Two years ago the Department of Conservation realised its IT infrastructure would fail the millennium test and its systems were growing haphazardly and becoming difficult to maintain.
It was time to overhaul the IT structure. Following rigorous tender process, Fujitsu NZ got the nod. key element in the decision was their partnering programme, says Channa Jayasinha, DOC’s IT manager. “We liked the Fujitsu concept of partnering they had used in large contracts with other organisations.”
First up, key staff from Fujitsu, and DOC took part in partnering workshop, to develop charter. Working on the charter first meant all partners had framework for their relationship; one which was flexible, and could be changed as circumstances change, says Jayasinha
The Department of Conservation is the government department charged with conserving the natural and historic heritage of New Zealand.
In addressing its IT systems, DOC’s goal was better management of its assets and support in the field.
It has around 1400 people in 140 sites around the country. Its officers work in locations as diverse as Stewart Island the Chathams, Great Barrier, Fox Glacier , Arthurs Pass or Waimakariri.
Whereas previously only 18 sites had connectivity, today 69 sites have full connectivity and 65 have dial up capability.
What this means says Jayasinha, is that “someone inspecting DOC asset in the field can collate the information and down load it into the national system where its immediately available to anyone on the system. Previously these reports were all paper based – now its far more efficient. “We also have preventative maintenance programme and this kind of reporting means engineers are alerted to areas that need maintenance straight away.”
The assets DOC manages fall into three categories:
1. Natural assets covering hundreds of species of plants, insects, animals, and forests As well as keeping tabs on the well being of our indigenous assets, DOC also keeps tabs on the pests.
2. Historical assets such as gold mines and buildings,
3. Visitor assets which include the marine reserves, conservation areas, huts, tracks, (and 900-odd toilets) around the country.
Essentially, Fujitsu now runs IT services for the Department of Conservation.
Before switching to outsourcing, the Department had central network group which was ?ad hoc’ support at best, says Jayasinha.
“IT skills varied considerably from person to person and there was no proper training for the staff to upskill themselves. Support was difficult because we had nearly 1200 unique pc’s rather than any standard. We had little control over what the network was being used for, and support costs were high.”
This led to proliferation of standalone databases, more than 1200.
“There might be 30 different possum management systems rather than one,” he adds.
Changing the culture was challenge, says Jayasinha. Staff were used to their particular desktop applications and we knew that the move to standard desktop was going to be difficult.
Fujitsu also set up help desk where DOC people anywhere in the country can phone 0800 number from any of 69 sites around the country. In fact, DOC staff have four ways of getting support: 0800 number, fax, email, and the department’s intranet which links the 140 sites.
Fujitsu did most of the upgrade with its own staff, but in its role as project manager it subcontracted with Datacraft for maintenance and support of the WAN, and Premises Communicatons for the LAN cabling and site environment. Training is being done by Computerland.
The next three years will see continuation of the attempt to fully network the organisation and deliver comprehensive intranet.