Cohesion: five significant changes in five years

Five years ago, Intergen was selected as a supplier for the New Zealand government’s Enterprise Content Management (ECMaaS) panel, providing ECM capability on an ‘as a service’ basis to government agencies.

Cohesion: five significant changes in five years

Our solution, Cohesion, is based on Microsoft SharePoint and was developed based on Intergen’s many years of experience implementing enterprise solutions within the public sector, so it mapped to many of the NZ government’s needs. For example, Cohesion offered:

  • a secure, easy to use, enterprise-grade service accessible from anywhere
  • The ability to work, collaborate and share from any location, securely.
  • automation of business processes
  • the ability to securely and easily create, find, and access information on any device
  • superior data organisation and classification that reduces the burden on users
  • invisible handling of compliance and records management processes
  • powerful, collaboration-centric, strategic information management
  • support for compliance with the Public Records Act 2005
  • a catalogue-based service with additional optional extensions

Five years later, here’s what we’ve learned

There’s been a sea change in how we work with technology

Our workplace has fundamentally changed. The technology has definitely matured, our organisational culture in the public sector is increasingly a collaborative one. Add to that the physical realities we experienced after two significant earthquakes, and the workplace is now digital first. Five years ago, the digital workplace was characterised by scanning paper-based documents, so you could work with them digitally. Today, it’s more about completely changing how we operate, transforming our businesses to be technology led and remove reliance on paper or place.

Now, we’re really living up to the promise of letting people work with their content from any location, on any device, at any time, in any context that works for them. The focus is on enabling different work patterns and supporting lifestyle choices.

Partnerships are crucial

Early government adopters were pivotal in bringing this vision to life. One of the original intentions of the ECMaaS panel was to have a partnership that helped bring innovation, and that has taken some time to come to fruition. Our most successful engagements over the last 5 years are with Agencies that genuinely believed in and enabled a partnership ethos. This allowed us to share experience, knowledge and helped Intergen develop our platform so that it could be continually improved to deliver business value to the community.

From the initial adoption, now we’re seeing Cohesion play a role in responding to critical border incidents, biosecurity challenges, and other live decision-making scenarios.

Outcomes are more important than technology

Formerly attributed to the fallout from the global financial crisis, the mantra of doing more with less hasn’t changed. Agencies are asked to make additional efficiencies every year, so it’s been essential to continually find new ways to scale, improve work practices, and enable collaboration.

Government agencies can be as small as a dozen people or as large as 10,000 people. Over the past five years, we’ve seen Cohesion scale up and down, adjusting pragmatically to provide what each agency requires regardless of size. The focus has always been on outcomes, not widgets, which has helped Cohesion unify the public sector’s front lines.

The technology that enables outcomes is always assessed carefully and we evaluating new tools for their possible benefits to our Cohesion community. It’s not perfect yet but we are seeing clients talk less about ‘product x’ and much more about ‘deliver the digital workplace’ which is more exciting for our team. 

The customer/constituent is at the heart of everything

Over the last five years we have also seen government agencies paying more attention to the idea of customer-centricity. Agencies have been tasked with, and committed to, breaking down silos so they can flow data and expertise throughout the organisation, and through the sector for the customer’s benefit. This brings privacy and security challenges which we have been working on since Cohesion’s inception with our Product team continually reviewing and updating policies and approaches to support agencies in this.  

Organisations are consuming technology differently, and that’s a good thing

One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen across the board in the past five years is how organisations consume services. This is the most significant behavioural shift and it hinges on the cloud. Cloud has gone from a conversation piece to reality and the first call to action for many of our clients is ‘get me to the cloud.’

This shift to the cloud is crucially important because it lets us have different conversations with customers about how to achieve outcomes. It has increased the pace of change; customers can consume technology right now, achieve benefits, then move to the next package in their work programme. The speed to delivery and continuous improvements delivers ongoing value for clients has been instrumental in setting organisations up for digital transformation success.

In the past, organisations would invest significant amounts of money and resources upfront in a monolithic technology project. The system would then be largely ignored for the next few years until it started to become unstable, the organisation outgrew it, or users started to complain. At that point, the organisation would be obliged to spend another huge chunk of money and time to upgrade the system, at significant risk to the organisation’s daily operations.

Now, with cloud services, we can deliver incremental improvements all the time. There’s no need for massive IT projects with large upfront investments. Instead, costs can be kept stable over time as updates are pushed to the system regularly.

What does the next five years hold?

Organisations in the private and public sectors will continue to work with ever-growing amounts of information and documentation, and in ever changing formats. While these processes are likely to continue to migrate from legacy environments to more automated and digital work processes, they’re also unlikely to reduce in volume, velocity, and importance. In fact, the pace of operations is only likely to increase, making a strong ECM solution non-negotiable for organisations looking to pare back unnecessary and time-consuming processes.

To find out how Cohesion can help your organisation set the pace of change, contact us today.