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How Cumberland Council embraces tech innovation to uphold transparency & customer focus

24 Oct 2016

The story of Cumberland Council is one of amalgamation, adoption and great success; after just five months of operation. Adopting the previous council's cloud IT infrastructure, it is now much more efficient in all areas of looking after its customers.

The Cumberland Council was formed after the former Auburn Council and Holroyd Councils were amalgamated under the New South Wales mergers and amalgamations process.

Peter Fitzgerald, Cumberland Council's executive manager of operations, says the amalgamation has been a unique and innovative approach to service delivery and community management and ultimately attract community trust back into the organisation.

What made the former Auburn Council so innovative was its use of TechnologyOne's software since 2013, which Fitzgerald says started off with the enterprise finance module.

"They then started with enterprise asset management, then human resources, then were part of the Ci Early Adopters Program. That was an excellent outcome for such a small Council to be part of that programme. That put us on the front line for technology."

When the merger occurred, he said it was a 'no-brainer' to continue using TechnologyOne's service delivery.

Given that many councils are still slow to adopt new technologies, Fitzgerald believes that this is mainly because they're sticking with older technologies out of habit, particularly as some councils are over 100 years old.

"Councils have adopted systems and practices that have continued over time. And they have a certain way of delivering services to their community. That's not a right thing or a wrong thing; it depends on what sort of vision you have for the Council."

He says that councils like Cumberland that take a strong leadership position are in the best position to facilitate what they want. In Cumberland's case, they wanted innovation

"Then you get things like defect management, the ability to create and complete defects at the drop of a hat. You then get the ability to turn into a customer-focused organisation. If you can turn your organisation back to the community, you have that transparency and trust."

He says TechnologyOne has helped the Council achieve this trust.

"In the old days, where a resident would want to ring up and have a bin collected, for example, because we missed that bin, generally speaking they would ring customer service or speak to someone over the phone. That work would have to be referred down to the depot - it could be a matter of hours or even days before there was a result on that request."

Now the Council can react to requests immediately, using the immediacy that technology provides and staying customer-focused.

"So if we have the ability in-house, you then have a sense of transparency and trust. You then form that trust between Council and community. And that's a really strong path."

But the path to technology and innovation hasn't been easy for Cumberland Council, and it has come with its share of challenges.

"We have to deliver a new plan to the community. We have to show them how we want to operate and how we want to manage the community. The only way we can do that is through TechnologyOne. We've tried a lot of other systems. The only one that works is TechOne."

"Ci Anywhere gives our staff the ability to have a different business process internally in the organisation. I think that's really important."

He says that something as laborious as filling out a leave form requires signatures and trips to HR, payroll, and approvals. But he believes the new technology provides the ability to lodge a leave request and approve in a matter of seconds from any device.

"That's a huge innovation. That's massive because what that effectively does is create so much efficiency. Rather than me sitting there looking at a leave form, I can just look at my phone and that's done in a second. That saving then goes back to the community. So the community is the ultimate beneficiary."

He says that technology's ability to provide operational data on demand is also an incredibly useful tool to have, particularly in situations such as illegal rubbish dumping.

"You would rely on someone who's been in that organisation for 30-35 years to tell you where all the dumping hotspots are. When you're talking about analysing and harvesting data, we can take the works orders, we can see the type that it is, we can search for it, layer it across the map on our survey and then we can see it. So that's where one central knowledge base and source of truth become so handy because everything's at your fingertips."

Fitzgerald concludes by saying that while he was privileged enough to speak about the Council's journey at TechnologyOne's EVOLVE conference, it was a team effort and the result of hard works and partnerships, as it continues to uphold transparency and customer-facing services that benefit the entire community.

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