The Programme Management Office (PMO) was the engine room of the programme and responsible for the management of 7 principal areas:
When Cabinet agreed to invest in transformation in November 2015, it noted that delivery would be achieved in 4 overlapping stages across a 5-year period, completing delivery in 2021. These stages were:
- Stage 1: Enabling secure digital services 2016-2017.
- Stage 2: Streamline income and business tax processes from 2017 to 2019.
- Stage 3: Streamline social policy delivery from 2018 to 2020.
- Stage 4: Complete delivery of the future revenue system from 2019 to 2021.
The roadmap showed simply and clearly what we would deliver and when. It was also customer and stakeholder-centred. We recognised the need to manage change carefully, and not to overload different customer groups with change all at once.
Initially, we had thought there would be on and off ramps in the roadmap, presenting a series of investment decisions over the life of the programme. It became apparent, however, that the transition to new systems and processes must be completed once started. Therefore, the major investment decision had to be taken right at the beginning of the programme.
We implemented a lot of policy change during transformation and were able to manage this and fit it into the delivery cycle. Having a clear roadmap and ensuring it was highly visible helped to highlight the most opportune times for making policy changes.
The programme roadmap
This early roadmap set out GST as the starting point for the programme and the overall phasing. However, the stages were broad enough for us to adjust our approach when needed.
Following the successful implementation of Stage 1 (moving GST into the new administration system START), we determined that taking a release-based approach for Stages 2 and 3 would ensure that implementation of the new tax and social policy changes were:
- logically sequenced,
- grouped to enable efficient use of resources, and
- delivered so as not to overload our people and different customer groups with change all at once.
This release approach enabled the programme to deliver the Tax on Income products (Release 2: 2017 to 2018 and Release 3: 2018 to 2019) and at the same time deploy Working for Families, the first social policy product. This was followed by Release 4 for KiwiSaver and student loans from 2019 to 2020. As a result of the pandemic in 2020, Inland Revenue used its new functionality to deliver the government’s response to COVID-19 for businesses, Stage 4, (moving the final social policy products into our new system and the first upgrade of that system (START), was delivered in two releases in 2021.
Programme delivery plan
Delivery of the future state design required balanced consideration of the impact on our people and customers, delivery risk, technology, integration complexity and policy.
The Programme delivery plan document defined the scope of what future state outcomes would be delivered within each release of the programme and was aligned to the financial plan. This allowed us to manage scope, schedule resources and risks while understanding both internal and external communications requirements.
The programme delivery plan was a point in time view that was reviewed and updated throughout the life of the programme in line with technology choices, delivery achievements and any change to scope.
The Programme Management Office used this point in time view to baseline each stage and release. Detailed schedules were created for each workstream and project under the release. This enabled the Programme Management Office to track progress or ‘earned value’ in a standard way across the programme. The planning standards we applied remained the same whatever method was used to deliver the agreed scope or outcomes and were called out in several external audits as an exemplar.
While the programme had a multi-year appropriation, considerable time was spent before the commencement of each stage and release to ensure that the investment was appropriate for the scope, deliverables and the contribution to the end state outcomes. This was done through a baseline process.
At high-level, guiderails were developed to ensure that investment was balanced across each part of the programme to achieve the agreed scope and outcomes. This set off a detailed planning process which included resource and financial planning. On completion this was tested against the high-level guiderails.
Tracking against the baseline
Once the allocation of funding was agreed, scope confirmed and plans baselined, the programme change process kicked in. This ensured any movement from the approved baseline was formally considered and approved. The baseline was tracked in detail and underpinned status reporting right across the programme. Over the course of the programme there were several baselines, with each one running for approximately 12 months.
At a programme level, an out-year process (looking at the financial year ahead) ensured that the programme had enough funding at the end of each period to complete the whole programme of work. Careful and considered management of the programme contingency was important and this was done on a risk basis. The monthly finance meeting also considered financial risks and impacts so that any risk to funding was highly visible.
The Programme Management Office managed the collation of reports across the programme for each workstream and programme area.
Key reports and deliverable in this area included:
The 10 keys
This provided transparency to all stakeholders on the programme’s health and performance. Insights and inputs allowed us to adjust plans and behaviours as we went. The 10 keys covered:
- Stakeholder engagement.
- Delivery partners.
Red, Amber, Green (RAG) status guidelines
We used the Red Amber Green (RAG) status when reporting progress and status at workstream and programme level.
Monthly Portfolio Governance Committee dashboard
The Portfolio Governance Committee was one of the most important governance forums (see Governance) at which we presented on the status of the transformation every month. The monthly dashboards covered:
- Overall Red Amber Green (RAG) status and schedule performance for the transformation.
- Key messages including opportunities, escalations, special notes, required decisions, requests for direction and so on.
- Go-to-green plans for areas requiring remedial action to get back on track.
- Programme-level risks and/or issues under escalation management.
- A rolling eight-week window of key activities/dates of the future focus of the programme.
Prepared either monthly or fortnightly to provide overall Red Amber Green Status and schedule performance, together with commentary against the keys.
Central Monitoring Agencies reports
Reports completed for the Portfolio Governance Committee on a monthly basis were provided to Central Agencies bi-monthly. An extended detailed version of the Portfolio Governance Committee dashboard, focussed on the 10 keys and including workstream reports, was then provided to Central Monitoring Agencies and used as a discussion point at regular monitoring meetings.
Inland Revenue was directed to provide updates on transformation to Cabinet by July and December each year. The updates were the principal vehicle for reporting on Inland Revenue’s progress in realising benefits. Once considered, these 6-monthly Cabinet updates were published on Inland Revenue’s website.
Business Transformation status report for Joint Ministers
The report provided Joint Ministers with an updated on the following areas:
- progress against the plan
- the current Phase of work
- highlights and challenges.
Our Programme risk management approach recognised that change initiatives of any size and particularly major programme transformations are high-risk undertakings. While programme risks cannot be eliminated entirely, with the right focus and management approach, many can be anticipated and reduced.
Risk management plan
Our risk management plan describes the specific management activities that were undertaken to support the execution of the programme’s risk strategy. Specifically, it sets out:
- the approach used to identify, review and manage risks and issues at programme, sub programme and workstream levels
- the roles and responsibilities for risk and issues management within the programme
- the reporting processes.
Managing issues effectively on a large-scale programme is also crucial to its success. The programme risk management plan therefore provided criteria for issues to be reported, escalated and managed appropriately.
Government requires a major monitored programme to be subject to very regular reviews throughout its life. And this was the case for our transformation. With additional scrutiny from our internal governance boards, we took a highly proactive approach to ensure full transparency and that:
- there was an overall plan for implementing assurance activities
- there was capacity for conducting planned and ad hoc reviews
- ongoing Independent Quality Assurance (IQA), Technical Quality Assurance (TQA) and Gateway reviews were undertaken at key milestones of the Programme, for example before a release go live
- there were Office of the Auditor General (OAG) reviews
- Internal reviews and reviews of our vendors and business partners continued throughout the programme.
- progress was continuously monitored by Central Monitoring Agencies.
The Project Management Office was responsible for planning and coordinating the resource requirements of the transformation. Specialist resources were brought in to the team to manage resource requirements including people, accommodation and equipment. While this is not a traditional model, it did make our Project Management Office a truly operational and delivery-focused team.
At a programme level, resources were tracked using a formal process, where each programme role was assigned a role number. A resource would be requested, the vacancy number checked and recorded, then the request would be formally assessed and approved by the lead with appropriate delegations before recruitment could commence.
Partners and vendors followed a slightly different process which was managed through a Statement of Work with key resources identified and managed.
The size and complexity of the transformation meant that we worked with many hundreds of documents which required a robust control system to be in place to manage them. All programme-level artefacts were control documents. Specifically, these included but were not limited to:
- The Programme Management Plan.
- Transformation updates to Cabinet.
- Baseline programme plans and release plans.
- Design artefacts including requirements, business blueprints, business profiles, solution specifications, and business function definitions.
- Programme level strategies.
- Any Master Services Agreement with third parties and associated Statement of Work.
- Formal Request for Proposal (RFP) responses from third-party providers.
- Operations manuals issued to third-party providers.
Underpinning all these activities was the Programme Management Plan, an internal reference document which supported us to execute the agreed scope and achieve our key objectives.
Programme Management Plan
The Programme Management Plan describes the programme management process and activities, and includes detail around scope, timeline, delivery methodologies and governance arrangements. It also sets out the responsibilities of the programme and how all these aspects will be managed.
The Programme Management Plan was a living document, updated throughout the life of the programme as Inland Revenue transformed.
Programme Management Office resources
Here is a link to more documents created and managed by our transformation Programme Management Office.