10 February 2015

Gisborne District Council sets the standard for local government IT achieving massive cost savings

Thanks to some clever use of technology the Gisborne District Council has recently calculated savings of more than $400,000, and improved staff productivity – simply by deploying a new ICT solution.

Travelling across Gisborne to meet with colleagues located in other buildings was proving to be time-consuming and costly says Gisborne District Council’s IT Manager, Jenine Ritchie.

“Last year a third of staff were forced into temporary offices after the building they were located in was deemed earthquake-prone,” explains Jenine. “That brought our total number of offices to five; with around 320 staff you can imagine the mounting travel costs and the loss in productivity.”

The Council’s on-premise phone system was also not helping things. Not only was it approaching its end of life, it had also been cutting out and leaving some staff without phones. And if faults occurred or updates were required, a technician would have to travel from Napier to help.

At two other sites, the council was leasing a telephony service, which was only an interim solution and not a good use of budget long-term, says Jenine.

“Our relatively new leadership team are all pro-technology and were keen to adopt a solution that would reduce our complexity and help us collaborate despite being spread across a number of offices.”

She says that the council IT team does not employ specific voice expertise so it turned to Spark Digital to assist in deploying its new enterprise voice solution.

“We deemed change management as paramount to the success of the project, we couldn’t afford any significant impacts on the organisation”, explains Jenine. “Spark Digital had the ability to design and implement a voice solution that would achieve our goals.”

When asked about why she thinks the project was a success, Jenine points towards the fantastic working relationship between the council and Spark Digital coupled with some thorough pre-planning and testing.

“We carried out a pilot which let us deal with any integration issues upfront. The rollout was staggered over a six-week period. Staff attended training sessions, returning from each to discover their new telephony tools loaded on their desktop and ready to use. “The process was relatively seamless and having IT support walking the floor helped to tackle any teething issues,” adds Jenine.

Council staff are connected across one communication interface. They can instant messaging each other and share screens and documents, while working from a range of devices, in or out of the office. Remote meetings are pulled together with speed, using either audio or video conferencing.

New contact centre software that was deployed by Spark Digital, is allowing the council to produce customised, real-time reports. Statistics such as number of calls waiting and agents available is helping the council to continually improve its public service.

Excluding travel, the council has calculated savings of more than $400,000. Jenine says this is just the tip of the iceberg given the recent announcement. “We’ve just had news that two of our buildings will be demolished, meaning that staff at these sites will need to re-locate to four separate offices; this will bring our total number of locations from five to nine.”

With so many locations and temporary offices Jenine says containerised data centres are next on the roadmap, and Spark Digital will be the council’s ICT partner to help in this journey.