Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Successful SaaS deployment focuses on people not product

In a recent transformation initiative, Business Aspect worked closely with the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to develop and implement a change and communications strategy that enabled a successful uptake of its revised Financial Management Framework (FMF) across the entire organisation.

The FMF is a reference framework to enable effective control, measurement, analysis and reporting on the financial performance of DAFF’s service delivery. It provides a structure to review compliance with legislative obligations as per the Queensland Financial Accountability Framework, and service delivery and fiscal repair strategies as recommended by the Queensland Commission of Audit, Queensland Audit Office compliance and control measures. It also helps identify improvement opportunities to guide DAFF’s service renewal program of work (source: DAFF Annual Report 2013-14).

The FMF provides increased transparency of financial management and so aids planning and renewal activities as well as improved functionality to better inform strategic decision-making.  Adoption of the FMF is a key initiative undertaken by DAFF to realise the Queensland Government’s renewal agenda and business improvement processes.

Transition of the FMF into business-as-usual financial management activities involved the execution of a number of initiatives defined within the FMF Implementation Roadmap, including the development of a Change and Communications Strategy.

A key role of the Change and Communications Strategy was to guide the transition from the department’s previous BUS budget tool, in use for over 15 years, to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tool, Adaptive Insights (AIBT).

The implementation of the AIBT throughout the finance branches of DAFF and The Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business & Commonwealth Games (DTESB) occurred over an aggressive three month period in early 2014.  Despite the compressed timeframe, the Business Aspect Change & Communications team undertook extensive stakeholder consultation ensuring the needs of multiple groups were taken into consideration.

This was managed in parallel to meeting key Queensland Treasury & Trade (QTT) budget deadlines and a number of business-as-usual activities in the lead up to the busy end of financial year period.

The AIBT implementation was rolled out to stakeholders with varied levels of awareness and preparedness for change, having only ever experienced traditional budget processes in the context of the legacy BUS budget tool.

As a result, the Change & Communications Framework for the AIBT focussed on delivering a specific set of simple key messages that clearly outlined the change drivers, highlighted the long term benefits of the new tool, as well as improved FMF-aligned business processes. The communications and training activity always spoke from the perspective of primary stakeholder groups, encouraging the belief that despite the short-term challenges, it was with their needs in mind that the project was initiated and implemented.

The strategy, created - in consultation with DAFF - by Business Aspect, was designed to ensure key stakeholders developed a clear and early understanding of the benefits of the incoming software, were regularly engaged, had a clear means of providing feedback, and received the necessary training and support to adopt the new tool and business processes associated with it.

The result was a successful Queensland Government first of a cross-agency SaaS based budget management tool.

SaaS-based solutions represent a significant move away from traditional in-house development and management of ICT functionality towards a managed service. Numerous agencies across the Queensland Government are currently exploring this successful and innovative operating model.

Leading the way as the first government department to implement a change of this nature, DAFF and DTESB did more than implement a new budget tool; they established a new operating concept for the department as a whole when it comes to deployment of ICT-as-a-Service.