use of cloud has produced benefits in scalability, reliability and measurability in excess of SV’s traditional environments.
If you want to know more about the technology, you can view this video with Chris Moon, SV’s Information Systems Business Manager.
What’s next for SV Enabled?
We have some additional elements (including grants) that didn’t get implemented during the development of SV Enabled due to budgetary restrictions. We hope to be able to extend Sven in future to cover these elements and have had some discussions with other Victorian government agencies about collaborating on developing something that suits both parties. We would be really excited to see Sven helping other organisations!
Image by Kara Miller.