From 20,000 to zero – emerging technology making work easier

Find out why the Venture Capital Reporting and Analytics system (VeRA) was a winner at the Australian Government Digital Awards. 

5 people in front of a plant wall. One is holding an award.
Caption: Representatives from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science celebrate their win.

As we continue to recognise the great work being done across government in digital transformation, we will showcase each of the Digital Awards winners over the next few weeks. You’ll see what they worked on, and what set them apart from the competition.

VeRA, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

The Venture Capital Reporting and Analytics system (VeRA) from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, won the award for outstanding use of emerging technology.

VeRA is the reporting system for the Australian Government Venture Capital tax concession programs. These programs aim to attract domestic and foreign investment. They currently administer $13.8 billion of committed capital. The emerging technology category required nominees to not only use emerging technology, but for it to be re-usable, user-centred and adopt industry and government standards and protocols. VeRA exceeded all these criteria.

Using emerging technology

VeRA uses Power BI desktop — an emerging technology within the Australian Public Service — to create data models and reports, which the team publishes to PowerBI.com. They can then access the reports securely. Using best-practice design to build a robust and scalable system, they made sure the system had source control, and documented everything to keep their solution future-proof.

The department chose Power BI to make future development flexible. While VeRA uses a SQL database, this may not always be the case. There are other datasets that would be beneficial to include with the current data, such as program data from other departments and Australian Business Number (ABN) data. Power BI has many connection methods, so the team can add other datasets and systems to make VeRA even more effective.

Powerful user benefits

Before VeRA, the team in the Venture Capital section used a range of products for data collection and storage, like spreadsheets and text documents. Manual data entry required lots of investment in people, and data was not very current. Reporting on the data was difficult to say the least.

VeRA has had a dramatic impact on the team. They’ve been able to:

  • reduce manual data entry requiring 20,000 steps to zero
  • automate reports and checks to track program integrity in real-time
  • remove data repository duplication so they can trust the data
  • published program data on industry.gov.au in a Power BI dashboard to help users

Technology, standards and protocols

The department designed and built VeRA following the Digital Service Standard.

A multi-disciplinary team of developers and users developed VeRA , with ongoing communication to make sure the final product met the needs of users. Using Agile methodologies, the team delivered components of VeRA as they were ready. They regularly tested the design of the menu system and visualisations in reports with users to make them accessible.

We thank all nominees for this Award. It’s great to see digital transformation taking place across federal, state, and local government.

For any questions about the Awards, please email awards@dta.gov.au

Steve Hibbins is a content designer at the DTA. Nicole Murphy is an event manager at the DTA.