NZ competition watchdog to ditch spreadsheets for CRM system

The commission is looking for a CRM system to streamline and upgrade its reporting and data-analysis capabilities for managing stakeholders.

crm customer relationship management
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Time's up for using spreadsheets to manage stakeholders at the New Zealand Commerce Commission. It has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to replace its current system of disparate documentation.

"The Commission currently holds stakeholder contact details and information in a series of spreadsheets managed by different teams throughout the branches (business groups). A central 'key' stakeholder spreadsheet is held by the Communications team for stakeholder events and other high-level organisation wide communications," the RFP notes.

This has created a number of issues for the Commission, such as there being no single source of truth, inconsistent and out of date information, risk of duplication and conflicted information, and reputational issues "from the Commission appearing disjointed as contact information is out of date and there is no central database of interactions to refer to."

Commission regulates utilities, dairy, airports

As an independent Crown entity, the Commission is responsible for enforcing laws relating to competition, fair trading, and consumer credit contracts. It also has specific regulatory oversight into the electricity lines, gas pipelines, telecommunications, dairy and airport sectors. It has three branches – competition and consumer, regulation, and organisation performance.

The Commission doesn't have an IT department, instead it has an Information Services team, which comprises three teams: a technical services team which has six staff comprised of helpdesk and system engineers; a knowledge and Information team that has four staff who manage its records, library and research; and a business solutions team of seven who provide application support and manage the information systems projects for the Commission.

According to the RFP document, a stakeholder management tool would be expected to support between 220 and 300 users, but as to how many stakeholders there are, that isn't as clear-cut.

"The Commission engages with a wide range of stakeholders across our work, some are ongoing relationships while others are one off engagements based on a particular topic. It is difficult to put an exact number on it, but a recent survey sent to stakeholders had almost 1,000 recipients," a spokesperson told Computerworld New Zealand.

Data collection to comply with Privacy Act

The information about stakeholders and their interactions with the Commission that are likely to be contained in the management tool - as outlined in the RFP - are extensive, but all data collected will need to comply with the new Privacy Act that comes in effect in December. Here are just some of the requirements one section "Stakeholder information":

  • Import stakeholder records from other sources (e.g. excel files)
  • Capture the engagement approach or plan - strategy for different stakeholder levels
  • Create stakeholders from Streamline/ServiceNow entity records
  • Record the structure of an organisation (departments, business units, individuals, etc.)
  • Set optional alternative contacts
  • Flag individuals that should not be contacted for an organisation
  • Scan in business cards
  • Add an organisational stakeholder plan/strategy
  • Flag a stakeholder as a strategic priority for the Commission
  • Create other relationship / interaction links between stakeholders
  • Set tiers for stakeholders that indicate importance/influence/impact/other factors as needed
  • Add structured and unstructured tags to stakeholders

Among the benefits sought by upgrading to a new stakeholder management system are reporting and data analysis. Computerworld New Zealand asked if the Commission will be signing up to the Government's new Algorithm Charter. This commits signatories to being mindful about how algorithms are used. Specifically, they are expected to strike the right balance between privacy and transparency, prevent unintended bias, and reflect the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"The Commission only became aware of the charter on 4 August 2020. Information about the charter will be referred to our senior leadership team to consider whether the Commission will sign up," said the spokesperson.

In early August the Commission released two reviews into a security incident in October 2019 caused by the theft of computer equipment. In response, Commission Chair Anna Rawlings noted the Commission is "embarking on a broad ranging information management and security programme, to help ensure that those we interact with can continue to have confidence in our ability to protect confidential and commercially sensitive information provided to us."

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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