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Article: In Victoria, providing for the safety of children requires integrated agile systems

At its core, the Victorian Institute of Teaching’s (VIT) primary function is to regulate members of the teaching profession. It plays a critical role in creating safe learning environments for children and young people by ensuring only qualified and suitable persons are registered to teach.

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As appeared in The Mandarin May 2022

At its core, the Victorian Institute of Teaching’s (VIT) primary function is to regulate members of the teaching profession. It plays a critical role in creating safe learning environments for children and young people by ensuring only qualified and suitable persons are registered to teach.

Continuous monitoring of their suitability is supported by an annual teacher registration process. With the complex data required to support and verify a growing teacher workforce in a rapidly changing regulatory landscape, the system managing teacher registration needs to be integrated, agile and responsive.

Until recently, that was not the case.

“Our registration system was operating on an outdated platform that was no longer supported, and customisations upon customisations had destabilised the system and made it hard to maintain,” Rory Townsend, VIT’s business systems manager, explained. “It was a frustrating experience for teachers and their employers, as they were diverted to numerous work-around solutions or help pages – all with different styles and unconnected resources. And managing this internally was a nightmare.”

In partnership with Brooke, who specialises in implementing complex business-wide change through digital transformation, VIT is now registering and managing teachers through a Salesforce solution – made agile and responsive using MuleSoft which integrates and automates business processes at the press of a button.

What was the challenge?

“One of our strategic objectives is to be a capable and high performing regulator,” Niall Beirne, VIT’s head of shared services, said. “And the aging infrastructure VIT was using prevented us from achieving that.”

The environment VIT operates in changes quickly; regulatory requirements are constantly evolving, as are the data points required to support registration processes. Being able to react and be proactive in support of new and emerging requirements was becoming difficult, and so a whole new approach was required.

We simply had to upgrade. It was time to move away from the old petrol vehicle towards a simpler, more efficient, all-electric system and stay current

Niall Beirne, VIT’s head of shared services

In going to market with its high-level user requirements, VIT was seeking a solution that would not just support registration and reporting processes, but would provide a secure environment, allow for greater staff flexibility, and be easy to manage.

“While we had great ideas from the beginning, it was only through many iterations of conversation, looking at the technology, and seeking input from subject matter experts that we came to be on the right path,” Beirne said. “As a result of the refinements, going to market and evaluating the tenders, we found our relationship with Brooke.”

Implementing a solution to meet needs, not wants

The requirements only took VIT part of the way through the process. With Brooke’s recommendation, a Salesforce workflow solution supported by a MuleSoft integrated architecture was developed.

MuleSoft was recommended for its ability to automate business processes and integrate data securely. Using an API-led approach, users can enable workflows and create reusable assets to access the right data that delivers fast and responsive IT and whole of business outcomes.

Through the design process, Beirne said “pretty significant changes” occurred that had little to do with the technology.

“This is where the relationship with the Brooke team defined itself. Their strength in collaboration and focus on customer centred design enabled us to quickly establish a partnership. Without Brooke, we would have got what we asked for, but not what we actually needed.”

Today VIT is managing teacher registration using a “highly configurable” Salesforce product.

“On the front end, it’s a modern user portal for teachers and employers to submit applications, view the status of activities, as well as submit queries and get responses,” Beirne explained. “On the back end, MuleSoft allows regular data exports connected through an API to run checks and verifications. Not only have these data exports significantly increased productivity, they were extremely simple to set up.”

The VIT has worked through hundreds of small enhancements and fixes over the past year, supported by Brooke with on-the-job Salesforce and MuleSoft training to become self-sufficient users.

The way we designed the system combined with our desire to become self-sufficient has allowed us to implement all these enhancements in the relatively short time we have had the system. We’ve learned how to re-use a number of APIs, and it is no longer a hugely specialised job to make system modifications.

Rory Townsend, VIT’s business systems manager

With the guidance of Brooke, VIT has also introduced a continuous improvement process, allowing a change advisory board to review suggestions and opportunities for improvements – and enabling continuous evolution to drive improved outcomes for teachers and better meet VIT’s regulatory objectives.

Now, Beirne said, the system “flows”.

“And indeed, if any new changes are required, they can be easily inserted while maintaining the overall flow and positive user experience. It gives us a broad scope to improve even further as needs change or as we identify new opportunities to improve the solution.”

Future proofing teacher registration

For VIT, the new system means it can now focus on enhancing outcomes that create a safe learning environment for students.

“The new system allows us to focus on our important child safety obligations – screening for teacher suitability matters and disclosable court outcomes – rather than being forced to allocate time and resources administering the old clunky registration system.” Townsend said VIT can now focus on supporting teachers, and assessing new applicants for the right qualifications and validate all of their credentials.”

During annual registration period, the system can be configured to support higher usage as well as adjust parts of the process that create confusion for users. Teachers are also supported with more timely and accurate communication, thanks to the ability to segment the database to enable targeted messages.

“To a certain extent, our investment has future-proofed us,” Beirne said. “We did not have the flexibility to change in the past. Any new regulatory requirements would have been a major upheaval for the business. However, due to the way the new system was structured, initiatives such as the license number requirement to meet the new Document Verification Service (DVS) standard, in order to validate an applicant’s identity, is something that we can build and support relatively easily – enabled by MuleSoft.”

During the past 12 months, the system has proven its ability to easily integrate major enhancements as well as many minor adjustments. As the partnership between VIT and Brooke continues, the hope for VIT is that it can continue to deliver on a key strategic priority of being a capable and high performing regulator.

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