Queensland's Parliament hopes to extract the maximum possible value out of its investment in a SharePoint Hansard production system, extending the web application platform to a range of other IT projects.
Clerk of the Parliament Neil Laurie told iT News that as a small agency with a small budget, the approach the Parliamentary Service had taken towards its ICT upgrades was all about “leveraging our original groundwork”.
Quizzed at Senate Estimates this week about the SharePoint deployment, Laurie explained that it had all begun last year with a modernisation of the way that parliamentary transcripts were recorded and published.
“To produce Hansard we use a publication production system that our reporters feed into. Our old system was more than ten years old and built on a platform that was no longer supported by the vendor.
“We selected Dialog to build us a new system which they were basing upon SharePoint,” he said. “As part of the Hansard project, we also had to create a back office SharePoint environment.”
That initial investment, which he explained was about $300,000, has influenced a number of subsequent technology decisions within the agency.
“Our next big ICT project was building a new intranet, which we contracted out separately.
“We decided it was more efficient for us to stay with SharePoint as a basis for this too because we were already running an environment based on this platform,” he said. “Going forward, we see a lot of our older software databanks and things of that nature being translated onto the new SharePoint platform.”
Members of the parliament’s Table Office have even initiated their own project using SharePoint to store and publish parliamentary precedents.
The mobility of its core users – members of parliament – has also compelled Laurie and his team to embark upon a program to provide services “anywhere, anytime, on any device”, he told the estimates hearing.
The Queensland parliamentary precinct has just rolled out its own wireless network and is looking towards replacing a lot of its telecommunications cabling as part of the strategy.
He said the Parliamentary Service would be spending a lot of money, in terms relative to the size of its budget, on basic infrastructure “in order to make that strategy work”.