Transforming Queensland State Archives

For the last two years, we have been quietly working (along with our consortium partners from Hudson Molonglo and Recordkeeping Innovation) through the Digital Archiving Program (DAP), to implement a new Archival Management System for the Queensland State Archives (QSA).

The internal Archival Management System (ArchivesSpace) went live at the end of June, along with a new public interface for searching the archives (ArchivesSearch), and a new system to support Queensland agencies (ArchivesGateway).  Now that the systems are delivered, we’ve even delivered several additional releases under the ongoing support model, which has seen us improve the systems already.

The project has been a transformative one for QSA, moving them from their previous Archives One system into the open-source system ArchivesSpace, plus the new ArchivesSearch and ArchivesGateway.  Along the way, they have been working with our consortium on reviewing their business practices and making sure that the system is fit for purpose.  It’s been fantastic to have the QSA staff (and the DAP team) engaged so strongly in an Agile project, which has meant we can realise many different benefits along the way by pivoting where needed.  Combining that Agile approach with a good preparatory phase and a good delivery phase at each end has seen this combined Waterfall/Agile approach work really well.

We have also delivered the project to the agreed budget and timeframe.  This in itself has been a major win for us, our consortium, and for the client as well.  This was only possible by working on a project of this scale in a very open, honest and highly collaborative way with the team at QSA and the DAP team specifically – I am certain that without this the project would not have been delivered on time and budget.

Lessons learned from this project were many and varied, and they range from tiny little ones to major ones – all part of the wonderful experience of a truly collaborative approach with the client where really, it felt like we were all pulling towards the end goal of the delivered systems instead of that sometimes fraught “customer-supplier” relationship that can happen in consulting.  Following on from an upcoming publication from QSA themselves, we will also be publishing a “reflection piece” on our blog about the project, covering these lessons.

It’s been a massive project, and I am standing on the shoulders of many people who put in a lot of work on this project, right across the project teams.  There are numerous “thank you” messages to people right across this project, from our team at Gaia Resources (including those who have since left) who worked long hours when needed, to our consortium partners who continue to assist and work with us on other projects, to our clients in both the DAP and QSA teams, who worked with us in the most collaborative, open, honest and constructive manner from the very first days of the project.

On a very personal note, I have to also thank the State of Queensland – who put their faith into three small businesses and has allowed us to establish Gaia Resources in Queensland, generate a number of jobs for the State, and to provide a solid base from which we can continue to develop our business and deliver on our mission at Gaia Resources – to make the world a better place.  Making archives available to the public in a rich way helps to make the information on our past available – and gives us an opportunity to learn from the past and improve into the future.

We look forward to working further with the QSA, supporting their systems, and working with them on other initiatives such as Q-Album (read more about that in Sarah’s last blog). Through our work, we are proud to support them in their mission and to help them achieve their vision, “To inspire all Queenslanders to discover the stories contained within the record of the Queensland Government – anytime, anywhere.”

We’re really proud to see our work contribute to this vision and we’d love to talk more about it with you if you are interested – please don’t hesitate to drop me a line personally, or give me a call on 0411 754 006.

Piers

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