The emergence of high-speed networks coupled with the proliferation of affordable customer devices continues to drive a preference towards digital channels for service delivery across society.
Finance is embracing digital transformation to better service its customers and as such has developed The Department of Finance Digital Strategy 2018-2022 (the Strategy).
The Strategy ultimately commits Finance to transitioning its services online with the aspiration of using digital channels to deliver 90 per cent of the most meaningful customer-facing transactions by 2022.
Finance conducts in excess of half-a-million customer-facing transactions a year across 190 different transaction types. With almost half of these transaction types performed digitally, Finance continued to take steps during 2018-19 to increase its volume of online transactions.
Moving towards its digital future will help Finance improve services to customers, achieve its strategic goals and deliver cost savings to the WA taxpayer.
Leadership in government’s digital transformation
Finance has taken a leadership role in the implementation of GovNext-ICT – a whole-of-government initiative to transition government from being an owner and operator of ICT infrastructure to a consumer of commercial computer, storage and network services.
This year, Finance not only assisted other government agencies in successfully implementing GovNext-ICT initiatives but also completed its own transition to cloud technology – a secure, reliable and scalable on-demand consumption based ICT service model.
As a result we were able to transition workloads from approximately 850 on premise servers to 330 virtual servers. This move enabled us to streamline staff processes, automate repetitive tasks such as power scheduling, and scale our resource needs to meet changing workloads and customer demands.
Importantly, Finance’s move to the cloud allows us to more rapidly adopt new technologies and platforms that will enable the transformation of services outlined in the Strategy.
The final Gateway Review of the transition noted: “A concerted effort was made throughout the program to be an exemplar for similar future processes initiated by other Government Agencies. In this sense Finance has paved the way for other agencies to move into the GovNext arrangements.”
Focus on business analytics
Finance was applauded this year for its data analytics capabilities and its use to underpin good policy development and better targeted service delivery.
Finance’s Government Procurement business unit manages 33 whole-of-government Common Use Arrangements (CUAs) through which approximately $1 billion of goods and services are purchased annually. Business intelligence tools are used to support public authorities in making better-value procurement decisions including extracting better value, identifying opportunities to reduce cost, and provide a source of open and transparent data. This information has also led to increased transparency and accountability across the sector.
The Office of the Auditor General, Victoria tabled a report on State Purchase Contracts (SPCs) (the equivalent to WA’s CUAs) on 20 September 2018 and identified Finance’s Business Intelligence Reports and dashboards as examples of good practice: “the Western Australian (WA) Department of Finance provides a better practice example of how a central procurement body can capture procurement data to analyse government spending patterns and help identify opportunities to establish SPCs.”
Business intelligence has been rapidly adopted across the organisation. We commenced with a small proof of concept, building capability among 50 staff who adopted the technology to visualise reports from the large number of separate data sources. Within the year, usage has increased to approximately 350 users who actively investigate and analyse data, and develop reports.
It is expected by enhancing data analytics and reporting it will lead to improved insight, accurate reporting on sector-wide buying behaviours, identification of aggregated buying opportunities across all goods and services, informed policy-making, and ultimately better procurement outcomes for the sector.
Transition to WA.gov.au
Finance recognises the importance of a unified and cohesive approach to online service delivery for customers within the State. We have committed to transitioning our online presence into the whole-of-government website – WA.gov.au – to set an example for others in the sector and to create the blueprint for change that can be shared and reused.
This year we worked directly with customers to better understand user-journeys, pain points and expectations so that information and services can be designed around customer needs and away from traditional agency-centric architectures. The approach to co-design helps to validate design choices inherent in WA.gov.au and introduce features and services that directly benefit customers including improving accessibility, increasing search ability and enabling access across a range of mobile friendly devices.
Finance is scheduled to transition to WA.gov.au at the start of the 2019-20 financial year.
New annual report templateFinance is also thinking innovatively in developing this annual report. We have purposely utilised the WA.gov.au style guide to create an HTML (online digital) version and accompanying PDF of our annual report, which can be repurposed in future years. The template can also be circulated across the public sector for use by other government agencies.
This highlights Finance’s leadership in trying to find innovative ways to improve government efficiency and generate further savings to the WA taxpayer.