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EXCLUSIVE – New Zealand Ministry of Social Development makes the move to Digital

EXCLUSIVE New Zealand Ministry of Social Development makes the move to Digital

The Government of New Zealand has challenged the public sector to shift to a client-centric approach to service delivery. With this, the Ministry of Social Development is working to improve the way clients interact with their Work and Income, StudyLink and Senior services.

New Zealanders are obviously ready to go digital, with 66 percent having access to an internet connection and 51 per cent have smartphones. Over 70 per cent already transact online with other organisations.

MSD’s Simplification programme will focus on client transactions involving payments and ongoing financial entitlements, bringing those services into the digital age. Simplification aims to grow the number of clients using online services to more than 85 per cent in the next two to three years.

OpenGov reached out to Anurag Madan, Head, IT Digital Services, Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand, to learn about how MSD will further simplify its services to provide a better experience to citizens.

Mr. Madan has 20 plus years Information Technology experience, within both corporate and public sector entities. He is a strategically focused individual with leadership experience in management, planning, development and implementation of information solutions for a large variety of business opportunities.  

This past year, Mr. Madan has been leading MSD towards a future in online services and processes. His team has been focused on carrying out the Simplification project, as well, amidst the changes that are happening in the technology and public sector landscape.


“We are currently going through a stage of massive change at all angles. We have the Simplification program underway, which is looking at bringing the digital way of working into the organisation.” said Mr. Madan.

One of the examples of how the Ministry structure is changing, is through the way they interact with the housing business.

“Last year, there was a decision made to move the housing assessment business, which provides state housing to those who need it. There have been certain parts that have been directed to MSD to manage and administer,” Mr. Madan stated, “What the Government is trying to do is open up the housing market to have other providers which can provide subsidised housing for those who need it.”

This is just one of the areas where the roles and responsibilities of MSD has transformed. Mr. Madan also explained how the child services department is undergoing some changes within the Ministry, which could lead

Given that, the IT Digital Services team must manage these organisational changes while they attempt to carry out their digital transformation projects.

 “IT is at the heart of all of these changes going on. We need clever ways to support these changes through better use of technology, investing in people capability and partnering with vendor communities to get resources and support,” Mr. Madan told us.

“Some successes that we have recently bagged include the housing transfer, the retirement of our legacy case management system, which concluded just last week. This is simplifying the IT application landscape, allowing for innovation and faster development.”

Through the Simplification project, MSD aims to reduce the manual administration of transactions so they can free up more resources to provide further intensive one-on-one employment and social services.

Simpler engagement and faster processing are two of the main goals that MSD hopes to attain through this project.

“This [Simplification project] is split into two phases, simple in the front and smart at the back. The first part is about how we can make our services and offerings more appealing to our clients so they willingly engage in those channels. The smart at the back, is about taking that digital engagement and automating the back office processing where appropriate” Mr. Madan explained.

There are two perspectives which must be analysed with respect to the implementation of the Simplification program.

Mr. Madan explains how understanding these differing perspectives is essential to carrying out such a Simplification program.

“From an execution perspective, there are a lot of things that may get in the way of carrying out these programs. The digital way of working is more about the people, it’s a mindset, supported by practices of Agile and leveraging technology across the Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud offerings ,” exclaimed Mr. Madan.

As for security, Mr. Madan and his team are focused on putting security at the forefront with a ‘security by design’ approach. This method has been influenced by some recent events, leading the Ministry to invest more in raising the level of their security to defend against threats.

“Just last year, we had a tragic incident which made us think of how we can increase both our physical and cyber security to prevent threats from intruding. The Ministry has invested a lot of money into security.” Mr. Madan shared, “One of the things that I have tried to do is emphasise security by design in the way we do work. That has translated into scenarios where the mobile development team are associating risk and mitigations with every feature that they are building.”

With organisational changes and digital transformation taking place, Mr. Madan and his team are quite eager to achieve the goals set out for them and introduce more digital services to the organisation.

“It is quite challenging  and exciting  times to be involved in such transformations. We need to make sure that we are making those inroads and meeting expectations set for us,” said Mr. Madan.

As of now, MSD clients are able to use mobile devices to check appointments, enter several changes in their circumstances, and manage their personal information. Throughout the course of 2016, these services will be extended to new clients with new functionalities introduced.

MSD continues to focus on providing support to citizens into work while reducing benefit dependency. Although digital transformation will change the way some of these services are carried out, MSD will continue to provide face to face services for clients across multiple locations.

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