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Ministry of Education Intranet

Ministry of Education Intranet built in the Common Web Platform.

Ministry of Education Intranet ()

Dec, 2015

The Ministry of Education is a New Zealand Government agency acting as the lead advisor on the education system, shaping direction for education agencies and providers and contributing to the Government’s goals for education. The agency was one of the early adopters of the Common Web Platform (CWP) - a Platform as a Service for New Zealand government sites. The platform is managed by the Department of Internal Affairs, with SilverStripe delivering services and website content management software and Revera providing its infrastructure. The Ministry had been using CWP for over a year on smaller websites - the most recent and larger being the rebuild of the website. During this time they built strong knowledge and development capability in the use of CWP. 

The challenge
The Web Services team were engaged by the Shared Services area to help design a system to capture, manage and facilitate internal workload, so they could have better transparency of their work programme and also improve the way they delivered their services to the wider Ministry. As the agency had used CWP for their externally facing websites, they wanted to use the same platform for their internally facing Intranet, to leverage the capability they had already built within their team. It seemed a natural fit to offer CWP as part of this solution.

The agency was the first to use CWP as a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Like all things new, there were some challenges but through perseverance and collaboration between CWP, Revera and the Ministry, all risks and concerns were managed and a successful CWP VPN was delivered. Security was considered extremely important in the development process. Independent penetration testing was commissioned and completed; all risks and issues identified were resolved. 

The solution
After using CWP for over a year, the Ministry was confident it could provide the front end entry point to the work management system. The SilverStripe open source theming layer was very flexible and would allow the Ministry to create a simple elegant user-centric interface that made the requesting of services simple and easy for end users.

They decided to couple CWP with the Atlassian JIRA Service desk tool, which would provide form, capture and workflow management that was only visible to Shared Services staff and transparent to end users who only see the self service CWP front end. The team created some custom CWP modules including Event Calendar functionality and used the CWP forms module to deliver some vendor facing online forms. The loose integration or coupling of CWP with Atlassian was the making of this solution as Atlassian already provided workflow and issue tracking management. CWP delivered a simple front end entry point to these services, which simplified the engagement of end users.

This system is now being spread through other business areas and delivering self-service functionality kiosk for staff to engage in each area’s service catalogs. By the end of 2015, the majority of the Corporate areas will have this system rolled out and others will be looked at in 2016.

Since CWP used the SilverStripe open source software, it helped the Ministry build the hub more cost-effectively. The Ministry’s development team had already built strong CWP capability and were able to leverage their knowledge, resulting in the project completed more efficiently. “CWP is scalable, easy-to-use and cost-effective”, said Jason Bell, Web Services Manager, Ministry of Education. “CWP is great! It has helped us build a VPN at minimal costs in a very quick timeframe - just 3 months. By coupling CWP with the Atlassian suite of tools, we have managed to utilise each system’s strengths to meet our customer needs.” 

The results
Now staff at the Ministry have a simple interface to request services from the Shared Services area. Shared Services have a better understanding of their overall workload, providing much needed transparency to assist with resource allocation. An example is the way transport is managed, which has gone from being spread through 200 staff job roles to a specialist team of 8 who use the hub as their primary work tool.

Part of the Ministry’s responsibility is to make decisions on whether to fund certain projects for internal customers (the Ministry’s business units) and external customers (other agencies across the education sector). They are now able to meet customers’ demand for concrete decisions on funding certain projects because through the hub, it is clear where and when their resources are allocated.

Making use of the simple, easy-to-use interface and flexible theming layer of the CWP system, coupling this with the form, capture and workflow management of JIRA Service Desk, the Ministry of Education was able to build and deliver a simple- to-use and extendable system in a cost effective and timely manner. 

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