An Electronic Monitoring system (EMS) to make the country’s one-armed bandits more “honest” is a finalist in the Most Successful Project Implementation category of the 2007 Computerworld Excellence Awards.
The other two are the Inland Revenue Department for its Telecommunications Review Project, which saw the government tax-collector dump Telecom for TelstraClear and implement Voice over IP, and Foodstuffs (South Island), which claims “enhanced control, privacy and fun” for shoppers from self-service check-outs.
The seven-year, $42 million EMS project, implemented by the Department of Internal Affairs, features an IP-based Wide Area Network linking New Zealand’s 20,000 gaming machines across 1600 pubs and clubs.
A Wellington-based centralised computing and processing facility (with a back-up in Auckland) records gaming meter information to ensure appropriate machine payouts to customers, government and pub charities.
Peter Burke, manager, strategic development and support regulation and compliance at the DIA, describes the project as a compliance tool in response to changes to the Gambling Act.
Challenges included linking 20,000 gaming machines across New Zealand to the central host and dealing with a wide variety of venues in creating a CDMA-based virtual private network.
The project was formally launched in January 2004, with the rollout taking place over the nine months until March 2007, just meeting its deadline by ten days.
Communication was a key to project success, along with “a good team effort” and participants being aware of its “tight specifications”. Now, automated processes also save time and allow users to “optimise” gaming operations.
Burke advises: “Have really good planning upfront, involve stakeholders (and have) good communication, good methodologies.”
Pat Herbert, chief executive of the New Zealand RSA says the project was expensive but clubs like its faster methods.
“The processes did come together very well,” he adds.
Steve Andrew, manager of Manurewa RSA in Auckland, confirms: “It’s cut down on paperwork and the time in the morning doing the readings on the machines.”
Another nationwide project, the IRD’s Telecommunications Review Project (TRP), has “successfully delivered one of New Zealand’s most significant voice over IP rollouts”, says IT technical and operations manager Don Burns.
The three-year project, which saw Cisco IP-based telephones issued to 7000 IRD staff, involved up to 60 Inland Revenue and TelstraClear staff, including contractors, at any one time.
A range of management plans were devised, along with critical success factors (CSFs) to measure delivery. These covered areas such as performance, flexibility, functionality and stability.
The new converged telecommunications architecture and telephony platform has delivered an organisation-wide virtual queue for call taking staff, plus toll call savings, adds Burns in his submission.
User David Uday, IRD group manager assistance, says the $10 million-plus project succeeded due to its project methodologies, having a steering committee featuring members from across all the IRD and a “robust business partnership with the service provider”.
The significance of the project, he says, is its size and scale, affecting not just voice, but also data, plus the distributed nature of the IRD.
Finally, FoodStuffs South Island last year implemented the NCR Fastlane self-checkout system at its Pak’N’Save supermarket in Moorhouse Lane, Christchurch.
Project delivery manager Philip Smith says the self-checkouts give the store a point-of-difference, allow customer privacy for sensitive items, and a better customer experience.
Smith says NCR Fastlane is proving so popular with Christchurch shoppers that other store owners are looking to implement it.
Project challenges included gaining EFTPOS accreditation for a self-service system which, he says, was a New Zealand first. The team also had to overcome the challenge of time differences of dealing with a company in Atlanta (NCR).
“Ultimately the challenges, risks and conflicts were all overcome. We attribute this to good project processes and the relationships that developed among project team members in an environment of shared objectives, balanced control, honesty, good faith and fair play,” his submission adds.
Carol Kirk, director of Total Training, who was contracted to train the training staff on how to use Fastlane at Moorhouse and future stores, says the system is easy to use and is working well, with both her children and elderly mother “loving it”.