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HESTA sustains robust growth through a long-term technology partnership

Rapidly growing superannuation fund delivers superior member services by harnessing IT in new and innovative ways.

During 2013, HESTA’s senior management took the decision to undertake a strategic review of the organisation’s entire information technology strategy. The goal was to ensure that the resources in place could not only support current operations, but also scale to meet future demands.

During the review, it became clear that HESTA needed to partner with an external technology company that could provide the knowledge, guidance, and support it required.

“We knew we needed an organisation that shared our values of partnership, passion, and leadership,” says HESTA Senior Technology and Digital Strategist Peter Lawrence. “We also wanted a firm that could become a long-term, trusted partner.”

After conducting a thorough evaluation of technology service providers, HESTA made the strategic decision to partner with Tecala.

“The relationship commenced in an initial agreement aimed at supporting and enhancing our corporate IT support services,” explains Lawrence. “This agreement encompassed the deployment of a cutting-edge Virtual Data Centre infrastructure, which leveraged private cloud technology to host essential employee end-user computing services. Additionally, Tecala’s services were enlisted to modernise our LAN/WAN infrastructure and manage our Microsoft on-premise suites of services, forming the foundation of our technology-driven operational environment.”

“In our latest phase of development, HESTA has achieved a significant milestone by seamlessly migrating all on-premise Microsoft suites of services to Office365, thanks to Tecala’s expertise. This transition not only streamlines our operations, but also marks a pivotal step towards embracing cloud-native technologies. Concurrently, we are actively modernising the remaining smaller-scale services onto a cloud-native stack, further enhancing our agility and scalability,” he goes on to say.

A long-term working relationship

In 2015, when HESTA had around 100 staff, there was no official IT support team in place. Lawrence says jobs were handled by other staff “on a part-time basis as and when required.”

“Clearly this situation was unsustainable as we continued to grow,” he says. “It made our need for support from Tecala even more vital.”

Fast-forward to 2024 and the fund now has more than 600 staff across multiple locations in Australia. HESTA’s IT infrastructure has evolved from a relatively simple, on-premise architecture to one spanning private and public cloud platforms.

“This would simply not have been possible without Tecala’s support,” he says. “We have forged a long-standing relationship based on seamless collaboration and a strong cultural fit.”

In 2022, HESTA signed a new managed services agreement with Tecala that extended the relationship for another three years. The agreement further expands the scope of works, and will allow Tecala to provide additional support in a range of different areas.

“Normally, projects like these would take around 18 to 24 months to complete,” explains Lawrence. “But Tecala has been able to finish the work in just six months – a fantastic result for us.”

HESTA Senior Technology and Digital Strategist – Peter Lawrence

On-site support

A critical component of the new agreement is the continued provision of Tecala staff onsite at HESTA. Working as an extension of the in-house IT team, they undertake problem resolution and provide technical guidance as it’s required.

“We can bring in Tecala’s senior consultants to brainstorm ideas around technology and generally act as a sounding board for our internal strategic planning,” says Lawrence.

“It’s unrealistic for mid-size organisations like ours to have every field of IT expertise represented in house, so having Tecala on-hand to deliver ‘expertise on demand’ is a valuable option for HESTA.”

Lawrence says the support provided by Tecala on a day-to-day basis covers a range of different areas. These include everything from desktop and network support to application and data centre management. Tecala is also providing assistance focused on HESTA’s use of the Azure cloud platform.

Recent projects have included the deployment of the Slack productivity platform and the cloud-based digital workflow platform, ServiceNow. Both implementations have been completed seamlessly with no disruption to daily activity.

Security and regulatory compliance

For superannuation funds, the areas of security and regulation are critical. Member data must remain secure at all times and complex regulatory requirements need to be met.

“This is why we rely on partners, like Tecala, to help us navigate these complexities so we always arrive at the right outcomes,” says Lawrence.

He says this area was made more challenging because of ongoing changes to the regulations applying to the sector.

“We’re always reviewing, interpreting, and responding to changes as they come along, and APRA CPS 230 is a good example,” he says. “CPS 230 regulations will mean that we have a closer relationship with Tecala due to the critical services that they provide to us.”

“This is why we rely on partners, like Tecala, to help us to navigate these complexities so we always arrive at the right outcomes.”

HESTA Senior Technology and Digital Strategist – Peter Lawrence

“I can see there will be many other areas in which we can put AI to work in the future,” he says. “With Tecala as our ongoing technology partner, we are well placed to take advantage of this and other technologies as they evolve.”

HESTA Senior Technology and Digital Strategist – Peter Lawrence

Process automation and AI

Working closely with Tecala, HESTA is currently exploring the potential offered by the rapidly evolving areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Lawrence says the capabilities of the large-language models (LLMs) that underpin many of the tools make them particularly exciting.

“Already we are using ML for personalisation and investment analysis,” he says. “We can also see that LLMs and AI will be able to help us significantly reduce the time taken to undertake a range of administrative tasks.”

Rather than replacing staff, Lawrence says AI and ML will enhance human efforts, making people more productive and freeing them from tedious and repetitive tasks.

“Automation and AI will augment our people’s potential,” he says. “We’re not expecting jobs to go, but we are expecting them to change. We’re therefore ensuring that our people have the training and support to embrace automation and AI in the workplace, to ensure they can embrace all the opportunities it brings.”

As an example, Lawrence points to HESTA’s new onboarding platform. Powered by AI, the platform automates all the steps required to get a new staff member up and running. The platform can also streamline the processes required when a staff member leaves.

Tecala has played a pivotal role in helping HESTA achieve its technology goals, particularly when our in-house technology capability was limited. Our partnership has been instrumental in enhancing the employee experience, notably by helping us implement secure remote working arrangements and providing robust on-site support. In situations where our internal capabilities were limited, Tecala’s expertise and support have proven invaluable, ensuring the seamless operation of our technology infrastructure and empowering our workforce to perform at their best, regardless of location or circumstance.
Peter Lawrence
HESTA Senior Technology and Digital Strategist

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