After a rapid introduction of new collaboration and productivity technology, VTAC sought to maximise their return on investment and to further bolster their collaboration and governance processes.
VTAC researched suitable providers that could assist, and Business Aspect, a wholly owned subsidiary within the Data#3 group, proved competitive and possessed a strong understanding of what was needed.
- Developed a clear and modern workplace strategy with a detailed roadmap
- Improved governance
- Improved value from investment in a Microsoft toolset
- Addressed the customer’s physical environment to better support hybrid working
The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) was originally formed by Monash University and Melbourne University as a central office to administer the application process for tertiary courses, scholarships, and a number of associated schemes. During the global pandemic, VTAC had rapidly rolled out collaboration technologies such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and Zoom to enable hybrid collaboration. As the organisation’s independence from Monash continued to grow, it was determined that there was a greater need for consistency and improved governance around the way such technologies should be used.
After any time of rapid, unexpected change, it is valuable to pause and take stock. This methodical approach had served VTAC Director for IT Services, Steve Hansen, well throughout his career. After navigating the rigours of pandemic-driven lockdowns and restrictions, he recognised the need to review how they were using key technologies.
In our organisation, everything had been within the Microsoft landscape, including Teams, SharePoint and so on. As Covid hit, everyone jumped into these toolsets and started using them without our usual governance and training, so our use was inconsistent. As a result, we knew we needed a clear roadmap outlining appropriate rules and governance across our Microsoft landscape,”Steve Hansen, Director of IT Services, Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre
While the immediate need to switch to a work from home model had prevented the usually consistent, planned approach of VTAC, it was a growing necessity to support the many students and tertiary organisations reliant on VTAC’s services. The needs of customers feeling the impact of wide-scale disruption had to take priority. Without consistent use of key collaboration tools, and with limited training, productivity was hampered. The staff who had embraced the technology as a means to better serve customers and the community during a time of crisis had become frustrated.
“The issue we ended up with was that there wasn’t the usual planning to make sure people were using the right technology the right way for the right purposes. There was the potential for security rules to be broken, people to share documents externally, and we wanted to make sure we weren’t increasing our security risk.”
“We wanted to look at things like classification of information and how to better manage that,” said Hansen.
While the ease of using the Microsoft suite for collaboration is among the technology’s greatest attributes, Hansen identified that it needed to come with consistency and access management rules that suited VTAC’s unique role.
A lot of people started to use the tools, and we started spawning Microsoft Teams sites without clarity over who owns them, what they are used for, who is governing access and who has access – a whole plethora of things fell into the project remit. It was clear we lacked sufficient clarity.”
Furthermore, major changes were underway at VTAC, which served to drive the need to work towards a more effective and consistent model even more. “We were in the process of demerging from Monash as a legal entity, and this was driving the project to a large degree. We needed to demonstrate that we were not carrying unnecessary risk,” outlined Hansen.
VTAC sought proposals from potential technology consulting partners, and after working together on previous projects, Business Aspect was top of the list.
“We knew where to go to get the help we needed, and that we could get it done right, and at a reasonable price. We got quotes and recommendations around the scope of the project, and it was Business Aspect who demonstrated the most capability and knowledge,” commented Hansen.
From the start, the engagement was a highly collaborative process. After preparation with Hansen’s team, in which Business Aspect confirmed objectives and reviewed materials, input was sought from stakeholders across the organisation.
We went through a process of understanding the landscape, where we interviewed individuals and small groups. Then, we ran a series of workshops in both smaller and wider groups where we were able to validate our findings and elaborate further.Steve Hansen, Director of IT Services, Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre
What we found in those workshops was that the process had a great output, it was received really well by the business, and gave us a great quality of insights.”
The findings from these group sessions were reviewed by specialist Business Aspect consultants, who then workshopped with several VTAC groups to determine the best path ahead. Business Aspect then presented a roadmap that detailed prioritised actions to be taken in order to standardise use of Microsoft tools and create robust governance of this environment in a modern workplace.
“Even in the workshops, we found that our teams felt they were being heard and that they were getting clarity around what they needed to do.
Our teams took a lot of what they learned from the program and applied it right away, which is a great outcome.”
Among early priorities was addressing the physical environment to better suit hybrid working, something that has “become the norm” for much of the VTAC workforce. This included equipping meeting rooms with technology to enable staff to join both in-person and online – whether in smaller groups or those large webinars – and get a more rewarding experience.
With the demerger looming large, Hansen said that it helped that the experienced Business Aspect team understood VTAC’s situation was flexible in the timing of activities, and was capable of leading the project. “They understood we had a lot going on and wrote the plan down into manageable chunks that we were able to work with in a very busy time. They staggered things so that we could ensure we had good foundations in place as the priority.”
While the project provided a roadmap to the training and governance needed as VTAC prepared for its demerger from Monash University, it went beyond that to design a modern workplace for its dedicated workforce. After working through a process Hansen described as “hugely helpful”, he said that the expert advice had paid dividends in unifying the way VTAC’s hybrid workforce uses key technologies.
If you want to adopt Microsoft technology toolsets for collaboration, knowledge management and communications, start with getting an expert to come in and help you to define what that’s going to look like. Discuss how you will use all the tools, what are your needs, and what collaboration and knowledge management issues you are solving.”
“You need to understand the problems and then how these tools can address them, rather than just jumping in. There may be a lot of preconceived ideas and it is about stripping these away and building a solid foundation.”Steve Hansen, Director of IT Services, Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre
As VTAC works through the actions outlined on the roadmap, Hansen said that progress has been helped by support and engagement throughout the organisation.
“Business Aspect presented the recommendations to the VTAC management team and people were receptive, absolutely. The feedback was that everything makes sense now and we know that will continue as we grow.”
“The highlight of this project was the engagement with the wider organisation; I knew we couldn’t just keep this within our IT team and working with Business Aspect was like having an extra pair of hands to help,” concluded Hansen.
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