Cloud at core of PSC digital transformation

Office 365, SharePoint and SAP Business ByDesign allow PSC employees to work ‘anywhere, any time’

Cloud services have been central to a transformation program at the Professional Standards Council that has seen the PSC move to an architecture that allows employees to work “anywhere, any time,” according to Carla Oliver.

Oliver is the head of business enablement at PSC, a government agency that supervises standards for professional associations.

The NSW-headquartered organisation is not a federal agency but has nationwide responsibilities and is given authority to conduct government business by each state and territory.

In addition to the staff in its head office in Sydney, it works with policy officers from government agencies and departments around Australia.

A digital transformation program kicked off in September 2014 with a contract win by IT services company Artis Group, with work continuing through to February this year (in April last year Artis officially became the PSC’s IT services and support partner).

The program has seen the implementation of Office 365, SharePoint and an ERP system based on SAP’s subscription-based Business ByDesign offering (which runs on SAP HANA).

Opting for a cloud-based ERP system saved PSC around 43 per cent in potential costs, according to Oliver, and offered the benefits of easy off-site access and scalability.

“We really didn’t want to have to invest in heavy networking requirements and on-premise cost-ins, so to do it off-premise through the cloud solution enabled us to put this piece of software in in quite rapid time — and the cost savings on it were attractive to say the least,” she said.

Data is stored on-shore, Oliver said.

The transformation program began when PSC sat within the NSW Department of Justice and it benefited significantly from the support of DOJ CIO Aaron Liu, Oliver said.

The CIO was a “huge supporter” of the program based on her business case and he sponsored a pilot and gave her the resources to pass government tests for moving to a cloud solution.

Part of the impetus for the transformation program was DOJ would not be able to deliver the tailored response required by the PSC’s niche, multi-jurisdictional business requirements, so the decision was made for the organisation to “go it alone,” Oliver said. (The PSC now sits under the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation.)

The initial SAP implementation work took place between February April last year.

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“ByDesign has the ability to implement in modules, which allowed us to get results quickly and affordably and I think that was probably a key success factor,” Oliver said.

The initial tranche of the phased ERP rollout began with accounts payable, then accounts receivable, followed by reporting and analytics.

“We were able to roll it out in pretty much record time,” Oliver said.

“Before we had a culture where it was only ‘finance that did finance’ but I think with SAP ByDesign that siloed approach no longer exists, in that everyone is owning the finance function — it’s very hands-on for all parts of our business,” she added.

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The ERP system has proved user friendly but still customisable, she said, citing in particular the ability to tailor access rights to people’s roles.

“You can build in the software what that person’s job really is about without it being all regimented into ‘this is what the accounts payable officer can do’ or ‘this is what the accounts receivable can do and this is what the line manager can do.’”

“We’ve been able to choose the access rights and make the software very tailored to a person’s job and the self-service capability is pretty advanced,” Oliver said.

“That’s been very useful for in being able to remove silos. We have the software at the fingertips of those that need it and the whole story of the transactions in there.”

The combination of ByDesign, Office 365 (including Skype for Business) and SharePoint and the integration between the three systems offers PSC employees the ability to connect “with all documents and all people,” Oliver said.

“You can literally work from anywhere in the country, any time of day or night”

“It might be taken for granted now that you don’t have to be in the office to run the office, but before we put this architecture in that was exactly the case,” Oliver said.

Previously staff considered the ERP as “something for finance,” she said.

Now it's seen as a “useful central repository for communicating with other parts of the business.”

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