Case study – NBN Co Limited

Awards for Digital Excellence - Commendation 2016

HUBdocs: from zero to hero – How an employee-centric approach to an EDRMS drives adoption, productivity and engagement


NBN Co Limited has turned its electronic document and records management system from a low-adoptive system into a business-critical productivity tool. By understanding the employee experience, pain points and priorities, NBN was able to tailor its approach to implementing an EDRMS to ensure employees were engaged, empowered and excited as well as ensuring that compliance obligations were met.

Agency overview

NBN Co Limited

Established in 2009, NBN Co Limited is a Government Business Enterprise (GBE), owned by the Australian Government. Over the past six years, NBN has grown faster than Facebook. The business has a unique challenge – to build and run nation-changing infrastructure, the likes of which have never been built before.

Its key challenge is scaling to meet its objective to ensure all Australians have access to very fast broadband as soon as possible, at affordable prices and at least cost to taxpayers. The business has more than 5000 employees who are building the network, working in a range of operational, corporate, technical, field and support roles across all states and territories.

The challenge

The volume and complexity of information NBN needs to manage and store has grown with the company.

In addition to its record keeping requirements under a number of Acts, NBN needed an effective, nationally consistent EDRMS to improve efficiency and internal knowledge sharing and minimise duplication of effort and time wasted by employees looking for information.

Business units managed their information in silos and consequently over two thirds of their files were duplicates – but take up of the business-wide EDRMS failed due to poor user adoption, due to over-customising the technology components of the solution.

Research revealed that NBN employees regarded the solution as cumbersome. The proposed solution (based in SharePoint) was positioned around compliance and technology and the implementation lacked adequate stakeholder engagement, training and follow-up. Employees described the implementation as 'dump and run'.

NBN employees did not see any benefit in using the tool and, in fact, reported that the EDRMS impeded their productivity – with some employees referring to the SharePoint based tool as 'Don't SharePoint'.

This meant that the EDRMS initiative had a poor reputation at NBN and business units simply refused to adopt the tool and new ways of working.

The siloed approaches to document management continued, compounding problems such as inconsistent meta-data, the absence of monitoring, massive duplication, storage costs and a lack of confidence in the reliability of information.

The solution

The decision was made to refocus the EDRMS project with an 'employee experience' lens to encourage user adoption and integrate the tool with other collaboration and content tools, such as the corporate intranet. In fact, NBN decided to completely re-platform its intranet in order to integrate with the EDRMS.

The project team undertook comprehensive research into employee needs to redesign the EDRMS.

And then, HUBdocs was born.

Project objectives

The HUBdocs transition project’s objective was to change organisational behaviours and perceptions so that NBN could move to an enterprise-wide EDRMS – a 'single source of truth' – to help its employees be productive and successful in their roles, while also ensuring it can meet its obligations to capture, preserve, record, monitor and dispose of documents in an appropriate way.

Project execution

Understanding the problem

The HUBdocs transition project team undertook extensive employee feedback and developed an approach focused on driving adoption through useability and productivity. Employees were asked about what features would have the most positive impact on their ability to succeed in their roles. The most common themes that came back were around simplicity, mobility, capability, collaboration and reliability. Each business unit was required to participate in transition workshops to ensure an appropriate change, training and migration approach was taken for them (an example of the transition workshop content is attached as an appendix).

Taking an agile, human centred design approach

Using employee input, and in less than six months, the cross-functional project team finalised a redesign and restructure of the EDRMS platform (SharePoint 2013) and implemented a number of improvements to address feedback, such as a simplified security and permissions model with automated governance (AvePoint), better navigation (Archetonomy), integrations with tools for forms and workflows (Nintex), low-touch compliance (RecordPoint) and email integration (Colligo).

However, the various technology solutions deployed were not even mentioned to employees. Employee communications focused on benefits, not technology.

Teaching new behaviours, not new tools

The team devised a comprehensive capability model around the technology in order to take employees through the personal productivity benefits the tool and new ways of working would provide. From a change management perspective, the team faced a difficult task given the reputation of previous implementation programs.

Human touch

To win hearts and minds, and to embed new behaviours, the team established a trusted Business Advisor model to ensure members of the team engaged with business units to understand their priorities, provide training & communication and assist with the migration of content from legacy repositories.

Leadership is key

Endorsement and support from senior leaders was essential for this change program and top leaders, including the CEO, were enlisted as sponsors to champion new behaviours and overcome resistance.

Fresh start

To reflect this change in focus, the EDRMs was rebranded, from National Document Management System (NDMS) to ‘HUBdocs’.

Project outcomes and impact

By placing the employee at the centre of the strategy, the transition project has had a measurable positive impact on the NBN business:

  • Adoption: The transition project has successfully rolled out the HUBdocs solution to 50 per cent of NBN business units, with the remaining business units scheduled for transition over 2016 (previous roll out attempts did not get beyond 20 per cent of business units);
  • Engagement: Overall, NBN employees are reporting an 85 per cent satisfaction rating in regards to the transition process;
  • Collaboration: Greater collaboration is the most frequent benefit reported by business units that use the tool, with 55 per cent of end-users attributing an improvement in team collaboration to HUBdocs;
  • Digitisation: Delivering training focused on business benefits has led to innovation within business areas and the digitisation of processes. For example, NBN’s accounts payable department transitioned to a paperless operating model;
  • Productivity: The ability to co-author within the solution is the most popular feature of HUBdocs, and employees are self-reporting time savings of several hours per week due to this feature;
  • Capability: From a situation where no training was provided, now 70 per cent of NBN employees attend training about HUBdocs. NBN now has a culture that values document and knowledge management; and
  • Cost: The new configuration of the EDRMS is scalable and does not require customisation at the business unit level, which has halved the amount of funding required to maintain the platform.
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019