The Auditor-General is responsible, under the Auditor-General Act 1997 (the Act), for providing auditing services to the Parliament and public sector entities. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) supports the Auditor-General, who is an independent officer of the Parliament.
The ANAO’s primary client is the Australian Parliament. Our purpose is to provide the Parliament with an independent assessment of selected areas of public administration, and assurance about public sector financial reporting, administration, and accountability. We do this primarily by conducting performance audits, financial statement audits, and assurance reviews. The ANAO does not exercise management functions or have an executive role. These are the responsibility of entity management.
As the independent external auditor for the Commonwealth of Australia, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) supports Australia’s Auditor-General — an independent officer reporting to the Australian Parliament. The 350-person organization provides Parliament with an independent assessment of selected areas of public administration and assurance about public sector financial reporting, administration and accountability. This is accomplished through a series of 55 performance audits annually, specifically targeting large government expenditures or expenditures with significant impact on the citizens of the country, and 287 annual assurance audits performed on all Australian Government-controlled entities, which produce an annual financial statement that is presented to Parliament by the Auditor-General. ANAO also develops best practices guides for all Australian Government entities intended to guide government agency compliance in such areas as asset management, contract management and human resources management.
ANAO adopted Changepoint nearly three years ago after going out to the market to seek a solution for professional services automation (PSA).
“Looking for greater efficiencies within our own organization and seeking a common set of business rules to improve our business performance, reduce costs and enable our ability to deliver projects on deadline,” explained ANAO CIO Gary Pettigrove. “Each group had distinct business processes, and operated with its own tools for project management and services automation, which meant we had 14 different applications to support and administer. We were turning in our audits several months past the expected schedule, and we were at least a month in arrears on our reporting of business data. We had no support for time tracking when people were out in the field conducting an audit, so we used to make them fly back each week to come in Monday and submit their time sheets. We lacked transparency at the executive level, and had very little facility to manage our own business in a timely manner. It was difficult for the executive to sit back and look at the overall project portfolio. We weren’t able to predict in an appropriate, reliable manner the peaks and troughs in annual activity. We didn’t report how time was being allocated across projects to make sensible business decisions. We had limited visibility into resource demand or available capacity, and subsequently had difficulty with cost and schedule control. We knew we needed to get better.”
With the help of a consulting firm, the ANAO began by analyzing its own business and its enterprise business architecture to identify the gaps. The team then worked with internal stakeholders to build a business case for investment in a consolidated PSA solution to help the organization improve performance in the following areas:
ANAO also set an ambitious goal to deliver a return on investment on the PSA solution of between 10-12% over a specific period.
Vendor response to ANAO’s tender for a PSA solution was significant, leaving the team with 11 solutions to examine. At the end of the evaluation process, Changepoint proved to be the most robust and financially appealing solution. After the contract was signed ANAO set out an aggressive implementation plan built around an agile, rapid deployment aimed at getting the solution up and running quickly, and ensuring the defined processes work in practice. Through Changepoint’s Guardian Services Program, a Changepoint services consultant was embedded within the ANAO team to become the go-to Changepoint guru for staff and to ensure that ANAO continued to drive incremental value from its investment.
Changepoint is now actively used for time and expense reporting by all 350 ANAO staff members, and the team is actively investigating turning on additional capabilities such as resource management, portfolio management and request management.
Pettigrove explained that the notion of detailed time and expense tracking came as a bit of culture shock for ANAO’s team. “We did not have an efficient or comprehensive enterprise timesheet process prior to Changepoint. Now we are asking them to track their time on projects, and on non-project activities such as leave and training. In addition, we are at our heart an auditing organization, and auditors are trained to be critical. So their first instinct when faced with a new system was to critique it. We had to get past that to move forward and make our business better.”
To overcome these barriers, Pettigrove recruited support from the very top—the Executive. “People weren’t resisting the tool. They were resisting the change in organizational behavior we were asking of them. A message needed to flow down through the organization that the executive level needed this information so they can improve and become more efficient as a business. Once staff understood what the ANAO were trying to achieve, they came on board.” The ANAO also met team members in the middle by offering them customizations to meet the flexibility and latitude to comply with the Australian Public Service enterprise agreement conditions. In time people began to like the new way of working. And today, staff at ANAO can’t imagine life without Changepoint. “We’ve gone from ‘What is this?’ to ‘This system supports my job’. We can’t do without it. It is the best system we’ve ever had, in just three years,” said Pettigrove.
The business benefits Changepoint has delivered to ANAO are impressive indeed. With improved visibility into peaks and valleys in demand and resource capacity, the organization has been able to reduce its staffing requirements by 5%, and cut $2 million in contracting expenses (these budget dollars have been redeployed to new areas and improve the quality of the products). Staff members in the field now log time into Changepoint (ANAO opted for a Software as a Service delivery model) from their laptop anywhere, any time, and no longer need to report back into the office on Mondays to submit timesheets. The reduced travel and simplification of the IT application environment from 14 tools to one have added another $3 million in annual cost savings, for a total return of $5 million or a 12% ROI over three years.
ANAO’s implementation of Changepoint for PSA has exceeded the expectations of the organization, allowing ANAO’s team to become more efficient, more transparent and more effective. The organization has reduced the struggle to meet its audit schedules—indeed, projects are now coming in ahead of schedule. Pettigrove has been more than pleased with the Changepoint decision and the benefit the solution has brought to the organization. “We spend our days here at ANAO examining government operations and spending—deliberately seeking out inefficiencies and improving Public Administration. Three years ago, I would have given our own organization a big black X for project monitoring and decision making. Today, thanks to Changepoint, I’m happy to say we’ve earned a big green tick for performance.”