Wollongong City Council
Adopting OneCouncil Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP solution and connecting functions that were previously siloed through their IT systems has enabled Wollongong City Council to mobilise its workforce, improve business intelligence and focus on service delivery
Wollongong City Council delivers services and programs to more than 236,000 residents within New South Wales’ third most populous city. Serving such a large and diverse community includes responsibility for managing $3.7 billion in assets and 33 service areas.
Prior to 2018, Wollongong City Council’s approach to IT management was reactive, increasingly complex, and completely on-premise.
The council’s Chief Information Officer, Ingrid McAlpin, said a three-year strategy was developed to guide the adoption of a more unified approach that would enable business improvement, growth, and mobility.
“Previously most of the work the IT team undertook was about keeping the lights on, but the strategy was about becoming an enabler for business innovation,” McAlpin said.
At the time, the council was using TechnologyOne’s preconfigured solution on-premise to manage its financials. It wanted to increase integration and reinvent its operating model by moving to Software as a Service (SaaS).
“We had over 500 applications and most of them were legacy in nature—largely client server applications running on on-premise hardware. We were very much tied to desktop PCs,” McAlpin said.
“Demands on council were growing, as was the need to do more with less. We needed to adopt systems that would make our people more efficient by aligning technology to our business processes. The concept of anywhere, any time, any device mobility was also driving us.”
To realise its ambitious cloud-first strategy, Wollongong City Council phased its digital transformation. The first step was to transition from using TechnologyOne’s on-premise solution, to SaaS in 2018.
“The biggest reason we partnered with TechnologyOne was their capacity to help us create effective systems—systems that are shared, integrated, flexible and scalable,” McAlpin said.
TechnologyOne has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building a trusted SaaS platform, which offers a simpler, more reliable and efficient way of running council operations.
Phase two took place in 2019. The council adopted TechnologyOne’s Ci Anywhere platform to embrace mobile-friendly workflows across its purchasing, performance planning, budgeting, and chart of accounts.
In 2020—implementing amid the coronavirus pandemic—the council further leveraged Ci Anywhere to better mobilise the way it manages assets, construction and maintenance work, and customer service.
The council plans to add more business functions to Ci Anywhere over the remainder of 2020-21, including document management, property and rating, policy and compliance, lease management, contracts, and project management.
By adopting TechnologyOne’s SaaS ERP solution, Wollongong City Council has more integrated and accessible systems that enhance visibility and collaboration.
“We worked closely with TechnologyOne to make sure that our system enabled better business processes, and linkages across the system to support information sharing going forward,” the council’s Chief Information Officer, Ingrid McAlpin, said.
Outdoor workers switched from paper-based processes to using OneCouncil via more than 140 tablets to view work orders, capture data about asset condition, and receive messages.
“Bringing together our outdoor workforce was the biggest achievement,” McAlpin said.
“We’re a large council with multiple community facilities, pools, playgrounds, parks and sporting grounds. We have a $115.8 million capital works program and conduct 8.8 million waste bin collections.”
An added bonus from the tablet implementation, field workers also gained on-the-go access to standard operating procedures, safety information, timesheets and leave requests.
“We wanted a mobile workforce and that was certainly something that came about with the implementation of TechnologyOne’s SaaS platform,” McAlpin said.
“There’s now integration between work management and customer service, with a simplified interface for both staff and customers. When a field worker closes a work order, the information feeds back into the system and sends an email off to the person who requested it.
“For example, if a customer emails about an uneven footpath, our employees can see on a map exactly where the problem is, upload ‘before and after’ photos, and when the job is done a response goes right back to the customer—all in real-time.”
The council is able to deploy workers in the same vicinity as issues arise, increasing the efficiency of operations and maintenance.
“Rather than going back to the depot to pick up a piece of paper, and then go back out in the truck, they're working in real-time, so it's been a huge change to the way we do business. Our outdoor workers are quite mobile now and this all happened in the middle of the pandemic."
Greater access to insights has bolstered the council’s strategic decision-making.
“Before, we were data rich but information poor, which meant decisions were sometimes being made anecdotally,” McAlpin said.
“Now we’re able to implement information management, and that’s really about business intelligence. The analytics that come out of OneCouncil will feed into broader activities—we’re starting to look at predictive maintenance and big data.”
We wanted a mobile workforce and that was certainly something that came about with the implementation of TechnologyOne’s SaaS platform.
Wollongong City Council’s perspective
To augment the transformative effect of TechnologyOne’s SaaS platform, the council redesigned its approach to IT management to focus on service delivery and continuous improvement.
“We not only had to change our software, we had to change the way we supported and up-skilled our staff. We’re building our capability not just to support the application but to drive the application forward,” McAlpin said.
“Changing how we work and forming relationships with our various business units was certainly very much part of what we did, and we restructured the team to do that.”
The OneCouncil SaaS ERP solution has laid a foundation for the council to deliver services online. A connected community is central to Wollongong City Council’s vision for the future, and almost 77 per cent of the city’s households have a broadband internet connection.
McAlpin said: “There was a growing expectation among our clients, residents, and visitors to be able to interact digitally with Council, and previously that wasn’t possible.”
Since enabling electronic customer requests and enquiries, the council has seen a reduction in customer requests for service calls to our Customer Service team.
“We’re closing the loop from requests right through to the remediation back to the customer. That’s providing us with really good data, so we can further improve service to where we want it to be and then focus on optimisation,” she said.
The council plans to offer more services online and foster digital uptake.
“Our next step will be introducing TechnologyOne’s Property and Rating, which will further extend our digital reach changing the way we interact with our community.
Working with TechnologyOne to implement an enterprise SaaS solution in stages has allowed Wollongong City Council to seamlessly shift to agile, digital workflows.
“Through our partnership with AWS, we are delivering Wollongong City Council the ability to rapidly scale, and a level of service that you just cannot deliver in an on-premise environment," said Daniel Sultana, Director of TechnologyOne’s SaaS Platform.
“We now have a mobile outdoor workforce who have become accustomed to using their tablets every day,” McAlpin said.
Rolling out stage two of the project during the global COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow us down, and workers quickly embraced the user-friendly mobile interfaces.
“Staff were able to do training sessions at the depot or electronically, to walk through how the tablets and software worked.
“Most people would say you'd have to stop everything, but we turned it into an opportunity.”
About Wollongong City Council
Wollongong City Council delivers services and programs to more than 236,000 residents within New South Wales’ third most populous city.
The City of Wollongong is located 80km south of Sydney and is on a narrow coastal strip bordered by the Royal National Park to the north, Lake Illawarra to the south, the Tasman Sea to the east and the Illawarra Escarpment to the west.
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