The Scottish Government is the devolved government for Scotland and has a range of responsibilities that include: the economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport and taxation.
Exception’s Consultants brought experience and focus to our technical and business decision making, becoming our expert advisors and ensuring Scottish Government were able to drive out best value through the upgrade of this major business critical system. They also provided me with a great deal of comfort and surety, enabling my team to focus on the many business opportunities that the next generation eRDM solution provides to the entire Organisation.
Scottish Government’s Needs
The effective, efficient and compliant management of documents and records underpins the Scottish Government’s business operations across the entire organisation. The Scottish Government and all its employees have a responsibility to manage records effectively and in accordance with the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 as well as the Government’s own Records Management Plan and Policy. The business-critical technology solution that supports the policy and its associated processes is known internally as eRDM – the electronic Records & Document Management solution. The user base is approximately 8,000 strong and the data store holds over 34 million objects, largely office documents such as letters, reports, spreadsheets, and pictures, as well as email correspondence. Collectively these objects represent the Corporate Record of Scottish Government. In early 2016 the Information Technology & Services division (iTECS), identified the need to plan for the modernisation of eRDM as the support and maintenance contract in place for the legacy system was nearing the end of its term. Exception were invited to assist iTECS from the earliest planning stages, through options appraisal, business case development, procurement, and ultimately to support the implementation of the next generation solution.
Exception’s role in the planning and introduction of the new solution was carried out across two project phases, each with multiple key components and deliverables as outlined below:
- Phase 1
- End-to-end Technical Assessment – Exception’s Technical Assurance Services provided a comprehensive and independent assessment of the status of the eRDM system during the initial stages of discovery. This involved an in-depth assessment of the technology landscape relating to the solution including software,hardware, hosting, data, and integration. The findings from the report informed the content for the Outline Business Case and reflected the scale, business criticality, and strategic importance of the eRDM system.
- Business Requirements Catalogue & User Needs Analysis – A requirements catalogue was developed by Exception’s Consultants in consultation with an array of Scottish Government and partner stakeholders including the Digital Directorate – User Research and Engagement team. This was the first time since the eRDM system was originally implemented in 2004 that the Business Requirements had been captured and the needs of the User had been considered in modern contexts such as solution usability and accessibility.
- The key deliverable of the first phase of the project was a HM Treasury Green Book compliant Outline Business Case (OBC). It detailed the options for delivering a next generation solution and included a strategic, economic, financial, and commercial analysis of each option. This 114-page document honed a long-list of 10 options down to a short-list of 5, and identified the Preferred Option following detailed assessment of critical success factors, risks, cost, value, deliverability, and affordability.
- Phase 2
- Procurement of the Preferred Option – Following Executive Team approval of the Outline Business Case, procurement activities commenced. Exception supported the contract negotiation process, leading negotiations on behalf of iTECS and developing key contractual schedules on behalf of the Scottish Government including the statement of Requirements and Service Levels.
- Full Business Case – The Full Business Case (FBC) was developed from the Original Business Case (OBC) and reflected the outcomes of the successful procurement of the Preferred Option. The FBC set out the actual costs which were contractually committed with the supplier and refined other cost estimates to a greater level of detail based on the passage of time. Following PRINCE2 and MSP good practice, the business case is constantly reviewed to ensure that each phase of the Programme remains on track to deliver the benefits sought within the tolerances agreed.
- eRDM Technology Platform Upgrade – The key deliverable of the second phase was the upgrade and modernisation of the technology platform hosting the eRDM System. All enhancements were designed to support the subsequent roll-out of the next generation solution to the entire user base. This upgrade involved the implementation of a high-availability server architecture, new storage infrastructure components, and the migration of over 34 million documents and records across the three main storage platforms:
1. physical documents stored on the SAN;
2. document metadata stored on the corporate Oracle platform; and
3. Search Indexes stored on proprietary search server technology for eRDM.
Exception were responsible for assurance of all aspects of the upgrade and led the optimising of the the migration approach so that it could be successfully concluded within a challenging go-live timeframe, ensuring minimal impact on the business.
- Phase Three Implementation Plan – The final deliverable was an implementation plan for the roll-out of the new solution to all 8,000 users. The new solution is to include numerous new features and functionality secured through procurement of the Preferred Option, such as workflow, cloud collaboration, Management Information reporting, and a modern, browser based front-end User Interface. The plan demonstrated how each feature would be assessed from a technical perspective so that it could be accepted into the technology landscape prior to being made available to the business and implemented to the end-user community. Such a process provides greater levels of technical assurance and governance than has previously been achieved in relation to the modernisation of a key corporate system.
All the defined outcomes were successfully achieved and deliverables were completed on-time and within budget. Several of the outputs developed by Exception, such as the eRDM Technical Assessment and the Full Business Case, have been promoted by iTEC as exemplar outputs which all future technology enabled projects should be measured against and strive to emulate.