​The government ministry with a sole ICT staff member

​The government ministry with a sole ICT staff member

Paul Setefano of the Ministry of Pacific Peoples talks about running a very lean ICT team in the heart of Wellington.

For sole ICT staff member Paul Setefano, information systems transformation and innovation at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) is driven mainly around working with technology partners, aligning with All of Government common capability/aaS products and the move to the cloud.

“Business creativity needed further investment in technology,” Setefano says. “Rather than go through the expense and tension of updating our technology, I led an approach which focused on Services rather than Servers. Subscribing instead of Owning.

“This has changed the way we think about the things we need, by removing the constraints of a traditional technology stack.

“From this we have realised two key outcomes,” he says.

“First was the ability to really focus on delivering true value by being able to sign-up to the best product from the most cost effective provider.

The second was reduction of the major risks and costs associated with supporting and maintaining an onsite infrastructure.”

Within a short space of time the MPP has aligned to the following AoG (All of Government) common capability/aaS products; IaaS, OPaaS, ECMaaS, PTaaS and TaaS.

“This internal delivery phase is largely about stabilising our base of operations, which is vital before we look at ways we can use innovations to better integrate with our Pacific communities,” he says.

Operationally, Setefano says it should have been an easy transition, being such a small Ministry with no bespoke apps or solutions. “Unfortunately, what we had was over-engineered for the job it was doing,” he states.

“Sixteen servers for an organisation of under 50 staff did not make sense. The business agreed that this was a critical risk and a barrier to forward movement.

“With our technology partner ITNZ, we initiated a consolidation programme that reduced our server footprint by 80 per cent with no business impact or service degradation.

“The next phase was migrating the remaining servers into AoG IaaS cloud. This critical milestone meant that we had outsourced the management of our technology risks to an industry leader.”

Structurally he realised the costs associated with the function were not sustainable for the ministry size so his goal was to produce a road map to improve services and reduce costs.

“I am close to realising this goal through a measured and growing overlap of my support functions with our technology partner. To support this initiative, the environment has become more stable and predictable improving the overall user experience.”

Culturally he believes the structural shift will place a lot of emphasis on the ministry’s technology partners to lift their relationship management and service delivery games.

“It will take time to build the trust between staff with support vendors once the umbilical cord to the SDM/Internal Helpdesk is severed. For the trust relationship to cement, vendors will need to back-up their off the shelf, pre-sales pitch around getting to know our core business,” he says.

The ECMaaS program has greatly improved the way the ministry manages its information. The organisation has gone from an expansive and largely unchecked shared drives arrangement, to a system with automated workflows to manage document storage, versioning, naming conventions, search and reporting,” he says.

“Our office mobility innovation has enabled our community facing staff the ability to embed themselves in other agencies as well as schools, universities, community halls and churches, and be able to work totally independent of the office. Prior to this, they were reduced to recording and writing notes, which they then had to document upon a return-to-base.”

In terms of innovation in the past 12 months, MPP has upgraded SAP Business One to SAP 9.2 and moved from Exchange 2010 to OPaaS delivering archiving, scalability and future-proofing.

As well, the onsite servers have moved to IaaS providing resilience and recoverability, Shared Folders have migrated to ECMaaS, giving improved collaboration and compliance and there was an upgrade to video conferencing to support both H.232 and SIP.

“The delivery of our current innovations are internally focused and the result of close relationships with the business to articulate or dissect a business challenge,” Setefano says. “Our property strategy as a small ministry is about being adaptable and flexible enough to take advantage of shared agency spaces.”

“We share space in the Christchurch CIGA building hosted by Statistics NZ and the Auckland Policy office hosted by CASS. We also have a shared space in Lower Hutt with Te Puni Kokiri. Each of those locations has different ways they share common services, so our solution had to be both secure but also agile.”

He says they have an “open door” approach when it comes to shadow IT.

“If you identify something that you think will help you do your job better, talk to me,” he says. “I will assess it primarily to ensure it doesn’t break anything else and then we’ll learn more about the application and how you intend to use it.

“This includes the types of information we are allowed and restricted from placing in various domains. If you have a business problem and we can’t find a solution, let’s partner up with someone who will build us a solution.”

He says one of the many benefits of the 'as a service' adoption approach, has been in allowing him more time and space to devote to delivering value-add to the ministry.

“As the sole ICT resource I was spread very thinly, so I had to quickly form partners to off-load the things that needed industry experts to manage.

“Effectively, I made the operations, hosting and maintenance someone else’s problem through the adoption of key DIA AoG aaS products.

Read more: The government CIO agenda: Flip from ‘legacy first’ to ‘digital first’

“This gave me more time to commit to the value-add tools and apps, in particular the innovation in our Information Management solution.

“Focusing on reducing our risk profile and associated management overhead, I have made the domain of vital system maintenance activities the responsibility of industry experts to manage on my behalf.

“This has left me more space to focus on quality service delivery, continuous improvement and operational excellence. What we have bought is peace of mind.”

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