Case Study - User Focus reduces complexity

Case Study – Focus on User needs reduces technical Complexity


The Company

ITS – University of Otago

The Business Problem

With changes to the way tertiary education is funded, the way users consume services and a greater focus on efficiency, the need to streamline infrastructure, simplify processes and make maximum use of existing investments is becoming more acute.  The challenge was that historically different departments ran their own infrastructure and processes, which was becoming more expensive to operate, harder to support and complex to deploy.  We needed to converge the users on to a common operating model based as far as possible on a single platform.

The Solution

An updated technology platform had already been deployed to address obsolescence in key security services.  This provided a huge boost to the services that could be deployed enabling a substantial improvement in automation and workflow.  The key was to focus the development effort on a set of services that would deliver the biggest user benefit while increasing efficiency and removing potential security loopholes.   A stakeholder consultation program uncovered a number of areas where process improvements could be made and also identified key process requirements based on user lifecycle analysis.  These had tended to emerge and were largely undocumented. At a high level the needs of academic staff, support staff and students were similar, but to meet those needs, they needed access to different services.  A common operating model was defined and services grouped into role and department specific services as well as those services which were common to all.  A set of high level rules was defined and in a further round of consultations, these and the standardisation and automation plans were approved by key stakeholders, particularly as these would reduce the administrative overhead of inducting new people, changes and switching off services as people moved on.


By concentrating on the similarities rather than the differences, a huge amount of complexity was removed.  This was vital to converge the service and define business rules that were not too onerous to implement.  Although operating costs were not substantially reduced, future spend will be avoided and a foundation laid to improve service quality without extra spend.  The key benefit was to gain stakeholder buy-in to a substantial convergence program, which will allow services to be delivered far more efficiently in the future.

Banner image © Mark Neild 2013  Dolphin in Bay of islands New Zealand taken shortly before we went swimming with them.