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For our first release (Stage 1), we ran a fairly standard Early life support process. The focus was primarily on technical and process support for our people and customers. Early life support ran for 3 months with a 3-week period of enhanced support, called hyper care.

The process worked, but as this was the first time our customers and our people were using the system, the impact on both was high. As a result, for release 2, we made significant changes to the preparation of, and engagement with our customers pre go-live and provided more comprehensive support for our people and customers post go-live.

Pou Whirinaki

For Release 3, which impacted every New Zealand taxpayer and business as we introduced the automatic individual income tax assessment process for the first time and when payday filing became mandatory for all business, we took a very different approach.

Early life support became just one strand of a support model called Pou Whirinaki (Support you can rely on).

The team was led by the Deputy Commissioner for Integrity and Assurance and the team was made up of programme and business people working together to actively identify and mitigate risks, ensure effective issues resolution, monitor progress through enhanced reporting and coordinate communications, both within the business and out to our customers.

The areas of focus expanded to include:

  • Customers
  • Our people
  • Stakeholders
  • Operations
  • Technology
  • Hypercare/Solution stabilisations.

We improved communications into the organisation and out to customers, letting them know what issues were being managed and where possible, the likely resolution date. This significantly reduced customer contacts and was continued and refined through later releases.

What we learned for future releases

We continued to use this model and incorporated lessons learnt into subsequent release support periods.

Lessons learned from Release 4

The Pou Whirinaki support approach proved effective for managing the support phase of BT Release 4 and ensuring alignment and co-ordination with day-to-day business operations, the introduction and support of new COVID initiatives, the auto-calculation process (individual income tax assessment), peak season and the added complexity of working remotely. Key features which underpinned this were:

  • Clear roles and responsibilities within the support processes, and agreed governance and coordination forums which included all key stakeholders.
  • Leverage of ServiceNow (our support portal), Power BI (a business intelligence tool) and TEAMS (meetings software) as key collaboration tools, enablers of support processes and single sources of truth for information.
  • Time to plan for the support period and adapt the support approaches to the unique needs of the release, and reinstate the support capabilities from the previous release (Release 3).

This enabled a transparent, single source of truth for the current status of the business, customers and the release, to all stakeholders and governance forums to ensure plans remained appropriate and support responses were also appropriate.

Last updated: 19 May 2022
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