Automating briefs and correspondence is as easy as ‘ABC’ for the Victorian
Department of Premier and Cabinet
Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet
Power Automate, Power Platform, SharePoint Online
Each year in Victoria upwards of 7,000 briefings and 15,000 correspondence matters, ranging from critical situations to new budget initiatives and changes to legislation, are created and managed across the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet. These briefs and correspondence are sent directly to the Premier’s and other Ministers’ offices for review and endorsement.
Introducing modern technology within government has always been a challenge. When the world came to a halt due to Covid-19, the need to introduce more accessible, equitable and modern ways of working quickly became mission critical as public servants worked round-the-clock to support the wider community.
The department’s matters were previously managed in person, through a time intensive, paper-based briefing system, which lacked the required transparency to manage and report on briefing statuses and negatively impacted the environment.
With urgent briefs and correspondence, including Covid-19 specific matters, crucial to be approved and heard in a timely manner, it was critical for Victorians that this briefing system was upgraded to a modern digital platform.
Through our respected reputation with other government departments and our deep technical expertise within Microsoft technologies, Engage Squared was fortunate to be chosen through a tender process to develop an end-to-end digital workflow solution to manage departmental briefing, correspondence, and parliamentary records.
For this engagement, our UX team served a consultative role as the department came prepared and well-equipped with their own dedicated project team, which drove initial requirement gathering, user experience pathways, and visual design. We integrated with this team to maximise the department’s investment by guiding and aligning requirements to practical implementations. Hence, we were able to efficiently produce technical designs and specifications to deliver on the high quality and complexity of expectations, while managing costs and timelines.
The solution we architected and built was a digital briefing management platform, known as the Automated Briefing and Correspondence (ABC) system.
ABC is an Azure-hosted web application built on top of Microsoft 365, utilising the powerful document management capabilities in SharePoint Online and Azure Active Directory (AAD) security controls. ABC was built to allow:
With members of the department familiar with Microsoft Teams, ABC has also been built as an integrated Teams app, accessible by all users in the department, to encourage adoption of the tool. For the very first time, users within the department are now able to keep track and manage their day-to-day communications and tasks from Teams, with collaboration being at an all-time high.
Utilising AAD and AAD B2B, ABC can also be accessed from smart phones, iPad’s, laptops, and home computers by users that are internal to the department, as well as trusted guests. Data security is further enabled via the integration of Microsoft Information Protection labels.
Since its launch in November 2021, ABC has been rolled out to 1,250 employees with 2000+ briefs successfully passed through the solution. The department has significantly increased the speed and efficiency of managing briefs and correspondence, cutting the number of steps in the briefing process from 51 to 20 and for the first time allowing the automation of time intensive manual tasks.
The department is also achieving its wider goal to reduce their carbon footprint. Whilst not all printing savings can be attributed to ABC, a substantial portion is, with printing costs down 96% in February 2022 when compared to the previous year.
ABC was also awarded the ‘Service Design’ award at the Victorian Premier’s Design Awards in March 2022. The solution was praised for the flexibility it now provides for employees, as well transforming how the department can manage the thousands of matters each year.
Other benefits of ABC include:
At a glance: