Gavin Till and his team are building and managing the digital transformation portfolio at the Christchurch City Council.
The critical role played by the team in the council’s programme towards becoming a digital government necessitated major changes for ICT.
IT is part of a business change board which meets every month to govern IT delivery, and annually for strategic planning, he explains.
The IT service manages sit on business boards for their respective business areas, and provide advice and guidance.
“We engage with senior management through regular meetings around architecture, strategy, and; planning and delivery updates and priorities can be transparently articulated and understood.”
“We have designed a new way of working to meet the IT strategy,” says Till. Under the new structure, people operate in autonomous multi-skilled teams and are adopting Agile methodologies.
The shift enables the staff to split their time more effectively between research/innovation and operational activities.
He mentions the range of programmes achieved through this tight IT integration with the business units across the council.
The digital web programme involved reviewing all internal and external websites and initiatives across the council with a view to consolidate and deliver innovative solutions for better communication with our staff and citizens.
The web platform upgrade to the all of government common web platform produced a responsive website with accessibility standards in place to provide information to the citizens. We trained business users to take ownership of the content they provide and continue to deliver great customer service through the digital channel team, he says.
The team also replaced their Intranet with SharePoint. This is a platform that can change with the business, he says.
“The new intranet (The hub) allows teams to have digital workspaces, including, forms and collaboration tools to increase team efficiency,” he says. The hub has become the first point of a staff member’s workday to check what’s happening and review internal news stories as well as link to reports and productivity tools.
The council also rolled out Newsline, it’s own digital news channel for delivering stories and news to citizens and media. Old style media releases have dropped dramatically in number as now citizens and journalists alike can get their information from the CCC Newsline channel.
The implementation of the SnapSendSolve app allowed citizens to report incidents such as potholes and graffiti while mobile to CCC with pictures and location data. The app has now been implemented across all Canterbury councils providing a seamless experience for citizens.
At a recent Hackday, the IT team worked on a CElect app. The app allowed citizens to find and view their candidates for the local body election using their location to find the correct ward. The wards were recently changed so the app helped citizens avoid the confusion of which wards and therefore candidates they had.
Till says the app was a way to improve the voting attendance of the younger population, as well as produce a more informed voter.
The app went from Hackday to available in the Android and Apple stores in weeks, he says.
The IT team also worked to create paperless meetings by providing electronic devices containing the agenda and associated papers to elected members. This initiative resulted in savings in excess of $200,000 and drove a new digital way of working, he says.
A new Dashboard combines work orders in a logical processing groups to be used as a single point of entry for all transactional management of open work orders.
This innovation was highlighted through a Three Waters continuous improvement programme. This identified a need to reduce time lost identifying user workload and prioritisation. It was driven by business need but the innovation was an ICT delivered solution, he explains.
The dashboard identifies an immediate overview of a large amount of data, giving the user immediate notifications of work to be completed.
This innovation was delivered into one area of Council and has been deemed such a success by the customers that it is planned to be delivered in a number of others.
The solution has freed up resources and cut down on report preparation time.
Till says the IT team also worked on several experiments using new or disruptive technologies. One was providing body cameras for parking officers for improved health and safety, and 3D printing in libraries. They also tested an app to allow people to borrow items in the library using their smartphone, potentially reducing queues at kiosks.
These projects resonated with the citizens and staff, moving the IT team’s Net Promoter Score measuring customer satisfaction with IT from 11 to 35 in one year.
Meanwhile, to keep core operational systems in a fit-for-purpose state and minimise technical debt, Till says the technology department ensures there are line items in the portfolio to cover these areas.
For instance, an ongoing line item on their portfolio is software upgrades across the business.
We recently completed a major programme of work (My Workplace) that included a council-wide desktop upgrade, VDI environment implementation and MS Office upgrade, he says.
Operational efficiencies created by this work included reduced supply of CCC laptops to contractors and consultants, efficiency gains for application installs, reduced IT setup time for new starts, reduced power usage with thin clients as opposed to desktops.
Budgets are set around anticipated requirements of IT maintaining operational priorities and anticipated projects, some of which will have an innovative element. This budget portfolio is assessed regularly to ensure the balance of “keeping the lights on” is kept with “iterative light bulb improvements” and “innovation around light delivery”.
Till says he has also developed a complete IT succession plan for the management team, including the CIO role, and for critical IT resources.
Till has identified a team member that is able to step into his role while he is away. She has been acting CIO several times in the past year.
Staff attend technical and non-technical courses ranging from leadership development, agile training and people skills.
“Team members are constantly stretched outside of their comfort zone,” says Till.
“Most people have someone else in the team to cover for them. This has been achieved by a constant programme of cross training.”