OFLC achieves greater efficiency through automated process tools

The Office of Film & Literature Classification (OFLC) was established in 1993 as the Government body responsible for providing and communicating impartial classification decisions and information services.

OFLC classifies publications according to the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and associated Regulations. Datacom have worked closely with OFLC since 2007, with the release in the production environment of the full software solution in December 2008. Six years later Datacom continues to provide support services as part of the SLA.

The Challenge

After over a decade of operation, OFLC found their existing systems insufficient, unreliable and time consuming for meeting their Government mandated reporting requirements and publication classification timeliness standards.  OFLC operated with multiple different systems which included a classification application and database, a publicly accessible database of decisions and document, paper records, word documents and excel spreadsheets. There was no single version of the truth with variances between duplicated sources of information, held in these different systems. 

OFLC needed a robust, flexible solution to manage the business processes and reporting involved in the classification of publications.  The monthly output that listed all classification decisions made for the previous month was challenging and time consuming to produce.  It required a FTE to manually print and check each publication decision.  These were then collated, indexed and made into a print file List of Decisions (LOD) for printing and distribution to external organisations.

Another challenge was to seamlessly integrate the word processing functions (Microsoft Word) into the solution so that multiple decision documents and correspondence could be generated and managed using protected data from one source.  OFLC required that information when updated was to be applied in real time to all relevant classification decision documents.  

The Solution

Datacom worked collaboratively with OFLC, and assisted with identifying and documenting all current business processes.  This was completed as a precursor to assisting OFLC to define detailed business requirements which were used to develop the new classification application.  The business processes were the basis for the development of the streamlined and robust workflow centric web application. 

The new application was developed using ASP.NET, SQL Server. WebDav and K2.net Black Perl Enterprise Workflow.  The combination of these tools supported:

  • The flexibility required for recording of publication information and the resulting classification decisions. Users were able to record basic data and then build the data up as the classification proceeded.
  • Automated external notifications and monthly reporting functions.   The solution also automated the generation of LOD which is a document that is published detailing all classification decisions made in the previous month. 

The K2 workflow also provided management and staff with a real time view of the work on hand.   The application also provided full UI functionality that allowed OFLC administers to manage all user permissions, reference data and the ability to generate ad hoc reports.

With the success of a number of iterations, OFLC asked Datacom to provide:

  • A front end web application where the public could search for and view all classification decisions made.   
  • A mechanism to rationalise and migrate all existing publication decisions and documents held into the new application database structure. 

This was to replace aging technology and was required to surface all completed classification decisions including decisions made prior to the establishment of OFLC.  This additional work extended the initial project timeline by 6 months and increased the overall cost of the project.

The Technologies

The implementation of the Classification Database Application (CDA) and the public facing (CDA-X) software solution. Specifically this included, ASP.NET, SQL Server, WebDav, K2.net Black Perl Enterprise Workflow.

The Partnership

The OFLC project team and the Datacom team worked collaboratively, providing stability for the duration of the project, including PM, Architect, Developer, BA and testers.  As a result there was an extremely strong sense of ownership for all involved creating a great outcome.  The Office had a high degree of trust in the advice and expertise of the Datacom team.  It was essential to have intensive involvement of subject matter experts with the authority to make decisions on both process and expenditure.  

“Due to the close working relationship between the Office and Datacom, we were able to develop a good understanding of the application’s structure, design and functionality, which is ongoing six years later.”

Julia Ewing-Jarvie - Corporate Services Manager, OFLC

The Results

The project provided a number of expected and unexpected results as follows:

Expected Results:

  • Timeliness standards (SLA) exceeded only once since the system went live and this was due to the 2013 earthquake where the office building was ‘red stickered’ due to damage and staff had to relocate. 
  • A 10 percent reduction in staffing levels.  This was due to a large number of previously manual tasks being automated and reduced error rates in publication data. 
  • Operational printing and postage costs reduced by in excess of 50 percent.  This was due to a decreased error rate in decision documents. Monthly LOD reports are now being generated in electronic format.
  • Staff and public were able to search for publications and associated decisions for both current and historical records using a number of search criteria.  This reduced the amount of time previously taken to find publication information and decisions.

Unexpected Results:

  • A 96 percent reduction in the number of corrigendum required to be created to correct published classification decisions.  This was attributed to there now being only one source of information.
  • A reduction by 1/3 of the time and effort required to complete their monthly billing.
  • With the introduction of automated reporting, there was an 80 percent reduction in the time taken to carry out Board and Ministerial reporting functions.
  • A reduction in time and resources required to support the annual Audit as the solution provided a mechanism to prove reporting results. 
  • Compliance with the Public Records Audit requirement for management of electronic data.  OFLC have been advised by Archives New Zealand that the current solution meets the meta-data standards and that no additional work is required to meet this standard.