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HRINZ Conference 2004 Shifting the Thinking
HRINZ Conference 2004 Shifting the Thinking
next practice in people management

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concurrent workshops (HR Interactions)

Malcolm Perry, IT Manager; Pete Evans, eBusiness Manager; Inez Romanos, Intranet Publisher; Lynley Sinclair, HR Manager

D1 Building the Heart of a Communications Matrix: the Tabnet case study

Malcolm Perry, IT Manager; Pete Evans, eBusiness Manager; Inez Romanos, Intranet Publisher; Lynley Sinclair, HR Manager
The New Zealand Racing Board

How do you take an organisation with staff performing an enormous diversity of roles, in geographically scattered and changing locations, with a long history of difficulty in maintaining communications links, and the consequent problems with morale and uniformity of operations… and turn its communications around in six months?

The New Zealand Racing Board launched its intranet on 1 September 2003, having begun its development only in April. The New Zealand Racing Board is the organisation that runs the TAB
betting agency and is responsible for building the profitability of the New Zealand racing sector of the New Zealand economy.

This session will trace the intranet’s development and launch, and the key considerations at technological, strategic, organisational and operational levels that have made it such an effective tool and outstanding success.

The site’s objective was to address poor communications and their impact on business operations, morale and co-operation. The intranet has turned this situation around in short order, becoming the heart of a structured, consistent and effective matrix of internal communications. It has unified delivery of messages and key business information to all corners of the business, by:

  • Sharing news interactively
  • Making centralised, consistent information readily available throughout the organisation
  • Promoting the sharing of information and business knowledge
  • Streamlining business processes and administration, with impact on our bottom line.
  • Underpinning our community spirit

Session Indicator




All levels

Grunt Factor: 

Hard business




Presentation 70%; Q&A 20%; forum10%




The cornerstone of this initiative’s success is its involvement of a team of experts from
throughout the business whose perspectives and skills complement each other. They are from the marketing, IT and communications parts of the business as well as HR. These are the people who would present; the strengths they bring to the project itself are reflected in what they bring to the session.

Internal communication is typically the Cinderella of business communications, and a frequent complaint of staff in many settings is, “we’re the last to know”, “we read it in the newspaper”, or “nobody ever tells us anything”.

To combat the “mushroom syndrome”, many organisations are embracing online technology and building intranets. They can provide a central location for all the news and information to be shared among all staff; they can enable staff to communicate with each other and construct a sense of community people; and with the inclusion of even simple online tools, they can dramatically streamline business processes, saving time, simplifying processes, and impacting on the bottom line.

Such is the interest in this relatively new form of internal business communication that UK-based
knowledge management consultants Ark Group conference has run a series of conferences in Australia and New Zealand on the subject. Four organisations at each event have presented their intranets, in a forum-style setting aimed for those at every stage of intranet development, from “what are these things?” through “do we want one?” to “how shall we do it?” and “now where from here?”.

The New Zealand Racing Board presented at events in Auckland and Wellington, to delegates from around the country and throughout New Zealand industry and administration. Our workshop was warmly received and sparked lively, useful discussion. We would like to pass the value of this event onto HRINZ members.

All four members of the intranet development team are involved in the presentation, putting the audience directly in touch with the experience and the lessons learnt along the way. They are:

Lynley Sinclair, HR Manager - Led the development project
Malcolm Perry, IT Manager - Technical network requirements
Pete Evans, eBusiness Project Manager - Technical build of the site
Inez Romanos, Intranet Publisher - Ongoing communications management

The session includes a look at the history, the difficulties needing to be addressed, tried and rejected models and designs, the process we followed, and the surprisingly fast six-month development path.

The “tabnet” intranet – Building the Heart of a Communications Matrix takes in:

  • Our operation and its special conditions and needs
  • The history of the project itself
  • An unusual approach from the techies – they delivered it, but intranet is not their baby
  • Building 400+ site pages – in minutes
  • Branding and launching to make the intranet a key staff destination
  • Getting the news in front of everyone, when they want and need it
  • a demonstration of the Builder software that makes “tabnet” so easy to keep current and relevant
  • Future developments – building functionality

About the NZRB

The New Zealand Racing Board is the organisation that runs the TAB betting agency and is responsible for building the profitability of the New Zealand racing sector of the New Zealand economy.

The NZRB includes in its organisation diverse services and disciplines - A National Office including typical functions of any major business HQ, the Wagering business unit managing racing and sports betting; Trackside, the TAB’s own television production facility with mobile crews nation wide; Retail, the network of TABs throughout every corner of New Zealand; and Technical Services, which develops and runs the international-standard software and hardware at the core of the TAB’s operations, including a wagering website and touch-tone betting services.

The NZRB is at the heart of the racing industry, and employs over 900 people.

We launched the “tabnet” intranet on 1 September 2003.

Lynley Sinclair, Human Resources Manager

As Human Resources Manager, Lynley is responsible for the frameworks, systems, policies and advice on people issues of strategic importance to the business as a whole.

Lynley joined the TAB from New Zealand Post where she worked in senior Human Resources positions and as Learning and Development Manager. She has worked for several other organisations including two years as a Human Resources Consultant with Ernst & Young.

Lynley graduated from Canterbury University with a Master of Science (Honours) degree majoring in Psychology. She subsequently completed a Masters of Business Administration from Henley Management College in the United Kingdom, and is also a registered Psychologist.

Lynley is currently Wellington Branch president of HRINZ.

Malcolm Perry, IT Manager

Malcolm has been involved in the IT industry for 17 years.

Malcolm is IT Manager responsible for the 24x7 Computer Operations environment and support of the Corporate computing infrastructure. He was involved with the development and implementation of an ebusiness strategy for the TAB and is involved with the NZRB's Internet program.

Malcolm has completed a postgraduate Diploma in Business (Information Systems) and is currently studying towards a post graduate Certificate in Leisure and Entertainment Management through Sydney's Charles Sturt University on-line business management program.

Pete Evans, eBusiness Project Manager

Pete has more than 20 years of experience in software development.

He has been with the TAB as a Programmer, Analyst Programmer and Team Leader on the Jetbet
wagering system, working on a wide range of new products.

He is currently eBusiness Project Manager and manages the on-going enhancements to the TAB website, interactive TV betting (through the SKY Digital service) and text messaging systems. He undertook construction of “tabnet” and continues to develop tools for building automating the site.

Inez Romanos, Intranet Publisher

Inez is a writer with experience across corporate communication, public relations, and community, daily and radio journalism.

Inez has just returned from 11 years in London. She worked there in a variety of writing and marketing roles, in industries ranging from merchant banking to construction management.

She returned to her native Wellington in 2003 last year, working for the New Zealand Racing Board since July, publishing the intranet working on other internal communications projects.

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