Q&A with Justin Lynch: "SaaS has freed up our operational focus"
The City of Holdfast Bay has gone through a significant digital transformation in a bid to become a city that thinks smarter. CEO Justin Lynch discusses how switching to an integrated ERP SaaS solution is paving the way for a smarter future.
How would you describe the current local government landscape?
In recent years, there has been a significant shift in terms of the community’s service expectations. People are becoming increasingly savvy in the way they communicate and collaborate with councils, and self-serve technologies are now a major trend. People don’t necessarily want to interact face to face or over the phone. Many would just prefer to follow a simple online process and do it themselves.
The evolution of smart devices and apps is also driving higher service expectations and means that people are much more organised than they used to be. Now, constituents have a Facebook page and a campaign running before Council even knows there’s an issue.
This is forcing a lot of councils to look at their technology to keep pace with the community’s changing expectations.
City of Holdfast Bay has recently undergone significant digital transformation. What led you down this pathway?
Previously we were using multiple technology programs and an organisation of our size couldn’t operate effectively with all of these. Our data centre was also coming to the end of its life so we had to make a decision whether to replace this or move to the cloud. We knew that we couldn’t keep up to date with the IT resourcing, security requirements and costs associated to replace this, so we made the decision to implement TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil software as a service (SaaS) solution to free up our operational focus.
Switching to an ERP SaaS solution has been a game changer for us. It’s given us access to real-time information, streamlined processes and saved in staffing, which means we are able to reinvest these savings back into the organisation. When your technology is integrated, intuitive and fast you can function a lot more effectively and I’ve seen the value of employees’ jobs improve enormously because of this.
Our end goal throughout this process is to create a city that thinks smarter, is intuitive and predicts things before people need them. Now that we have the underlying technology in place, our priority is to further develop this and create a robust digital channel for our customers.
What was the biggest challenge you experienced on your digital transformation journey?
When it comes to any digital transformation project, creating a culture that accepts technology is key. Often digital functionality and services are not well understood or accepted by elected members, so it can be a struggle to articulate its value and the importance of getting it right. As CEO, it’s my position to drive this and champion what is necessary, so that’s been a key focus of mine throughout this process.
What should other executives look for in a technology partner?
When we started our digital transformation journey, we sought an organisation that was robust, understood the needs of local government and could go the distance with us. TechnologyOne was the obvious choice, because they have decades of experience working with local governments and their OneCouncil solution is developed specifically for our industry. Once you’re on this track of digital transformation there’s no going back, so it’s incredibly important to have a partner you can trust and who can deliver against your needs.
What advice would you give other chief executives considering digital transformation?
I would say the time has come to face this challenge. Get a team that not only understands the challenges, but also the solution. Get a good partner that understands the local government landscape and has a proven solution. And lastly, do things at your pace and be comfortable with your decisions — don’t focus on technology for technology’s sake, ensure you’re doing it to improve your customer experience.
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