One year, one big project

Written by Grant Longden

We started the last financial year by setting ourselves a big challenge – reimagining our core case management system.

Each year, Fair Way handles thousands of disputes and behind every dispute, lies our case management systems. These systems support our people to do the work we do every day and they enable us to effectively deliver our services to many New Zealanders. They are at the core of everything we do.  

We didn’t want to merely replace what we had with similar new platforms. We wanted to design and build new systems that would better support the future needs of our organisation. Our existing case management systems had served us well for the past seven years. However, as Fair Way grew and diversified, our needs developed, and we needed case management systems that could develop with us.

This was a big and ambitious project which would take up much of the focus for the Digital Team for the financial year. Taking inspiration from this whakatauki about new beginnings - tūngia te ururua, kia tupu whakaritorito te tupu o te harakeke - set the overgrown bush alight, and the new flax shoots will spring up - Project Harakeke was born.

Project Harakeke was about looking at what we need from our case management systems for the future. Getting here took a collaborative effort from across our organisation. It was a major focus for the Digital Team and required input during the design and development from our Resolution Coordinators and Resolution Practitioners, as well as external stakeholders such as ACC and our vendor partners.  The project team was made up of mainly internal people.  These people had a vested interest in doing the best job possible as they would be the ones supporting it going forward.

There were some challenges along the way. At a core stage in the project, the global pandemic emerged. With teams from Australia, the USA, Ukraine and our own NZ shores, we had to navigate lockdowns in four different nations. Like many other companies, we had 48 hours to enable the Fair Way team to work from home and establish a virtual office. All while undertaking one of the biggest IT projects an organisation can undertake.  We had many reasons to put the project on-hold but we pressed on as the project team had built up such a good momentum with our vendor, who we had developed an important partnership with.

Over 5,800 working hours went into this project! But the hard work paid off and despite the odds we completed a major IT project in very challenging conditions.  It was one massive team effort, which was supported by the whole company. Before going live, we arranged training and access for more than 120 people and migrated more than 1.5 million documents.

Engaging our people along the way was key. When it came time to name the new system, we put it out to the team who would be using it each day. From the 53 suggestions, a shortlist was created and the organisation voted. The winning suggestion was Kōwhai. The rationale behind the choice - "It refers to authority and powers held by people to whom we look to for help and life. We believe that when you give a Kōwhai tree to someone, you are showing you have trust in their abilities and judgement, and that you respect both them as a person and the choices they make. Also, it means yellow – which is a Fair Way colour."

So – here we are today! One year on, we have designed, implemented and migrated to new systems.  These new systems support our two biggest services as well as some critical internal support services.  We are now better positioned to support our growing business for many years to come. Now that this heavy lifting is completed, we are embarking on the next phase of our programme which will see the Case Management system expanded to include our Commercial Dispute Resolution offerings.

About the author

Grant Longden is Digital Manager at Fair Way.

He manages the Digital Team which consists of IT professionals specialising in various areas such as service desk, applications, infrastructure, security and business analysis. 

If you are interested in learning more about Fair Way’s digital services, please get in touch with Grant by emailing