Breadcrumb has been involved in a number of Power Apps projects with the Department of Environment and Science (DES) including new systems to support their recruitment process and to manage incidents.
This case study looks at the implementation of a new system in Microsoft’s Power Platform to replace a legacy application the department used to track the declaration and management of nature refuges and special wildlife reserves in Queensland that cover more than 4.47 million ha. Each of these must go through a rigorous evaluation process involving co-ordination across multiple departments, all managed in the system before being declared by legislation.
DES is responsible for the portfolios of environment, science and youth affairs. By being effective leaders and partners in managing, protecting and restoring Queensland’s natural environment and heritage, the department helps ensure the health and prosperity of current and future generations.
The department needed to replace their legacy Nature Refuge Business Centre system which was written using SQL Server (on prem) and .Net.
Dynamics was considered as a possible platform but DES determined that in the absence of a departmental license, the development of a one-off system was cost prohibitive.
The emergence of the Microsoft Power Platform offered a solution that uses much of the infrastructure used by Dynamics, but with lower development and licensing costs. DES put out an RFQ seeking a partner to help implement a solution and Breadcrumb was selected.
Meeting this challenge required:
- business analysis to identify, understand and articulate the requirements from the existing system, known new requirements, and opportunities presented by the new technology platform
- business analysis to translate these requirements for the technical experts
- Microsoft 365 and Power Platform experience to advise on how to set up the workspace to allow appropriate access to the solution while meeting privacy constraints
- Power Apps and Dataverse development experience to cater for the wide range of requirements
- an ‘Agile’ and flexible approach to development to allow for changing requirements as DES experienced early iterations of the solution and gained knowledge of the platform and its capabilities.
Key to the project’s success was that:
- DES established a primary point of contact within the team, minimising delays in getting information from the business, allowing easy coordination of testing and providing a central pathway for feedback to travel to and from Breadcrumb
- the DES project sponsor was involved weekly in project meetings, helping emphasise the project priority and ensuring business priorities were correct.
The approach was highly collaborative with Breadcrumb and DES working together to implement the following key stages of the project:
Development of a requirements document to fully capture the mandatory legislative and business processes. This document was structured to separate the requirements for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) from other lower priority requirements. An MVP approach ensured the project delivered mandatory components early while allowing space for improvements later.
The project next produced a design document, with high-level interface screens and navigation workshopped with the client. This enabled the team to meet departmental design guidelines and fit with known data and business requirements. It also described the data model, inherited from the old system but enhanced with new requirements and refined by removing old/unused tables.
Equipped with the design document, the team implemented the solution using Power Platform: Power Apps, Power Automate and Dataverse. A standard sprint approach was used, allowing feedback from earlier development to be added to the backlog and incorporated in upcoming sprints.
After the deployment of the MVP and other components in the first phase, DES decided to engage in a second round of development. This used the backlog developed in the first phase along with detailed feedback from users of the live product. This phase involved several sprints, developing the highest priority tasks in each sprint and feeding all new information into the next sprints depending on the ongoing experience.
The new system badged as the Private Protected Area Business Centre provides better functionality and is significantly easier to use than the old system, reducing the workload for staff with a number of quality-of-life improvements.
The solution is no longer hosted on unsustainable platforms and provides opportunity for growth in the future. The use of Dataverse and other standard Microsoft offerings allows for in-house maintenance and support, reducing the total cost of ownership over the longer term.
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