​Jobs and Small Business to update 15 year-old employment system

The deadline is 2020.

The Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business is refreshing its core employment system, with CIO Kerryn Kovacevic telling the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo the refresh will put the customer at the centre.

"We need to provide a better service, a much more seamless service ... some of it's pretty clunky, it's old, so it's the process of overhauling that, making it much more streamlined, and a lot more simple," she said.

"Customers don't care if they are dealing with the Department of Human Services or a JobActive provider they just want to do the things they need to do and get the support that they need, and hopefully get a job."

She said the department will be introducing the new employment system in 2020.

"That system has to be a lot better than the one we've been using for the last 15 years," Kovacevic said. "It needs to have the customers at the centre of it."

According to Kovacevic, in preparing for the new platform, the department has had to change the way it works, adopting an agile approach over the last 18 months.

"That's been a good experience, it's been a challenge, and we're still working out how to do it," she explained. "I have a group of about 400 people who are very good at what they do, but we have very embedded processes and trying to change that approach is challenging."

She said for her department, relationships with stakeholders will be the key to success.

"In my organisation, one of the hardest things has been to convince the business that IT can do more," she said. "That's meant going right back to the start ... and demonstrating what we can do."

Kovacevic said the business side of the department has had to be brought in on numerous occasions to showcase what can be achieved by Jobs and Small Business where technology is concerned.

"Every two weeks we're doing showcases," she said.

In July, the department had a major release, with Kovacevic calling it "humungous".

"There were a lot of sharp, new changes to the system, new programs, legislation," she continued. "We're also undergoing a change in our technology ... and that's a very slow process, but what it meant was this big release carried a huge amount of risk, in fact it was going to take something like three days for us to actually implement all these changes."

She said it was a challenge considering business as usual had to keep going, and job seekers had to keep getting paid.

Disclosure: Asha McLean travelled to Gartner Symposium/ITxpo as a guest of Gartner.

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