Having previously underinvested in ICT, the council found itself struggling with on premise infrastructure and systems that couldn’t keep pace with a modern, digital world.
“We were staring down the barrel of a 10-year gap in terms of where we needed to be from a technology perspective, to support our digital council strategy,” said Information Services Department Manager, Jo Wheat-Connelly.
Alan Adcock, General Manager of Corporate and Chief Financial Officer said: “For years we had made platform and system changes to solve the problems and support the aspirations of individual departments and functions, often with ‘best of breed’ solutions. In doing so, we had created a maze of conflicting version dependencies, disparate data sets and multiple versions of the truth. We had lost sight of the bigger picture.”
Rob Forlong, Chief Executive Officer, added: “We were spending a fortune doing integration between our multiple systems. We were constrained with these systems and couldn’t do the things that would move us forward. Our systems were holding us back.”
In the year since going live, the council has reduced its total cost of IT ownership by 38 per cent, shaved $280,000 off the bottom line operationally and is now able to deliver services via an intuitive, highly accessible platform.
“We’ve now got a platform that allows us to achieve things that were totally inconceivable 18 months ago. We can advance and live in the 21st century,” said Mr Forlong.
Whangarei District Council serves a population of 90,000 people across northern New Zealand, covering an area that generates approximately half of Northland’s regional economy.
To accommodate rapid socioeconomic growth in the region, the council embarked on a digital transformation project to modernise its systems and better serve the community.
We’ve now got a platform that allows us to achieve things that were totally inconceivable 18 months ago. We can advance and live in the 21st century.
Whangarei District Council’s logo reads ‘woven together to become strong’, and forming strong strategic partnerships is indeed a core value of the council.
“We’ve been with TechnologyOne for 10 years. We are absolutely committed to the relationship that we have, to the point where we’ve signed a six year software services agreement with them,” said Ms Wheat-Connelly.
“We really value the relationship. There have been times when the team at TechnologyOne have pulled out absolutely all the stops to get us to an outcome we wanted. We value that and are more than prepared to pull out all the stops on our end as well.
“That’s why it works. You can’t actually do what we did without having a strong relationship...it’s impossible.”
Mr Adcock added: “We have created a real partnership with the TechnologyOne team. That’s key to our success.”
Whangarei District Council engaged TechnologyOne’s Application Managed Services (AMS) team to provide technical support while transitioning to SaaS. “Since moving to SaaS and engaging AMS, we’ve reduced our cost of ownership significantly. We’ve been able to redeploy three employees from my team to other parts of the organisation where they’re needed most,” said Ms Wheat-Connelly.
“AMS is a ‘one stop shop’ for our technical support. The AMS team is able to traverse the different areas of TechnologyOne to resolve and manage issue for us. It makes all the difference.”
In 2012, Whangarei District Council established a cross-organisation ICT Think Tank to develop a vision for the way it should do business with customers. This led to a project called ‘Trilogy’ to digitise the council’s systems and operations.
“We wanted to be business-led, not IT-led, and at the same time adopt ‘out of the box’ solutions that were costeffective to support,” said Mr Adcock.
Ms Wheat-Connelly said: “We needed to bring our operating and back office systems up to a scalable standard, so we didn’t fall behind any further. Trilogy was designed to deliver the foundation that would underpin our digital transformation. There are three phases to Trilogy and last year we delivered the first phase.
“This first, foundational phase was a massive step forward. Over the last 12 months, we moved our local infrastructure to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), implemented enterprise content and search capabilities and moved our corporate system (TechnologyOne) to SaaS.
“In doing so, we’ve reduced the cost of keeping systems running. Now, we can spend money in other transformational areas that will enable our vision of becoming a digital council.”
Moving from on premise infrastructure to SaaS has been critical for enabling Whangarei District Council to reach its digital transformation goals.
“A key component was enabling single sign-on, which means employees can access our entire system using just one ID and password. SaaS also enables access anywhere, anytime and from any device,” said Ms Wheat-Connelly.
“Our people are quite blown away by SaaS. Previously, there was a huge amount of work and effort involved in supporting and maintaining our systems. Access was restricted to when you were in the office, or using remote services that were less than reliable. Now, we have access anytime, anywhere and on any device. People love that.”
Having completed the foundational phase of Trilogy, the council has big plans for the future.
“We’ve just taken the first step down our transformational pathway. We’ve still got two further phases to deliver and we’re embarking on that second phase now,” said Ms Wheat-Connelly.
“We’re working with TechnologyOne to now start to look at how we can deliver better online services to the community, now that we have the fundamentals in place to allow us to do this. Moving into online services will enable our team to do things faster, better, easier and on demand.”
According to Mr Forlong, “the future is about smart technology and OneCouncil has taken us there."
About Whangarei District Council
Whangarei District Council serves a population of 90,000 people across northern New Zealand, covering an area which generates approximately half of Northland’s regional economy. The council’s vision is to support a vibrant, attractive and thriving district by developing sustainable lifestyles based around its unique environment.
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