Inland Revenue launched its Kiwisaver website just over a year ago but describes it as a work still in progress.
At the recent IBM Forum, IRD project manager Rata Kamau and Solnet’s Paul Hosking outlined the process behind developing the site.
Kamau, who is part of the department’s e-business unit, says Inland Revenue’s responsibility had increasingly expanded into social policy. Taxation is now only 60% of the business.
The department had to engage in a variety of channels, and its target was serving 80% of inquiries electronically by 2010. But Kiwisaver online had a legislative deadline of being operative by 2007.
“Our existing website was considered tactical,” he said. “But it had been operative since 1999 and was near the end of its life. A portal was seen as giving strategic benefits, and we contracted Solnet to assist with investigating that.”
A number of workshops and interviews were held within the department.
“We found there were a number of portal capabilities that fitted our business goals,” he said.
Componentisation and flexible branding were considered important, so several portlets were developed that could be aggregated within the portal. Separate interfaces were developed for branding.
Hosking said different branding was developed on the same infrastructure to cut costs.
“We gave Kiwisaver a brand that was completely different than Inland Revenue but used the same services.
“Personalisation and customisation were the keys, making things easier to navigate and easier for voluntary compliance.”
The Kiwisaver brand is differentiated from Inland Revenue because other organisations have an interest in Kiwisaver, in particular scheme providers.
Componentisation enabled integration at the interface layer, with joined-up services. Collaborative services were used to improve internal communications.
Kamau says Inland Revenue has adopted Solnet’s portal methodology.
“Unfortunately, we had to manage Kiwisaver and the infrastructure deployment in parallel.
“Governance was established at a number of levels, including architectural governance and the operational governance stream.”
The solution design was based on Inland Revenue standards.
Kiwisaver was deployed in two phases, with applications deployed in each phase. There are two datacentres, with failover, delivering Kiwisaver 99.8% uptime 24 by 7.
Kamau says Kiwisaver was deployed first, followed by other online services.
Everything had to be integrated with the back-end SAP, Siebel and FIRST systems.
“If you go to Kiwisaver online, you don’t know you’re being hosted by Inland Revenue,” he said.
He and Hoskings outlined several lessons learned.
• A portal is only available as much as the least-available dependent system.
• Performance testing and monitoring of all components is essential.
• Governance is the key.
“Because portals offer services they require on-going governance and management,” Kamau said.
Inland Revenue has since established a portal centre of excellence. Kamau said the success of the external portal had led to the building of an internal one.
IBM was involved in the quality assurance of the project’s architecture and infrastructure.
The department puts the cost of the design, development and implementation of the portal website at $2.5 million. It intends to re-use the infrastructure and code for other services and projects.
For users, all of their information is available behind the user ID and password. The user can access personal Kiwisaver information form multiple Inland Revenue systems via the portal without having to open other programs or applications.