Digital Records Transformation Initiative – Sourcing Strategy

As outlined in the Digital Records Transformation Initiative - Sourcing Strategy Discussion Paper [PDF document114 KB], the Department of Finance (Finance) intends to establish a Whole-of-Government arrangement for entities to procure technology that supports modernised records management capabilities.

The Digital Records Transformation Initiative - Sourcing Strategy Discussion Paper [PDF document114 KB] was released for comment in November 2018. The Discussion Paper was not a formal approach to market, instead, Finance sought the views of the private sector and Commonwealth entities to determine the most effective and efficient way to source modernised digital records solutions. In particular, Finance sought feedback on:

  1. the use of a co-design approach with industry and entities to determine the most appropriate sourcing arrangements and a statement of requirements; and
  2. whether the capability maturity approach is a useful way to pursue modernisation of Australian Government records management.

Twenty-nine responses from various stakeholders were received and the feedback consolidated. The co-design process proposed in the Digital Records Transformation Discussion Paper: Findings and Next Steps [PDF document113 KB] is now underway. The co-design team is using an Agile Project Methodology, outlined in the Digital Transformation Agency’s Digital Service Standard (DSS) and the Service Design and Delivery Process. This enables the team to respond to new insights from user research and incorporate them into the team's findings.

Co-design

Towards Beta

Sprints five to eight (3 April – 28 May 2019)

The project team moved from the DTA premises to the Department of Finance premises in mid May 2019. The team assessed what was learned during an active and engaging Alpha phase.

The co-design team has tested the draft Sourcing Strategy Framework with eight entities and eight vendors who provided valuable insights into how they could use the proposed tools and processes.

Prototype testing with entities

The co-design team facilitated a problem identification exercise using the Lean Canvas for Government [PDF document 258 KB]. This tool is designed to assist a multidisciplinary team to rapidly describe and discuss records management business challenges in a meaningful way. It is one of many tools that an entity could use to better understand and define records management challenges facing their organisation.

Use of the Lean Canvas for Government assisted entities in defining the problem they were trying to solve. Entities spoke positively about using the Lean Canvas as a guide to gain a deeper understanding of their records management needs.

If you are an entity and would like to assist the team by completing a Lean Canvas for Government, please email digitalrecordstransformation@finance.gov.au to arrange a time for the team to guide you through the process. In particular, we would be keen to hear from entities who are looking to solve records management issues. We would welcome your feedback, which will assist us refine this proposed tool and develop robust guidance.

Prototype testing with vendors consisted of conducting a facilitated exercise using the Lean Procurement Canvas for Government [PDF document 296 KB].This tool is designed to assist multidisciplinary teams from both entities and vendors to rapidly build a shared understanding of buyer needs. The Lean Procurement Canvas is one of many tools an entity and vendor could use together during a Lean Agile Procurement (LEAP) to better understand and define records management challenges facing an organisation and the ways in which a vendor can address their needs.

To further test the Lean Procurement Canvas for Government, the co-design team will use a common records management problem for vendors to work through using the canvas. Vendors will receive the canvas in the next few weeks. Your time and effort is greatly appreciated and will assist us to test whether the canvas captures the necessary information that to enable government to shortlist responses.

Vendors also provided some good feedback, commenting on the benefits of various stages, including the formalising of buyer experience in the Evaluation stage. As a result of this testing, the draft Sourcing Strategy Framework [PDF document170 KB] has been updated. At this stage, the draft Sourcing Strategy Framework has three main components:

A. Problem Definition

An Australian Government entity identifies a problem and a multi-disciplinary procurement team completes a Lean Canvas for Government to articulate and communicate the problem. The Lean Canvas for Government is intended to:

  • assist the entity to determine whether it has enough information to identify the problem
  • identify whether purchasing technology will fix that problem and whether the technology required is simple or new and innovative.

B. Sourcing

Following the problem definition stage, there are three potential sourcing paths that may be taken:

  1. LEAP – For complex problems that require modernised solutions when procurement is addressing an emerging problem that has no well-understood solution. The entity, using the Problem Definition multi-disciplinary procurement team, undertakes a trial of the LEAP methodology resulting in up to four vendors working closely with the entity in a proof of concept (PoC). This allows the entity to see the solution vendors build/provide during the PoC. This approach mitigates risks to value-for-money when sourcing innovative solutions, encourages the market to perform in a competitive environment and if the problem is solved to buyer’s satisfaction, it will result in the selection of a vendor and a path to implementation.

    We believe this method is likely to involve releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) on AusTender with the entity’s problem and conditions detailed in the Lean Procurement Canvas for Government. Interested vendors with solutions to the problem would respond within 25 days (the minimum timeframe required by the Commonwealth Procurement Rules). Responses will be shortlisted to no more than four vendors to participate in the PoC, with shortlisting based on clear evaluation criteria, to assess a number of factors including value for money. We anticipate that a PoC will run for no more than four days (this will vary depending on the complexity of the problem).

    During further research sessions, the co-design team will use the Lean Procurement Canvas to understand whether the prototype tools and models enables vendors to respond meaningfully to approaches to market by buyers.

  2. Standard procurement – Where the solution required is readily available and well understood, the entity is able to better articulate its statement of requirements in an approach to market as it has undertaken a structured problem identification phase. The entity undertakes its own process in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Framework.

  3. No procurement required – The problem can be solved using the entity’s existing technology or without technology.

C. Evaluation

The process is evaluated and information (that is not agreed as confidential) is shared within the Australian Government. Evaluation is important to understand the value of undertaking the process and to provide a mechanism to improve future practices. Evaluation should examine the actions and outcomes before, during and after the process in order to inform future problem identification and sourcing activities.

Where a procurement is undertaken, entities are asked to evaluate the success of the implementation of the records management product purchased after a period of time (for example, six months of use) and offer this back to a centralised repository in Finance as a “lessons learned” exercise. To ensure that information in the repository is fair and accurate, vendors would be invited to also conduct a review.

Where no procurement is undertaken, entities are also asked to evaluate the success of the process.

In all cases, evaluations would be conducted on the:

  • problem identification and definition to understand whether the problems identified were well defined and understood and whether other problems were identified during the process
  • execution of the process including whether the correct sourcing approach was taking
  • benefits realised after the process was completed including to what extent business needs were met.

Next steps

The project will move into the Beta stage in Sprint Nine. During Beta, the model and specific tools will be further tested and refined. This will lead to a live test with a participating entity in the second half of 2019.

Finance welcomes entities and vendors to test some specific tools relating to the Problem Definition and Sourcing stages of the draft Sourcing Strategy Framework (as outlined above).

Results of research and testing will be shared with stakeholder agencies and other interested parties within the Australian Government. We may credit sources in our research analysis (unless you ask to remain anonymous).

At this time, there is no guarantee that the results of our research will lead to any procurement or change in the way the Australian Government does business with vendors.

Alpha phase

Sprints three and four (6 March – 2 April 2019)

In Alpha phase (which commenced in sprint three), we tested:

  • the viability of a small number of potential models for improving government’s understanding of the challenges and needs for records management
  • how a government entity could more accurately describe its needs prior to sourcing
  • ways that the sourcing of records management tools and capability might be improved and modernised.

The models in development are in line with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and have benefitted from discussions with procurement specialists from the Department of Finance and the Digital Transformation Agency. Cross-jurisdictional discussions have also been informative, where parallels in direction were identified.

Australian Government entities that expressed interest, participated in user research/testing sessions during sprint four. These sessions continued in the next sprints.

Feedback was sought on a draft Sourcing Strategy Framework, which detailed the thinking on the Sourcing Strategy at that time. Our thanks to those who responded and offered contributions to its next iteration.

Discovery phase

Sprint one (6 – 19 February 2019)

Our focus during the first sprint of the Discovery phase was to validate findings from previous stages of the project. We began this process by speaking to stakeholders across government and the private sector through workshops and one-on-one interviews. Our research group consisted of five vendors and 35 subject matter experts including records creators/users, records managers, procurement officials, policy makers, professional associations and a state government. Common themes identified during the first sprint of the Discovery phase included the cultural value of information, the tools with which we work, the ways in which government buys records management products and interactions with service providers.

Sprint two (20 February – 05 March 2019)

Research interviews continued, as more subject matter experts flagged their interest in contributing to the Discovery phase. This user research has helped us understand the experience of stakeholders who interact with current systems of records management, decision making and procurement.

Themes broadly described in sprint one, above, were investigated in greater depth and include points relating to tools and technology being neither entirely the problem nor entirely the solution, and compliance being the main focus of procurement effort.

Insights were gained from Discovery, through both the lens of government and the lens of industry. These include the increased profile of the records management function within entities, and that there are a number of forward-thinking, new and innovative vendors who can deliver to the Australian Government market.

Opportunities arising from Discovery are significant. Modernisation of records management is possible with more clearly scoped procurements and access to innovative emerging technologies.

Sprint two closed out the Discovery phase which provided further data and insights, identifying candidate sourcing strategy models to take forward into sprint three, the start of the Alpha phase (6 to 20 March). Alpha is an experimental phase and an opportunity to work through model prototypes.

We welcome input from experts in procurement, records management and technology service provision. In particular, we are keen to hear opinions and experiences in different methods of procuring goods and services that are rapidly evolving. Should you wish to contribute to the co-design process, please email us at digitalrecordstransformation@finance.gov.au

Last updated: 12 June 2019