Dept. of Human Services |Platform Consolidation

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is the largest state department in Victoria. It funds and delivers community services to thousands of Victorians each year in need.

Key to the department’s success is the careful management of funds and efficient operation. In 2014 it was determined that major efficiencies could be gained by consolidating 5 separate DHS sites. Content and resources were duplicated across the sites, and costs were unnecessarily high through the provision of services by separate vendors for each site. As time went on these costs escalated and created a resourcing crises.

Technocrat took on the challenge of migrating all 5 sites to the Drupal platform.

manningham council

The Challenge

The sites to be migrated to a single entity were:
Youth Central,
Disability,
Volunteer,
Not For Profit (NFP), and
Child Protection.
Key challenges included:
These websites were managed by different vendors - greatly complicating communication, technologies and data types,
There was a significant and disparate amount of documentation on the various systems - making the job of finding and consolidating key details more difficult,
There were many stakeholders involved, both in DHS and existing system vendors - making the job of navigating decisions much more challenging.

Our solution

Based on requirements, Drupal was chosen as the best platform for migrating the sites. Key reasons included:
Open source is dramatically more cost effective than proprietary systems. Open source licensing is free, whilst proprietary systems often cost hundreds of thousands for an organisation the size of DHS.
Regular content editing was required by a host of different people - each with a range of technical abilities. Drupal allows for rich approval mechanisms and is easy to use - making it idea.

Based on each DHS sub area requiring it's own identity, yet with content commonality, a Drupal multi-site structure was selected. This meant multiple front-ends, but with a single database backend for ease of maintenance, low cost, and reuse of content.

In addition to the original brief, extra work was performed which enhanced the ultimate user experience. Whilst the original brief only required migration to a single system, it was soon identified that opportunities lay in making the system fully responsive, and for the migrated content to be carefully analysed and processes - leading to ease of navigation. Because this work was considered so important to Technocrat, it was performed at Technocrat's cost within the existing budget. DHS were very grateful for the extra assistance and consideration.

Dept. of Human Servicesfull image

The Results

Despite the many challenges and extra work performed, Technocrat successfully migrated all 5 sites to a new single system within time and budget.

With the multi-site structure chosen, DHS now had hardware costs which were 20% of the original, yet they could add content in one place, and have it appear in all 5 front-end sites simultaneously if required.

Key achievements included:
The solution was highly robust and easily scalable.
Custom development for each site allowed for richer functionality yet page load times were kept at less than a second.
Acquia, Technocrat’s hosting partner, gave the new sites a rating of A+ - which is rare.
The sites were made fully accessible, so all people, including those with disabilities, could benefit from the sites and associated services.

Skills Utilised

  • Drupal 7 core API
  • Drupal 7 site building
  • Drupal 7 custom module development
  • Content deployment
  • Drupal multisite
  • PHP
  • RESTful services
  • Responsive theming
  • Vagrant
  • Acquia Dev desktop
  • CI
  • Blazemeter
  • Acquia
  • Memcached
  • Varnish
  • Apache
  • Drush
  • Github
  • DevOps
  • mySQL
  • Front-end development (HTML, CSS, Sass, JavaScript)
  • Backend development