Changes to how government does business is one of the key outcomes of the transformation to a digital government.
End-user Brian Westbrook discusses the learning curve associated with governance of the ICT-enabled projects supporting this transformation, and the benefits of the Mia-facilitated ICT Governance Education Program offered to streamline project delivery.
Brian Westbrook is no stranger to governance boards. In his current role, as Deputy Director Contracts and Operational Support for the Working with Children Unit within the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation (DJR), he has participated on six different boards in two years. For many years prior to that, he has both reported to boards in a project management capacity and participated on boards representing the business end-user.
Even so, given the rising number of ICT-enabled projects in his purview, Mr Westbrook immediately recognised the potential benefits of participating in the Victorian Government’s ICT Governance Education Program when it was first introduced in 2015. Facilitated by Mia, the program aims to improve ICT project delivery across the whole of the Victorian public sector.
“As someone who represents the business end-user, I wanted to understand more about what makes an ICT-enabled project different, and what that means in practice,” Mr Westbrook says.
“The course certainly gave me a much broader perspective – in particular, that since ICT-enabled projects typically involve a major change to business processes, both the technology and the business requirements need to be taken into account and understood by the corresponding governance board.”
Define board structure and roles
The ICT Governance Education Program involves a mix of theory and role-playing scenarios, all focused on governance and the role of governance boards in providing an independent and accountable oversight of ICT project delivery. A key part of this is looking at the structure and personnel selection of the governance boards.
“Since completing the program, I’ve used the materials quite a bit to change how governance boards operate for ICT-enabled projects I’m involved with,” Mr Westbrook says. “We now make sure we clearly define the structure of the board and the roles of each board member. This enables us to ensure that those who are appointed have the right background and experience required for the project.”
Mr Westbrook says the ICT Governance Education Program has already proven useful for his involvement in a recent project to digitise the ‘Working with Children Check’ application process. A collaboration between DJR and Australia Post, the project involved a complete change in process for identifying and applying for the Check. Instead of applicants downloading and filling out forms manually, then presenting identification in person at Australia Post outlets, the new process is online and paperless, and allows for electronic verification of identity.
Integrate technology with business functionality
This type of ‘manual to digital’ business change is happening across Victoria’s entire public sector as part of the transformation to a digital government. Such ICT-enabled projects have specific governance requirements, where the technology aspects need to be integrated with the end-user functional requirements.
“This program certainly improved my understanding of the differences to expect from ICT Governance Boards and how to act in that environment,” Mr Westbrook says. “The workshops attracted participants with a good mix of experience and backgrounds, and presented a range of useful example scenarios to work through.”
Background – ICT Governance Education Program
In recognition of the learning curve associated with the digital transformation underway across the entire Victorian public sector, an investigation into government ICT-enabled projects was conducted by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) a couple of years ago. This led to the implementation of an ICT Governance Education Program in 2015 to improve ICT project delivery across the whole of the Victorian Government.
Sponsored by the Enterprise Solutions Branch within the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), the ICT Governance Education Program is designed to strengthen capabilities within the Victorian Public Service in line with the Victorian Government Information Technology Strategy 2016-2020. The core of the program is a two-day workshop, facilitated by Mia, encompassing development of business cases, definition of roles and responsibilities, project management, ICT governance and critical decision-making.
The ICT Governance Education Program is designed for public sector personnel at various senior or executive levels, particularly those sitting on steering committees and governance boards for ICT-enabled projects – spanning project sponsors, end-users, program directors, information officers and other stakeholders.
Interested government participants should send an email to EnterpriseSolutions@dpc.vic.gov.au.