Name: David John McGrathTitle: Chief digital officerCompany: ClubsNSWCommenced role: July 2017Reporting line: CEOMember of the executive team: YesTechnology Function: 18 staff, 6 direct reports
Under the guidance of chief digital officer David John McGrath and his Digital Services Team, ClubsNSW has successfully built and launched two major software developments within the last two.
Together the ClubGrants and Multi Venue Self Exclusion (MVSE) systems have positively changed the lives of thousands of people, McGrath tells CIO Australia.
As one of New South Wales’s largest community grants platforms, ClubGrants provides more than $100m of annual funding to community groups, he says.
“The system allows registered clubs in New South Wales to promote community funding online.”
The ClubGrants platform enables community groups to apply for funding online, allowing them to provide supporting material and the rationale for their application, as well as a desired funding amount.
Successful applicants are notified via the system and the funding is exchanged. The system also links to the New South Wales liquor and gaming authority to allow audits and the meeting regulatory requirements to take place through one platform.
Complete system rebuild
The relaunch of the ClubGrants platform involved a complete system rebuild and platform migration, and saw the system being brought in house to ClubsNSW.
The project was complex from a stakeholder management perspective, says McGrath.
“The initial scope and support for the project involved NSW local government authorities, government policy teams, community club stakeholders, ClubGrants product owners, and the ClubsNSW digital services team,” he says.
Designed, developed, project managed, tested, and deployed by the ClubsNSW digital services team, the ClubGrants platform was relaunched in March 2022. It has since been used to generate over 10,500 grant applications.
The ClubGrants platform was built as a natural extension to the good work which local clubs provide, says McGrath.
“The ability for community groups to access club funding has become the lifeblood for many not-for-profit organisations. To be able to simply discover and apply for funding in one marketplace, provides a highly valuable community service and ensures those who need services, get them.”
Enabling community contributions through the platform has produced many positive stories for clubs and ClubsNSW.
“These are used to promote the good news behind recipients transforming lives via the funding they receive from the platform,” says McGrath.
Complex stakeholder management
Meanwhile, McGrath and the ClubsNSW digital services team also completely rebuilt the industry’s Multi Venue Self Exclusion (MVSE) platform during the past two years. The system allows problem gamblers to opt out of gambling across both club and Pub venues in New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
“The project involved a complete system rebuild and platform migration, bringing the MVSE system in house,” says McGrath.
Launched in the Northern Territory in late 2022 and in New South Wales early 2023, the design and deployment of this system also involved multiple stakeholders including gaming regulators, government policy teams, leading Northern Territory and New South Wales clubs, Australian Hotels Association (AHA), gambling councillors, MVSE product owners, and the ClubsNSW digital services team.
“Again, another complex stakeholder management project,” says McGrath.
Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained in the system, the highest data security and governance procedures were created and deployed to protect the system. This includes multi-factor user authentication, database encryption, AI threat detection and server replication for disaster recovery.
Data exported from the previous MVSE system was migrated to the new system using a custom integration extraction code. This involved new architecture and linked to reporting and notification systems.
The final stages of the MVSE system deployment will include integration with new digital identity and facial recognition software. This aims to help protect people who have excluded themselves from gaming venues by detecting them when they are on premise – with their consent.
Valuable community service
Like ClubGrants, the MVSE system also provides a highly valuable community service, says McGrath.
“MVSE is now the foundation layer for multivenue exclusion services across pubs and clubs in the Northern Territory and New South Wales, with the ability to connect into future facing services like facial recognition and digital identity pending. MVSE is built to enhance responsible venue operations and protect problems gamblers.”
The two projects have showcased ClubsNSW as having the capability and credibility to build and maintain two complex, data sensitive, and community driven software products, says McGrath.
Both projects are also a testament to complex skills and high-quality of the team McGrath has built since creating the ClubsNSW digital services team in 2017.
McGrath and the team have since led the technology direction and strategy of an organisation which is over 100 years old across a range of initiatives including software development, systems integration, UX and UI, multi-stakeholder project management, database engineering and analytics, and data security and governance.
In addition, McGrath has been advancing technology adoption across the sector, showing how technology can play a part in reshaping club futures. He has founded an industry Digital Advisory Group (DAC) bringing together club leaders from various backgrounds including CEOs, COOs, CFOs, IT managers, marketing managers, and gaming managers with the aim to learn and share.
Louis van Wyk