Empowering the Ministry of Education to get Kiwi kids to school safely

Main banners Ministry of Education v3

The challenge

Every day, over 100,000 students around New Zealand rely on transport services delivered through the Ministry of Education to get to school safely. To deliver this essential public service, the Ministry uses a complex school transport resourcing system that ensures every eligible child gets the assistance they need, while also managing 8000 contracted service providers. However, their existing system relied on ageing technology that was no longer supported, leading to increasing technical and business risks. The Ministry turned to Optimation to develop a new School Transport Resourcing Administration System (STRAS) that meets current business requirements while also being flexible enough to adapt to future change.

Our approach

Over 18 months, Optimation worked with the Ministry to develop and deploy a STRAS solution that is robust, extensible and designed to address both current and future needs. We took a true partnership approach, collaborating closely with all stakeholders to refine requirements as these changed in response to shifting business demands, and to balance additional features and enhancements with cost-benefits.

The system we built smoothly incorporates very complex business rules for managing transport routes, tracking student eligibility and managing provider contractors. In addition, it accurately calculates and processes payments amounting to $175m per annum across providers who service both mainstream and special needs students. Providers include buses, taxi operators, and private caregivers, and in some cases, payments are also made directly to schools or communities who operate their own transport. STRAS can handle a variety of payment types, from per-kilometre reimbursement through to quarterly or annual lump sums.

Optimation Support provides on-going application support and enhancements, including streamlining of business processes and workflows.

 Infographic Ministry of Education v2

The outcome

By ensuring eligible students get the transport they need, STRAS helps the Ministry fulfil a core mission to effectively deliver programmes and services that improve the community’s knowledge of and participation in the education system. The Ministry valued Optimation’s business outcomes approach, as well as our ability to work in a highly collaborative manner that fit their business culture.

Cohesive and holistic solution design, combined with better extensibility, ensures STRAS will have a long life. The development also created the opportunity to automate a number of previously manual business processes and workflows, and to incorporate additional quality checks and approvals. This has reduced business risk and brought productivity benefits for the Ministry while allowing staff to focus their efforts on value-added tasks.

Future-proof technology design 

The Ministry already had a major investment in Microsoft technologies along with plenty of organisational knowledge and experience. To leverage this existing capability we used the latest Microsoft .NET application environment and Microsoft ASP.NET MVC Framework for developing scalable, standards-based web applications.

A key requirement was to make STRAS intuitive and easy to use, so Optimation’s developers worked with a third-party user experience team on aspects of front-end design. We also used technologies including Javascript to enhance responsiveness and give the STRAS application a more dynamic look-and-feel.

Ready for better business?