Since undertaking his role as chief information officer at WaterNSW in September 2015, Gordon Dunsford has created a four-year technology transformation strategy and roadmap to integrate three smaller water utilities into one which is now Australia’s largest water utility by volume.
The transformation has included consolidating datacentres and modernising ICT infrastructure to improve the performance of disparate ERP and telecommunications apps, geographical information, account management and water licensing software. This included removing legacy systems that are used to provide core IT and business services, and give team members the opportunity to make requests through a single system interface.
Dunsford and his team deployed the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP platform, running in the Azure cloud, and ServiceNow – branded ‘MyWaterNSW – to enhance the performance of system that are used to run the business. So far, the organisation has automated and digitised more than 300 manual processes which range from engineering, IT training, ICT services and solutions, environment services, water data, physical security services, assets, people and culture, and information and records management.
“Apart from the visibility and engagement this brings to our customers, it also meant these manual processes, which previously took days and weeks to execute are now, in many cases, automated and have been brought down to minutes and even seconds,” says Dunsford.
“Things are so vastly different now than they were for the previous organisation before we merged. You can bet that collectively people are saving thousands of hours which they can give back to the organisation.
“Staff can work the way they want to meet customer needs. There’s been a real positive change in staff moral – they are working smarter using the latest technology innovations,” he says.
A customer-centric culture
The transformation activity has resulted in significant structural, operation and cultural impacts, and having a direct link to the CEO has given Dunsford the ability to influence and shape the utility’s business strategy and ensure technology projects are behind a new ‘customer-centric’ culture.
WaterNSW’s customer strategy, dubbed Project Skyline, underpins new customer service principles from the call centre though to digital channels, Dunsford says.
“Technology is an integral part of our business. We now have a refreshed website presence and have created mobile apps that push data to account and water ordering applications, which enables our customers in regional and rural NSW to easily order water and check their account balances from their mobile devices,” he says.
Collaboration is key
Dunsford says a key lesson he has learned during his career is to collaboratively build a strategy and roadmap and get a great sponsor.
“Empower your people, ask what you can do to enable them to be their best – get out of their way and let them get on with it. Never judge a book by its cover when it comes to people and take your staff and the business on a journey – you can never communicate enough.”
Dunsford says he always lets the outcomes of the team he leads and what they collectively deliver speak for itself.
“Building credibility in an organisation that is very engineering-based and practical means you have to deliver real tangible outcomes and that gives you the ticket and trust to do more and more.
“It also means that as a direct report to the CEO, I get asked to lead the thinking and strategy for how the organisation will operate in the future; the ways its people will work with our assets and structures and for our customers into the future.”