The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has been providing better protection of human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand since 1977. Operating under the Human Rights Act 1993, it is the national human rights institution working for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand.
As part of its work, HRC staff handle a large number of enquiries, requests and complaints; with 5,666 new human rights enquiries and complaints in 2018/2019.
Called ‘matters’, these may be submitted through email, phone, text, online forms and written letters. All matters are triaged to determine whether there is possible unlawful discrimination. Matters are passed on to the dispute resolution team to evaluate and to help resolve. The aim is to resolve matters through mediation with affected parties, to prevent further escalation through the legal systems and courts. All matters are processed through an online Complaints Management system.
The challenges of an older system
The HRC had outgrown its ageing bespoke Complaints Management system. One of the key issues was access, which was only possible via a remote desktop session through their internal network. Supporting a distributed and remote workforce was difficult.
At the reporting level, they were experiencing challenges in consistently gathering the correct information and producing robust reports. Many of its reports are for the Minister as well as being available to the general public, so generating accurate reports is paramount. As the HRC also receives Official Information Act requests and holds details of sensitive matters, having the security and confidentiality measures in place is vital.
In addition, the old system did not provide adequate collaboration features, and having multiple users working together on a matter was problematic.
Meeting the requirements with Dynamics 365 Customer Service
Dynamics 365 Customer Service empowers teams by giving them the right tools to handle routine requests and resolve more complex issues. As part of the Dynamics Customer Engagement suite, D365 Customer Service simplifies agent and customer experiences through one complete source of customer data using a single, extensible platform.
Theta identified D365 Customer Service as an ideal fit for replacing the legacy system, and the new system “Te Matatuhi” was born.
The name “Te Matatuhi” was derived from Mata (eye, see, read, computer screen) and Tuhi (to write, draw, record). A matatuhi would gather information from many sources and provide advice to the people, in effect reading the signs or indicators to help navigate a difficult situation.
Te Matatuhi meets the requirements of the HRC:
Case/Service Management has features that are well suited to how the HRC is evolving and moving forward. This includes email integration, SharePoint document management and collaboration, together with rich reporting through Power BI.
As there's a limited IT and infrastructure team, a low maintenance cloud-based solution is more sustainable and manageable.
With the support and trusted security of Microsoft technology, there’s peace of mind in keeping up with the newest updates and latest technologies.
The lifecycle of matters is trackable, with the appropriate permission levels for users.
Integration into the existing Office 365 ecosystem deployed by the HRC is possible.
Handling a sensitive project
The focus during the first part of the project was on secure data migration. With 12+ years of sensitive data to migrate, including over 800,000 activities, 380,000 files and 48,000 matters, it was vital to move this history and ownership accurately and retain it securely in the new system. Our Theta Cyber Security team were engaged to ensure the correct standards were observed, and there was a thorough review of the security and privacy of the data and system.
“We were quite anxious over the deployment weekend. Ironically this was due to the phone NOT ringing with issues to solve. Well done Theta! The success of the deployment was due to the hard graft put in prior to the launch, and rapid response to any day to day issues.” - Philip Bryant, Project Manager at HRC
The project identified the benefit of integrating with SharePoint, leveraging existing technology at the HRC that was currently only used for Intranet purposes. During the file migration, a document library was set up in SharePoint, making it easy for users to access and collaborate on documents. The creation of ready to use templates has also made it more time-efficient.
Process optimisation was improved by enabling the Outlook D365 for Customer Service app, assisting users in tracking and allocating incoming and outgoing emails. Emails to the HRC’s Infoline are also automatically tracked and can easily be converted to a matter and dealt with accordingly.
A seamless transition – by design
A goal of the implementation was to replace ageing technology while not changing the business processes. From an external point of view, it was important that parties who engaged with HRC staff didn’t notice any difference in their interactions (aside from more efficient communication). Current processes that didn’t need to change were replicated “as is” in the new system.
In terms of the day to day users of the system, workshops and feedback demos were run throughout the project to keep communication channels open. The workshops kept everyone informed throughout the various stages of the implementation and made sure that users were comfortable to use the new system once installed. User satisfaction with the new system was helped by addressing concerns or usability issues as they arose.
An example of where this feedback was invaluable is in the User Interface (UI). Where it made good business sense, the screens and fields in Te Matatuhi were laid out as they were in the old system, to retain the familiarity that users were happy with. Theta’s onsite consultant was able to talk through any challenges or differences directly.
The outcome - “Te Matatuhi”
Understandably when there is sensitive data at play, there is often a cautious approach and unease of expectation around replacing a core system. However, the HRC has been delighted with how smooth the project was and the high quality of the outcome. Sensitive data was migrated securely (meeting strict security, privacy and accuracy requirements), users can now enjoy a more accessible system, and reports are much simpler to generate. Furthermore, the addition of the Power BI layer has enabled enhanced reporting.
“We have realised the vision we had of implementing a new cloud-based system which gives us many improvements, including greater security of private information, improvements like dashboards that come from a modern system, and a much more streamlined reporting function.” Peter Jackson, Chief Mediator at HRC
As many aspects of the interface were kept consistent with the previous system, users can carry on without undue disruption and have the benefit of better infrastructure and enhanced features and collaboration.
“This project has been successful because there have been some exceptional resources working on the project. However, exceptional resources don’t necessarily achieve exceptional outcomes. It is the fact, that the team transitioned so quickly through Tuckman’s model (forming, storming, norming…) to create a high performing team. I cannot actually think of another project that I worked on where this has occurred so quickly. Nor have I seen a project team listen, communicate and all individually add value to the outcome. Credit must go to everyone involved.” - Philip Bryant, Project Manager at HRC
Permission levels for different users and teams can now be managed efficiently, with filtering and tighter control over which data teams and users have access to. The Human Rights Commission now has a more efficient and modernised system that has been future-proofed.