Separating a portion of NSW Land and Property Information was never going to be simple. KPMG, alongside the NSW Government, worked through the immense complexities by applying sound stakeholder management, transparent communication, and by bringing in the right expertise to quickly solve issues – all leading to a successful outcome.
When the NSW Government decided to commercialise a portion of its asset, NSW Land and Property Information, it was the first time in the world that a land title registry had been through the process, so there was no specific precedent to follow.
NSW Land and Property Information affects everyone who owns property in NSW. Any time a property is sold and purchased, the land title register must be updated to officially reflect the change in ownership.
In October 2015, the NSW Government appointed KPMG to assist with considering the potential long-term concession of this important organisation.
The KPMG team showed the evaluation committee that they deeply understood the vast complexities of the project, the specifics of the business (in particular its strong data-based value), and that KPMG had the vast expertise to help drive the change.
In March 2016, KPMG, alongside the NSW Government set out to separate a portion of the organisation, and ensure it was equipped to function as an independent business. ‘Extracting’ the part of the business – along with its people, processes, assets, contracts and technology – was obviously a complex undertaking. However, the team quickly identified that there were even more pressures to work through.
Commonly, commercialisation of public assets starts with creating a state-owned company first, which can later be sold. However, this project involved skipping this phase – taking a functioning service agency of government and putting it straight to sale. With countless interfaces to manage between the business, the government and the public, it was a bold decision.
It was immediately apparent to the team that the project would require continual stakeholder management. Stakeholders spanned the Government, employees, external strategists, a financial advisor, a legal advisor, the property industry, the public, persistent media, and unions.
Some stakeholder engagement was sensitive, as some employees were concerned about moving from a public sector asset to a private business. Unions operated a vocal campaign against the sale, staking a presence outside the Land Title Registry offices. It was a topic of constant media attention.
The KPMG team established a steering committee within Government to liaise with on key decisions. Then they worked on site, in close collaboration, to plan, design and execute the strategy.
Over the 18-month project, around 150 KPMG team members were involved, leading client representatives and independent contractors through the process of separating the asset, readying it for new ownership, and finding the right new organisation.
The team tapped into the breadth of KPMG’s knowledge both nationally and globally to ensure the right expertise was harnessed. Teams engaged included Technology (IT Advisory, Cyber, business continuity), Transformational Project Management, Risk Consulting, Financial Management, CFO Advisory, Transaction Services, Corporate Tax and GST, First Point Global, Internal Audit, and the Global Strategy Group.
Having the right experts on hand meant that the team could deal with issues as they arose, while maintaining the project’s momentum.
Contributing to the success of the project was honest and open stakeholder communication daily, and regular workshops to ensure everyone was on the journey. The team attended the weekly executives’ meeting, and steering committee meetings, and obtained strong support across the Board.
This close engagement helped to reach agreements on strategy as there was a greater level of trust.
For example, a key debate was whether to build a new disaster recovery (DR) site prior to the sale. A DR site ensures that when the land titles register is updated, it is replicated within 5 minutes in another database. KPMG’s assessment was that the DR required an upgrade. The team undertook research and presented evidence, after which the Government agreed with the assessment. By offering deeper insights and communicating openly, it was possible to find the best outcome.
By clearly defining the project principals upfront and strictly applying them with a process of transparency, stakeholder engagement and honest communication, KPMG, with support from the Government, were able to successfully deliver a standalone business with its own people, processes, assets, contracts and technology, a new DR, a new call centre, a new help desk and its own instance of SAP – that was ready for sale.
The business was taken on by an appropriate organisation with a 35-year lease, after which the acquiring consortium has the option to renew, take it to tender, or the Government can bring it back within the public domain.
KPMG was dedicated to delivering the program to a high standard, within the required timeframe. Amid countless complexities, the team maintained the project’s momentum, and ensured stakeholders were informed every step of the way.