Finance and Business Systems

Having reliable data and information is essential to making the right decisions for an organisation. SCIRT's purpose-built business systems ensured everyone in the large and complex organisation had visibility of progress and access to all relevant information.

Last updated
11:13pm 1st November 2017

Contains 33 items in 13 collections

Business Systems
Business Systems
Rebuilding horizontal infrastructure proved to be a mammoth undertaking. With 740 projects, up to 2000 staff and a $2.2 billion budget, purpose-designed business systems were vital to manage the complex programme of SCIRT works. Capturing crucial data to enable and empower the rebuild of Christchurch was paramount for SCIRT. Indeed, the success of the SCIRT programme was built on those business systems. Rebuilding horizontal infrastructure proved to be a mammoth undertaking. With 740 projects, up to 2000 staff at the peak and a $2.2 billion budget, purpose-designed business systems were vital to manage the complex programme of SCIRT works. Amid the ongoing tremors and the unprecedented scale of horizontal infrastructure destruction, the need to quickly introduce robust systems to manage the massive amount of project and asset-related documentation and data was laid bare. Integral to SCIRT's day-to-day functionality, the business systems ensured works programme processes were on track and that the organisation was well placed to adapt and grow to support stakeholder confidence and meet rebuild demands. The culture of accuracy and continuous improvement allowed for business systems experimentation and didn't penalise any missteps in the development phase. It was a fast-tracked process. If a step worked, it stayed. If not, an alternative was found. A YouTube video about SCIRT's business systems can be viewed here: Glossary terms:
  • HiViz (a web-based front-end reporting and analysis portal)
  • GIS Viewer (a detailed view for designers, engineers and delivery teams)
  • RAMM (Road Assessment and Maintenance Management)
  • InfoNet (pipe condition assessment)
  • Forward Works Viewer (schedule placement area, enabling coordination between projects)
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Click Click Zoom - Focus on GPS Cameras
Click Click Zoom - Focus on GPS Cameras
Global Positioning System (GPS) cameras were used throughout the SCIRT programme to take site photos, which were then uploaded and displayed as a layer on the SCIRT GIS (Geographic Information System) Viewer. At the beginning of SCIRT's five-year programme, the scale and scope of the damage to Christchurch's horizontal infrastructure was unknown. A lot of information was needed to inform the design process. One fast, relatively cheap and easy way to collect information was by camera. Managing the cost of storage, image quality and easy access to photographs were key factors in the decision to use GPS cameras to take site photos. SCIRT's Information Technology (IT) team identified the best GPS cameras for the task. SCIRT's Geographic Information System (GIS) team created and documented a process (see attached manual) to make photographs available to everyone who needed them via SCIRT's Viewer. Initially, a bookable calendar system was created for team members to use the cameras when visiting sites. Soon, a further process was developed utilising personal mobile phones. After initial testing, the GIS team's manual was amended to enable the use of photos taken with mobile phones, and extended to incorporate a description to be displayed with each photo. The upload process was made as simple as possible. Site photos were placed in a specific file location on the internal server - following a set folder structure - with a process to extract the coordinates from the photos, attach a description, resize, make three copies and then update on the SCIRT Viewer. All photos were accessible via the SCIRT Viewer as a point layer, with details of the project/phase and description attached (all of which were searchable). This proved to be very useful when designers were reviewing asset condition information to develop repair solutions, particularly after heavy rainfall. Photos showed the scale of asset damage, and the extent and flow of storm water. Photos without GPS coordinates were made available on the home page of the SCIRT Viewer. These could be scrolled through, similar to Windows Explorer. A separate process was created to upload asset photos taken without GPS cameras to the Viewer. These were linked to asset locations by means of a photo-naming convention (see attachment). The key learnings for other organisations are:
  • Photos are exceptionally useful for informing the design process, especially following heavy rainfall when designers can see where storm water flows.
  • Photos are easy to find on the Viewer, showing the location from where they have been taken, with a symbol illustrating the direction the photo has been taken from.
  • Consider the potential reuse of photos. SCIRT has found it necessary to add a watermark stating "not for public distribution".
  • Streamline the process and associated documentation and make it available to everyone.
  • Create an easy to use, efficient process. After initial testing, the GIS team created a process which enabled the "drag and drop" of photos into a folder location, which, in turn, triggered the process to automatically update the Viewer.
Glossary terms:
  • GPS - Global Positioning System
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Data Collection Applications
Data Collection Applications
The Geospatial Information System (GIS) team updated and delivered complete geospatial datasets for more than 200,000 council assets. To aid this process, they tailored two mobile applications that sped up and increased the accuracy of data collection. In addition to its extensive physical repair works, SCIRT's deliverables included a complete geospatial dataset, showing both newly installed assets and also the existing spatial network showing decommissioned Christchurch City Council (council) 3 waters assets. It made sense, from cost and efficiency perspectives, to use predefined forms and mobile applications (apps) to collect this data. In 2015/2016, SCIRT's Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) team implemented two tailored apps for data collection of constructed survey data. The first was based on an offline data collection app called iForm (Zerion software) and the second was Collector for ESRI ArcGIS. The primary data governance file, the G-File, provided the details for all of the features and attribute information required for both apps. iForm was a form based application and was used to collect the asset information, usually in the field. It synced back to SCIRT data servers whenever an internet connection was available. A unique identifier representing each feature provided the link between the attribute information that was collected through iForm and the surveyed locations. Both of these sources were zipped together and transferred into in an Excel spreadsheet to record the constructed asset information in a standard format. These data provided the basis for the Collector app and highlighted what asset records had missing attributes. Supporting tools were developed using Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) to upload/download/sync/validate the data between the apps to ensure what was supplied to SCIRT's GIS team met requirements. With five different construction teams (Delivery Teams), and a need to produce this information economically, the GIS team initially relied on the Delivery Teams to develop their own data collecting methods. To support this, and to standardise requirements, the GIS Team developed the data standard and tools (such as the apps), but ultimately it was up to the individual Delivery Team to choose to make the move from the traditional manual approach. Both of these apps were not as successful as they could have been due to the slow uptake by Delivery Teams. It was a very new way of collecting data. One construction team fully embraced the use of the apps and it showed in their high throughput of data. A presentation by GIS Team member Ekki Scheffler about using iForm can be viewed here: The key learnings for other organisations are:
  • Stipulate clearly the requirements and format for the method of data collection.
  • Include mandated methods of data collection in your requirements. By not including an obligation for Delivery Teams to use the apps, there was a slow uptake.
  • Invest time and work closely with the people collecting the data. Unfortunately this was only realised towards the end of the SCIRT programme, but it fast became apparent that this approach would work well.
Glossary terms:
  • FME - Feature Manipulation Engine software by Safe Software that allows data to be transformed to and from over 350 formats
  • ESRI - GIS System
  • GIS - Geospatial Information System
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Data Governance - Standardise, Process and Deliver
Data Governance - Standardise, Process and Deliver
To ensure high-quality, standardised data were delivered to clients, SCIRT's Geographic Information System (GIS) Team created a dynamic process governance model. In addition to its extensive physical repair works, SCIRT's deliverables included a complete geospatial dataset, showing both newly installed assets and the existing spatial network with decommissioned assets. Throughout the five-year, $2.2 billion programme, SCIRT's Geographic Information System (GIS) team processed and delivered more than 200,000 spatial assets with associated attribute information to meet client requirements. To achieve this, a change in mind set over data collection and supply was needed. Each of SCIRT's five Delivery Teams had a different approach. They used individual formats with varying quality. Standards were needed. Not only did SCIRT need data, it needed to ensure it was correct. To deliver this, SCIRT's GIS team developed and applied a dynamic process governance model, built around a database named the "G-File". The G-File standardised, processed and delivered huge volumes of data that updated back into the client's database for immediate reuse. The G-File database held all the data schema information used by SCIRT for the three waters networks (geometries, feature classes, attributes and values required). A collaborative process was used from the beginning, taking user requirements and technical specifications into account. As a result, extensive knowledge was built about mapping, particularly between a survey reality and the network models. A guideline and a template were created from the database, setting out how the five Delivery Teams were to capture three waters' network information. This was extended to supply a guideline and tools for data validation. The G-File database allowed the SCIRT GIS team to define how best to approach what needed to be captured, and map this information back to how the client held and stored the data. The existing client data structure was not flexible or consistent enough to meet the requirements requested. The GIS team could not change the client's schema, so instead standardised the schema, applying consistent attribute names and enhanced attribute values where required. The G-File database enabled and controlled automated processes. These processes were developed to facilitate spatial data collection and supply, updates and conversion, quality assurance, publishing and, eventually, handover to the clients. Any changes to schema information were made to the single database and flowed through all processes dynamically. In summary, the G-File database was an efficient, one-stop maintenance model, capable of providing a high quality and quantity of survey data and managing a complex GIS system to successfully support the SCIRT programme. It was capable of standardising, collecting, processing and delivering. The G-File model was recognised when SCIRT's GIS team was chosen as a New Zealand Spatial Excellence Awards (NZSEA) 2016 finalist in the technical excellence category. The award application and presentation are attached below. The key learnings for other organisations are:
  • Centralise and standardise: SCIRT's G-File model promoted the centralisation and standardisation of data specifications.
  • Quantity and quality: The application of this model at SCIRT significantly improved the quantity and quality of survey data delivered to clients.
  • The potential for this model to become a benchmark was illustrated by the fact SCIRT's clients chose to adopt the concept of the G-File model, and it was subsequently used in the definition of new national infrastructure data standards.
  • SCIRT's G-File model put data and quality data centre stage, enabling the organisation as a whole to make better, more informed decisions.
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Accurate estimating was a vital element in controlling costs and demonstrating the best value for money in the long run. For SCIRT, more than 700 earthquake rebuild projects required a multi-billion-dollar programme and the estimates had to be right. Accurate estimating was a vital element in controlling costs and demonstrating the best value for money in the long run. Ensuring value for money included market comparable pricing and implementing pricing procedures so transparency and probity could be assured. SCIRT's Estimating Management Plan was designed to deliver on SCIRT's Alliance Agreement objectives:
  • Showing the best long-term value for money.
  • Doing the right thing right, at the right time to the right standard every time, and completing the rebuild effort to prescribed standards with minimal rework.
Often with many unknowns regarding the state of infrastructure, SCIRT set target costs on each project as it was scoped and designed. Calculating the cost estimates would prove testing with so many variables. With more than 700 projects within a five-and-a-half-year period and a $2.2 billion budget, correct project estimates were paramount. The Target Out-turn Cost estimates proved to be very accurate. There was a very close correlation between the estimate and the actual cost throughout the rebuild project programme. SCIRT's estimates were also highly competitive and well within the national industry benchmark.
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Financial Management Plan
Financial Management Plan
The Financial Management Plan outlines SCIRT's commercial framework, financial principles and processes for a financially effective alliance. It also describes how timely, accurate information relating to estimating and all costs have been managed and reported for each project phase in the SCIRT programme. A suite of 31 management plans were developed under the Interim Alliance Agreement prior to the start of SCIRT, to intentionally guide the organisation. These plans were reviewed annually and updated as required. The SCIRT Financial Management Plan provides the framework to effectively:
  • Establish, implement and manage a sustainable commercial framework and financial principles for an alliance programme of projects.
  • Demonstrate value for money elements within the programme.
  • Deliver timely and accurate information on:
    • financial commitments;
    • actual cost to date;
    • forecast cost to complete.
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Geographic Information System Support of the Rebuild
Geographic Information System Support of the Rebuild
Several business systems were chosen to provide efficient and effective data collation, storage, interrogation and reporting for the SCIRT rebuild, using modern, accurate and appropriate technologies. One of those was a Geographic Information System (GIS). The SCIRT rebuild programme required a great deal of spatial position information to be collated and disseminated to those assessing the state of assets, planning, designing and constructing repairs and rebuild. In setting up its systems, SCIRT decided to utilise a Geographic Information System (GIS) to meet those needs, after the value of such a system had been proven in rebuild work following the September 2010 earthquake. Three key components of the GIS were established:
  1. The SCIRT GIS team, which directly supported other SCIRT staff with their immediate spatial data needs.
  2. The SCIRT GIS data management system, which consisted of the database structures, datasets, spatial analysis and required maintenance processes. The system was integrated with other disciplines within SCIRT, providing solutions across all departments: Communications, Assessment, Design, Transport, Delivery, Commercial, and Management. More than 20 organisations passed data to the GIS team, enabling a variety of up-to-date information to be sourced. Key management and engineering tools were migrated into the system, including the Project Prioritisation Multi-criteria Analysis Tool and the Pipe Damage Assessment Tool.
  3. The SCIRT GIS Viewer, providing a single, secure source of city-wide information in a current and user-friendly internet portal, which was quickly accessible and easily interrogated. A user was able to see on screen the same information that a series of maps would provide, while nearly 600 interactive layers provided a wealth of information including the location of underground infrastructure such as pipes and cables, together with surface features and land information.
The use of GIS in SCIRT changed perceptions of what could be achieved for engineering projects, encouraging users to conceive implementation of GIS in their home organisations and provided benefits to the community through better decisions, based on being able to consider a wide range of data more intuitively. The system was introduced to help support decision making - not to take away from existing design tools - leading to a reputation for providing the most complete catalogue of GIS information required for engineering and rebuild projects. In 2012, the SCIRT GIS was recognised internationally by winning the ESRI Special Achievement in GIS award. In 2013, the SCIRT GIS team was a finalist in the New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards and in 2014, members of the team won both the Young Professional of the Year and the Professional of the Year at the New Zealand Spatial Excellence Awards. Glossary terms:
  • GIS: Geographic Information System is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage and present all types of spatial or geographical data.
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ProjectCentre: Central approach to projects
ProjectCentre: Central approach to projects
ProjectCentre enabled the integration of correspondence, documentation and data for post-earthquake design, planning and construction phases to lift efficiency, lower costs and improve decision-making. An integrated, web-based collaboration workspace was central to the success of SCIRT. SCIRT selected an off-the-shelf software package, ProjectCentre, to enable the integration of correspondence, documentation and data for post-earthquake design, planning and construction phases to lift efficiency, lower costs and improve decision-making. All formal project communications remained in one, central system. Each system interaction was tracked and information was easy to access. The central Integrated Services Team (IST) could access all information across all projects. Users could capture, report and review all data, documentation and communications throughout each SCIRT project. The high level of integration greatly aided planning and construction work. Scope of use ProjectCentre was used to house and co-ordinate:
  • Sequential To do actions
  • Correspondence
  • Files
  • Timesheet submission
Each interaction was recorded and there was no "delete" button. All discussions, requests for information or changes were tracked and auditable, ensuring accountability on each project. All projects could be monitored remotely in real time. The highly adaptable and configurable ProjectCentre grew with SCIRT demands, supporting multi-million-dollar projects and allowing for the transfer of information between the delivery teams and the IST. "ProjectCentre was the backbone of SCIRT," document controller Meredith Wain said. "It was a flexible, transparent and comprehensive central repository that was easy to customise and access remotely." ProjectCentre was the system of choice because of its flexibility, easy configurability, and collaborative processes. There was no need for countless emails relating to a project and all the data was accessible. All forms could be customised and the system was easy to audit. "With all correspondence in one place, it was a one-stop shop," business systems administrator Margaret Arrowsmith said. "Our first task was to take all the correspondence and documentation that had been gathered in the early days prior to the start of the SCIRT programme, and load that into ProjectCentre." Users could customise communications and track project progress as ProjectCentre adapted to changing workflows. Users could also identify the cost and construction implications of project changes in the intuitive system. The collaborative information transfer between the different groups involved in the SCIRT programme played a major role in the timely and cost-effective horizontal infrastructure rebuild. Lessons learnt In retrospect, having the five delivery teams operating independently within ProjectCentre, without visibility of each other's projects, was not the best decision. To further lift rebuild collaboration, having all five delivery teams operating in one area of ProjectCentre would have been a better option. "Operating within one big site and using individual security for delivery teams would have encouraged greater collaboration, and saved time and duplication in the long run," Arrowsmith said. In summary, the biggest lesson was the need for all delivery teams to operate on one site within company security "walls", rather than five delivery teams operating separately within ProjectCentre.
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SCIRT Geographic Information System (GIS) Viewer
SCIRT Geographic Information System (GIS) Viewer
From day one, data and information were vital to ensure informed decisions about what to do, where and when. Ensuring visibility and availability was top priority. The SCIRT Geographic Information System (GIS) Viewer was an online map; a portal, which provided access to the geographical information required by the organisation. It allowed secure access to more than 600 data layers and gave more than 1500 users an up-to-date, easy to use city-wide view of all required information. Users were given one of 32 online map view configurations, with restricted views of the data depending on need and security level. The viewer included data from more than 30 sources including the Christchurch City Council (CCC), utilities providers (Orion, Rockgas, Contact), the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), the New Zealand Archaeological Association, GNS Science, Land Information New Zealand and Road Assessment and Maintenance Management (RAMM). The viewer was updated more than 2700 times during the SCIRT programme. Key lessons about the importance of visible information:
  • Set up teams and systems to accommodate ongoing change.
  • Seek to understand end users' needs. The best solutions can be tailored when needs are fully understood.
  • Focus on user experience. Make sure the system is always up-to-date and working.
  • Use data agreements and restrict access as appropriate to provide confidence in system security.
  • A single sign-on system and user request forms makes user access easier to manage.
  • Incorporate tools to allow for the capturing of live data.
  • Enable digital data capture from when the system is first created.
A short video was produced by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) about SCIRT's web-map: Glossary terms:
  • GIS - Geographic Information System
  • Web-map - an online map that can be accessed from anywhere
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The Commercial Model
The Commercial Model
How do you control the money in a post-disaster rebuild context? For SCIRT, it was the $2.2 billion question. Under SCIRT, a unique commercial model was developed, from a belief that the rebuild programme could function more effectively if a balance was struck between competition and collaboration. With a multi-billion-dollar plan on the table to repair and restore Christchurch's damaged roads and underground services, SCIRT recognised the need for innovation, quickly setting the scene for a new commercial reality that would ensure money was always well spent. Glossary terms
  • key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • key result areas (KRAs)
  • actual out-turn cost (AOC)
  • target out-turn cost (TOC)
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