A case study

Since its inception in 2019, the DTA has supported several agencies to use the blueprint. The following case study outlines what a successful implementation of the Protected Utility blueprint looks like in an agency. We have also created a shareable PDF version.

Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (OCO)

The Commonwealth Ombudsman (OCO) is responsible for upholding the highest service standards on behalf of the Australian public. As such, it is imperative that all internal processes and systems within the OCO are robust, secure and accurate. So when the need for flexible ways of working was accelerated by COVID-19 safety changes, the OCO reached out to the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to understand its options for the transition to a cloud productivity platform and Modern Workplace based on the Protected Utility blueprint. 

Change management approach

A focus on two benefits: This project was designed to improve mobility and productivity across the OCO. To increase the mobility of its workforce, the OCO planned to roll out new Dell laptops built with Microsoft 365 (M365) and a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to replace Citrix XenDesktop, as well as decommission desktop devices and on-premise installations of Microsoft Office products. To support productivity, OCO was also looking to identify opportunities to use M365 and other processes to enhance the Ombudsman’s day-to-day productivity.

The change context: The OCO approved a business case for the Mobility and Productivity Program to be rolled out to the Ombudsman’s ~300 staff across Australia. While the OCO did not have any complex needs, there were COVID-19 restrictions that affected travel in Australia during the Program and licencing retirement timelines to consider. In line with these timeframes, the Mobility and Productivity Program ran for 3 months, including a two and a half week pilot.

Building the change team: The OCO employed a dedicated Change Manager with project management experience to drive the transition. A vendor was brought on board to help with the licencing through a competitive marketplace process in line with an approved business case and Commonwealth government requirements. The internal IT team were also responsible for managing the technology change associated with implementing M365 in the Ombudsman’s environment.

Planning the change: The Change Manager worked with the business, the Senior Leadership Group (SLG) and the DTA to identify key components for the change process:

  1. Internal approval of change champions tasked with spreading the word about the business change, advocating for the change and supporting staff in the transition.
  2. Briefing the change champions with key messages and creating material for directing agency staff to technical support.
  3. Adding how-to tips and tricks produced by Microsoft and available on the internet to the OCO’s Learning Management System (LearnHub).
  4. Establishing channels to enable regular, honest and ongoing feedback from change champions and agency staff.

Implementation of change management approach

The technology implementation: The Mobility and Productivity Program involved the decommission of licensing arrangements with Citrix, the removal of desktop devices, the rollout of VPNs and laptops, and the installation of the M365 productivity suite including MS Office, Teams (Planner and Whiteboard), SharePoint and OneDrive. The Program also included Dell laptop procurement, the rollout of WiFi in various offices and product licensing.

The pilot process: Upon being identified as change champions for the Mobility and Productivity Program, the change champions participated in an education process to bring them up to speed about the change. This included workshops to help change champions to understand their role in the change, what M365 is, what the new laptops would do, how to use the OCO’s Learning Management System (LearnHub) and provide honest feedback. In addition, there were daily stand-ups with the internal IT team to help them to support the change champions and solve roll out challenges. The change champions also received communications guidance for engaging with staff. 

The roll out to all staff: Following the pilot, the Program was assessed and the plan for the rollout was endorsed. The OCO communicated with staff at different levels within each branch and section to reach staff who were affected by the change. The OCO shared training and support materials via its Learning Management System, which was available to support staff to understand what the new technology could do and how they could use it. The OCO also set up a help centre style concierge service so staff could receive one-to-one support when they logged in to the new system for the first time.

Successful change outcomes

Key outcomes: The IT team, the external provider and the users worked iteratively to identify issues as they occurred and there were relatively few problems as the program rolled out to staff. Staff were able to stay focused on delivering business outcomes with very little disruption, as the change was managed in outage windows overnight and on the weekend. While uptake in relation to productivity has been slow, it is anticipated that this will increase into the future. 

Key lessons learned

Key lessons learned from the OCO’s Mobility and Productivity Program:

  • It is important to get the build right and run a pilot program before the change is rolled out across the agency.
  • The change champions were a critical success factor in advocating for and communicating about the adoption of the new ways of working.
  • While staff were aware that the change was coming, communication was required to clarify that M365 is not just an updated version of existing Microsoft software (i.e. Microsoft Word and Outlook).
  • A critical success factor was providing messaging that invited the business owner of the Program to choose when they implemented the change, rather than a mandate.
  • Ongoing change resources and Whole of Government training materials are really helpful to support staff with using the new technology, including OneDrive.

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