Sport New Zealand is the kaitiaki (guardian) of the play, active recreation and sport system in Aotearoa New Zealand.
As a crown agency, they promote and support quality experiences in play, active recreation and sport, including elite sport, to improve levels of physical activity and, through this, ensure the greatest impact on wellbeing for all New Zealanders. They believe that growing the quality of participation opportunities helps to maximise wellbeing and feeds the pathway to elite sport, and our success on the world stage in turn helps to inspire participation.
The Sport NZ Group (SNZ Group) comprises Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sport NZ), and its wholly owned subsidiary High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ).
Foundations and Insights
The SNZ Group have developed their future vision, encapsulated in their guiding principles ‘Towards 2032 – Strategic Direction.’ As part of this, they have identified the value of data and using insights to guide decision making and to improve performance and results.
Sport NZ and Montage first started a partnership in 2017. Sport NZ conducts periodic nationwide surveys of sport and activity participation. They had a vision for broader use of the resulting data, Sport NZ knew what data they were collecting and had a vision of where they wanted to go and to do with it, but lacked a platform to enable this, nor the internal structures for governing the execution of the vision.
Initially, Montage worked with Sport NZ to create the Sport NZ Insights Tool to help guide decision making in the sport and recreation sector.
Montage then implemented a data warehouse to transform, model and prepare the data from the disparate Sport NZ data sources, ready for analysis and sharing with their stakeholders.
Efforts to increase group-wide business intelligence (BI) capability was interrupted by COVID in 2019, however Sport NZ and HPSNZ recognised the value of BI and analytics and continued with a strategy process with Montage. This led to the initiation of a BI ‘discovery’ process in early 2020.
Discovery and Platform
This discovery uncovered the opportunity for SNZ and HPSNZ to create shared capability, shared processes and shared tools and to deepen their expertise in pockets of excellence.
Both organisations benchmarked their current state of people, process and technology maturity, defined their desired future state and created roadmaps (BI programme plans) to close gaps and move towards the desired future.
This led to the introduction of a modern data platform. Sport NZ and Montage worked together to establish an architecture that leveraged the Sport NZ Azure cloud and established the Snowflake cloud data platform.
A BI governance function was created to ensure work was jointly prioritised, controlled and governed. The governance team matured rapidly and identified the growing importance of implementing a data governance and management framework to encompass data, business intelligence and analytics.
The governance team, which had members from Sport NZ, HPSNZ and Montage, refined an international best practice data governance model and adapted it into the New Zealand context, by utilising a bi-cultural development process, which directly addresses Māori data sovereignty.
Sport NZ and HPSNZ wanted to ensure that BI and analytic outputs continued to be delivered, whilst taking greater governance and control. To achieve this, Sport NZ, HPSNZ and Montage introduced a project portfolio management (PPM) framework and Sport NZ engaged an interim BI Project Manager.
BI initiatives are now briefed, scoped, prioritised, executed and closed within the PPM framework, which is reported to and governed by the BI governance function.
Strategy and the Elevation of Governance
The governance team identified the need to elevate BI and analytics, support the collaboration between SNZ and HPSNZ and develop a Group BI Strategy.
The strategy creation and output reflected Te Tiriti commitments by adopting a co-creation process between Māori, HPSNZ and SNZ, with specialist external advisory from Montage (BI, analytics and governance) and Peter Akuhata (Māori data sovereignty and governance).
The group strategy developed a unifying purpose statement and vision for BI and analytics, recommended a group BI function be formed, that the BI (data) governance framework and management model be adopted organisationally, and that a refreshed governance group be established. The Business Intelligence Governance Group (BIGG) has Executive membership, reflecting the importance of data, BI and analytics to the organisation.
Reflections and Results
A Group BI function has now been created, with Bria Sargent as the group BI Manager and Bridgette Lynch as BI Specialist.
Bria and Bridgette say,
“Together we have moved from ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ to ‘we know what we need to do and we get insights from our data’.”
Eight years ago, data security was not widely discussed, but privacy, security and data management are now vital. As a government organisation, Sport NZ must demonstrate they proactively manage the data we hold. Information is now clearly version controlled, with an agreement of what is the ‘single source of truth’.
Rather than projects using different methods and tools, Sport NZ now have a cohesive portfolio of projects, collectively governed with consistent data collection, for example a drop-down gender question shows the same options across all data-collection. This improves the participant’s experience and means the data is much easier to utilise.
The team says once the data catalogue is completed, they will have visibility and an understanding of all the data they hold, how it is stored and used.
They now have good processes in place across the data lifecycle which has helped them understand their system needs and create efficiencies. Potential overlap between projects can be identified, resources scheduled and priorities identified.
BI has gone from the ‘side of Bridgette’s desk’ to being an organisation-wide initiative. They say Duncan's experience was pivotal in getting buy-in across the business; helping them frame the benefits and scope appropriately.
“Getting that buy-in has been huge,” says Bridgette. Fundamentally, Sport NZ Group and their wider sporting communities now have better insights into the participation of sports around the country; this helps with decision making and prioritisation.
Bria and Bridgette agree that the whole team and support from Montage have been vital:
“Montage have stayed with us and have grown with us and stayed with us on the journey,”
says Bridgette. Bria adds,
“They have given us guidance in how to do it and confidence we were doing it right.
We now have a much better ROI (return on investment) on our investment into data gathering.”
“Montage have stayed with us and have grown with us and stayed with us on the journey,” says Bridgette. Bria adds, “They have given us guidance in how to do it and confidence we were doing it right. We now have a much better ROI (return on investment) on our investment into data gathering.”Bria Sargent and Bridgette Lynch
Group BI Manager and BI Specialist
SNZ and HPSNZ are excited about the power of data and driving better insights, better decisions, and better performance. The increased use and expansion of the “sport data cloud” within Snowflake will open opportunities for analysis, analytics and (secure) sharing of data between national sporting organisations, SNZ, HPSNZ, coaches, athletes and other stakeholders.
Success on the world stage and participation in sport to maximise wellbeing is all underpinned by data. Opportunities to innovate and improve across that critical relationship will be achieved because of BI.