Television New Zealand

Introducing the new digital platform is running smoothly, thanks to the development of a complementary infrastructure.

Transforming production through technological and organisational change

Television New Zealand logo. A significant upgrade in technology at TVNZ has meant a transformational shift for the entire organisation, with marked implications for the staff and how the business operates.

Helen Clifton, Head of Production Services and Technology, says the organisation was operating with transmission technology and an organisational structure from the 1980s and 1990s – and the implementation of a new digital platform enabled TVNZ to build a modern infrastructure that was both progressive and future focused.

The changes were implemented during a two-year period, after one year of planning. Lindsay Chalmers, General Manager of Operations, says that before progressing to the project stage, it was critical they understood what was happening in the business and what the limitations were. In-depth investigations enabled them to construct a “current state” analysis. “And that information allowed us to develop a plan for how we wanted to operate in the future.”

Effectiveness is a fit-for-purpose solution that meets the intended business solutions. Efficiency is being able to manage a process with less cost or time, or both.

After the planning, implementation began with the writing of a request for proposal, says Mr Chalmers. “In essence, this was our open tender document seeking vendors capable of meeting our ‘future state’ proposal. We then went through an extensive selection process.”

A workflow was mapped, which was used to build the skill set required. Integration into TVNZ systems was also key to the success of the build, with a number of months spent in determining these touch points. As part of the transition to the digital infrastructure, a number of positions related to the previous analogue structure became superfluous and 28 FTE staff members from the media centre were made redundant. “Legacy” staff were kept on for several months while the new digital system was bedded in because “going from one transmission platform to the next cannot be done at the flick of a switch,” says Ms Clifton.

She says the rest of the staff were given extensive training to enable a multi-skilled workforce, a key facet of the new organisational infrastructure.

In the previous state, Mr Chalmers says staff worked in isolation both physically and in the workflow they used. “Our new systems not only allowed for collaboration in workflow, but demanded it for the efficiencies we were seeking. For this reason, we also completely redesigned the physical working environment. Our people are no longer isolated and enjoy their new workspace.”

He says the organisation has retained a constant focus on process improvement. “The team regularly suggest new ideas on how we can manage media assets and are rewarded for doing so. As an extension to this, a working party has continued to look at the wider business engagement in our new operational model and regularly meet with other linked business units to help embed the changes in operation.”

“The reason it’s been so successful is because it has ticked a whole lot of boxes,” says Ms Clifton.

She says the new collaborative, simultaneous approach has meant they can get content to the market quicker. Under the old system, it took 8 hours of effort to put 1 hour of television to air. With the new workflow it now takes 3.5 hours. They can also launch new channels in six weeks, as opposed to the six to nine months required in the past.

All business areas in the organisation can now access content on their desktops to view and contribute.

Because of the significant investment, an internal auditing process has been done, “and it has come through with flying colours,” says Ms Clifton. The audit team independently met with the teams operating the new systems and the customers of the system.

Ms Clifton advises any organisation approaching a significant change management process to be careful of people’s expectations. “Put maximum effort into planning and change management to enable a successful outcome,” she says.

Based on an interview with Helen Clifton, Head of Production Services and Technology, and Lindsay Chalmers, General Manager of Operations, on 15 June 2012.

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