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The Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) supports the ministerial portfolios of the Premier, Deputy Premier, Ministers, Aboriginal Affairs, Industrial Relations, and the Cabinet.

Client

Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet

Services

Power Automate, Power Platform, SharePoint Online

Industry

Government

Country

Australia

Context

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.

The challenge

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.

The solution

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.

Demo of ABC on desktop and mobile

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:

  • Communications from multiple tracking systems being together in one central location
  • A transparent and consistent process for briefings to be created, tracked, managed, and approved through an interactive and personal dashboard in a central location
  • Users to easily create and share reports, manage workflows, and manage their own security model across different product types, meaning records can have the appropriate levels of access with control given back to departments to determine and update access where required

Intranet Diagram for ABC

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.

“Out of 20 years working in the UX space and working with developers and different teams, Engage Squared is one of the first to properly work agile and I am really enjoying it. I have a lot of confidence in Engage Squared as a team.”
Sophie Turner, Lead Service Designer, DPC

The results

 

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:

  • Allowed flexibility to those using it with accessibility from anywhere, anytime and from any device
  • Reduced manual handling of paper documents which significantly reduced their carbon footprint
  • Standardised ways of working throughout the department and across agencies
  • Simplified reporting and auditing on records with personal views, prioritised lists, and easy exporting options
  • Centralised access to critical information – improving accessibility, usability equitable use for staff working remotely

The impact

At a glance:

  • Solution currently being used by 1,250 employees
  • 2,000+ briefs successfully passed through the solution
  • Number of steps in the briefing process cut from 51 to 20
  • Printing costs down 96%, largely thanks to the ABC solution
  • DPC reducing their carbon footprint
“ABC will transform how we manage and collaborate on briefs and correspondence, as well as parliamentary questions at DPC. It will provide many benefits for staff, including more flexibility, design for employees by employees, promotes collaboration, faster and easier, simpler, and digital by default.”
Chair of the Victorian Premier’s Design Awards Jury, Celina Clarke

Read more about the technology Vic. DPC used to create this solution

SharePoint Online
Microsoft SharePoint Online is a cloud-based services that empowers organisations to build websites, as well as securely store, access, manage and share information. It provides a rich collaboration environment where people inside and outside your organisation can work together, co-authoring documents on any device.
Power Automate
Microsoft Power Automate is a service that helps you streamline tasks by creating automated workflows between apps and services to synchronise files, get notifications, collect data, and more. It uses low-code, drag-and-drop tools and hundreds of pre-built connectors that automate repetitive, mundane tasks with ease.
Power Apps
Microsoft Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, and connectors, as well as a data platform, that enables you to build custom apps to suit your needs. Power Apps is a rapid development environment where the professional-grade apps and connectors are low-code so you can build and launch quickly and make improvements as you go.