Victorian Ombudsman – Refocus with Resolve

Over the past two years at the Victorian Ombudsman, there has been a significant transition in the way that we have been working with Resolve.

Previously, substantial blocks of work needed to be completed on a quarterly basis. This was largely due to a lack of in house Resolve resourcing which meant that Resolve needed to be engaged to not only scope any work but also to develop a solution design and then deliver the requirements. Whilst this was great from a planning and a controlled release perspective, it wasn’t ideal from an agile, operational perspective where a rapid need to change was often impeded by associated change freezes due to substantial change releases within the Resolve system. This meant that often important windows for capturing data were missed as the system couldn’t be modified to address this.

This started to change with a range of modifications required in late 2019 due to legislative amendments and a decision to expand Resolve to handle other aspects of the business.

The transition has taken approximately 19 months as the Victorian Ombudsman has built up its in-house capabilities in both eliciting business requirements and developing system design solutions to business requirements.

Whilst a lot of the day to day configuration can now be done in house, i.e. layout elements, custom field administration etc; for some of the more complex business requirements, Resolve still needed to be engaged to develop extensive macro code etc, or fundamental system changes that need to be made; especially where integration with third-party applications are concerned.

Over the past 12 months, we have taken part in several projects with Resolve. Below are some of the more recent projects we’ve done and how we’ve worked with Resolve ‘outside the square’:

1. Introduction of RSG's robotic email processing add-on

Right at the beginning of the first Covid-19 lockdown, we identified a major opportunity to improve system efficiency by implementing EMS. Working closely with RSG (as best you can work closely during a lockdown) we tested this functionality extensively, but then faced an internal delay to go live in production due to the configuration of a mailbox. We pushed all the required changes through to the Production server, and once the mailbox issue was resolved we flicked the go-live switch.

Currently, EMS is processing approx. 35 emails per day – saving about 2 minutes of manual processing time per email which equates to a saving of 1.25 hours per day. We are now implementing a second EMS service to meet other business needs that we have identified will benefit from this service.

2. Upgrading to take advantage of multi-channel communications

Victorian Ombudsman upgraded Resolve to V11.4 due to an immediate need to upgrade our Content Manager (ex. TRIM) platform. Resolve were engaged to complete this upgrade due to the complexities involved with the Victorian Ombudsman Resolve / Content Manager integration. Substantial macro configuration changes were required as there was a fundamental change to the way Content Manager integrates with other applications in v8.3.- VO was moving from Content Manager V8.2 to V9.4 – a massive jump.

We initially did a full UAT cut over to test functionality before finally upgrading both platforms, Resolve first, then several months later due to technical issues, Content Manager. Resolve were vital in the initial upgrade as several integrations failed due to complexities within the Content Manager / Resolve interface; such as Victorian Ombudsman’s webform and EMS. Whilst these are nice to have integrations, we could work without them for a short period whilst we worked with RSG to fault find and fix. This did require escalation within RSG but we reached a satisfactory outcome within just a few days.

3. Replacing external EDRMS with Resolve Document Store

Back in the early 2000’s Content Manager was identified as the solution for Government’s record management requirements. Victorian Ombudsman was an early adopter of Content Manager, and an even earlier adopter of integration between Content Manager and Resolve. In the last 10-15 years, however, PROV requirements for records management have substantially changed, and as such, the requirement to rely on a dedicated records management system has shifted significantly.

The integration between Content Manager and Resolve is quite a complex beast (see number 2 above), and whilst Resolve is continuing to develop, there isn’t the same level of development happening with Content Manager. Factor in the change in working practises as a result of increased functionality with Office 365 and the rise of SharePoint as a means for real-time content collaboration, Content Manager is now seen as a less effective way to manage documentation across the board.

So far Victorian Ombudsman has tested the improved the native Resolve Document Store as the repository for case-based documentation; as this more or less meets the PROV requirements in terms of version history etc, we are currently exploring ways to export all case-related documents from Content Manager into the Resolve Document Store.

4. Agile implementation approach with RSG Consultants

Investigations form a small part of the total case volume that the Victorian Ombudsman deals with, but the effort involved is truly significant. As often happens in organisations such as Ombudsman’s Offices, system development tends to focus on where the bulk of the activity is carried out, i.e. the intake areas of the business, and other areas tend to just adapt to the changes made for the rest of the business.

It became apparent throughout 2020 that the current implementation of Resolve really wasn’t addressing the needs of our Investigations teams, and that we needed to do something about it. RSG kindly demonstrated a system that was an amalgamation of how several of their clients handle investigations. This really got the creative juices flowing internally, which led to the development of a comprehensive set of requirements. Internal analysis of these requirements meant that we could put together a reasonably decent solution design document, as well as practically demonstrate a Proof of Concept to our internal stakeholders. Once they were happy with the PoC, we were able to seek a quote from RSG based on the design document and the theory that a dedicated RSG Resource would be made available to us, physically on-site several days per week. This has been a true revelation, the development piece has been fully discussed and tested throughout the development lifecycle – if queries emerge, they are answered straight away, similarly, if design interpretations are not quite understood, early rectification can take place.

From a Victorian Ombudsman perspective, I think the collaborative approach of working with RSG in house will become the norm in the future - let your internal admins do what they can, but when you need that extra bit of oomph / support, bring the experts in to beef up your in-house capabilities.

Steve Yates

Resolve Lead