After using paper diaries and Excel spreadsheets to manage bookings for over 150 courtrooms across NSW, the NSW Department of Communities and Justice decided it was time to go digital.
The department engaged Cloud Collective partner, Antares, who deployed a consultant to work onsite, and employed an agile approach to develop, test and deploy a successful digital solution within 4 months.
About the NSW Department of Communities and Justice
The NSW Department of Communities and Justice (previously the Department of Justice) is a state government department.
They are responsible for the NSW justice system, including:
- crime-related matters
- courts and tribunals
- corrective services
- youth justice
- community consultations
The department supports individuals and families in NSW through law enforcement and reform. They also deliver a variety of programs to assist in early intervention and inclusion for at-risk people in the community.
A legacy approach to courtroom bookings was inefficient and difficult to manage
The NSW Department of Justice (the department) manages more than 150 courtrooms across the state. 20-odd government departments vie for these courtrooms, with staff required to call the court every time they wanted to make a booking.
Shyam, Technical Business Analyst for the department, says the process was time consuming and inefficient.
“When any of the courts (supreme, local or district) needed a courtroom to hear a matter, they had to physically call the courts to ask if a room was available. The court registrar would then look in their paper diary to see if there was availability.
“If, for example, a department wanted to book early because they needed a courtroom for 3 days in the following year, the person at the court may not have their diary for the following year yet so couldn’t take the booking.
“There was no technology solution to aid the departments, and no one could see the availability of all courtrooms at any given time. This was particularly difficult for someone who needed several courtrooms across multiple jurisdictions, as the only way to do this was to call every court individually.”
Shyam says other issues included:
- miscommunication when bookings had to be changed
- poor utilisation of some courtrooms
- inability to identify resources across courtrooms (i.e. disabled access, AV equipment)
In need of a solution that would address all these issues, the department reached out to a number of vendors.
“We selected Antares as we had worked with them before, and they were able to deliver a solution that met our time and budget constraints. After we had our initial meeting and saw a demo of the potential prototype, we decided to move forward with development.”
Antares develops, tests and deploys a fit for purpose solution in less than 4 months
The Antares team developed an achievable plan with prioritised inclusions, and deployed a consultant to work onsite, closely with the department’s internal technical team.
The solution both technically aligned with the department’s cloud security & architecture platform roadmap, along with cloud best practices:
- Architected and deployed for the Azure Cloud platform
- Modern React UI and .NET Core web frameworks
- Leverage existing secure Okta Identity Management
Tenzin Lama, Project Manager for Antares, says “We followed a highly agile approach, which included prioritising and documenting requirements and then moving into development springs. At the end of each sprint we would review and showcase progress, then collaborate with stakeholders so we could plan for the next one.
“After the app was complete, we conducted user testing. The feedback was very positive, and people liked that it was so easy to use. We then engaged a third-party for penetration testing to ensure the environment was highly secure. The final stage was production, and then the live link was shared with all relevant users.”
Shyam says the new application gave departments a new level of access and simplicity of booking that was previously impossible.
“The digital system helps us track infrastructure capabilities, control what’s available and what’s not, and see how certain courtrooms are being utilised. Most importantly, it has empowered the departments to see what’s available for book directly online, with an integrated 2-step approval process so that courtroom registrar can validate the booking.”
A user-friendly digital capability has revolutionised courtroom bookings for the department
Since the app has gone live the department has experienced a multitude of benefits, including:
- vastly improved courtroom booking experience
- total visibility of all courtrooms and their resources
- ability to schedule recurring bookings with a single click
- improved governance of bookings and data privacy
- easy way to add or remove resources
- ability to limit user permissions
- an inbuilt approval process to validate bookings
- automatic conflict flagging
- search functionality to assist with courtroom selection
“We completed the project in less than 4 months and received great feedback from users and the client,” says Tenzin. “We made the branding, user experience and interface very similar to other apps they use to ensure consistency and drive user adoption. And because the app was so intuitive, users were able to adapt faster.”
Halle, Project Manager for the department, says “We’ve been using the application for almost a year now. After moving through the change management process, we’ve heard very positive feedback – especially in relation to court bookings during COVID when everything moved online.”
“The adoption rate has been good, and it’s great that our data analytics teams can now evaluate courtroom utilisation, resources, and other valuable data,” says Shyam.
Of working with Antares, Shyam says “Our project manager was approachable and friendly which was really important. The developer who worked onsite also did a really good job, and I felt that we worked very well together.”
”We genuinely worked together to achieve a great result. The Antares team weren’t afraid to pull their sleeves up, and I hope that we may work together again in the future.”
Shyam, Technical Business Analyst for the NSW Department of Justice