Software upgrade moves Council services online and cuts call centre time

The City of Port Adelaide Enfield has upgraded its TechnologyOne Property & Rating solution to increase its online presence, giving ratepayers 24/7 access to 35 additional online services and reducing the number of enquiries its call centre receives.

One of the largest metropolitan councils in South Australia and covering approximately 97 square kilometres, the City has a growing population of more than 105,000 residents and 7000 businesses.

The upgrade has enabled the Council to offer a development application (DA) tracking tool on its website, and following the success of this project, it is scoping future upgrade projects which will roll out more web-based tools to meet community expectations and fuel further end user uptake.

Fred Newman, Director Environmental Services at City of Port Adelaide Enfield, said the Council used its annual customer satisfaction survey to benchmark and improve services. The results of the survey highlighted a demand from constituents for improved, faster access to council services. The answer; increase the online services offering.

"There is a clear ‘push and a pull' aspect when it comes to promoting and offering online services and by diverting routine enquiries though our website, the Council is able to provide better customer service on more complex issues, and put its resources to best use," Mr Newman said.

The online DA tracking tool means that residents only need to key data once, which is then centrally stored. Any exceptions are automatically flagged and the information is then pushed out to council staff to process. The person who lodged the DA can also log on at any time to view the progress of applications.

Since the solution went live at the end of 2009, more than 1000 DA enquiries have been made online every month, which has allowed the council call centre team to concentrate on solving the more complex customer enquiries. While the call centre continues to handle more than 3,000 development application related calls every month, response times are faster and customer service is improved.

In addition to cutting waiting time for other calls, ratepayers have benefited because data is more accurate as human error from the re-keying of data has been eliminated.

In addition to private and investment property DAs, the council also receives online applications from builders.

When the system first went live, this group was required to pay fees upfront, but after consulting builders using the system, the council received feedback that the person lodging the DA is not necessarily authorised to make payment.   This prompted the Council to change its processes and invoices can now be issued separately.

Data security was also flagged as a potential issue so the Council and TechnologyOne worked together to ensure no payment information would be searchable online.

The TechnologyOne Property & Rating software upgrade also resulted in better overall performance and the Council was able to integrate its own service request functionality with TechnologyOne ECM to improve workflows and business process management.

Mr Newman said the system's flexibility allowed changes to happen quickly and easily, and that there were no technical issues around the upgrade.

"Once the DA functionality was demonstrated to staff, engagement was immediate and refinements to the system were made quickly by the TechnologyOne team," Mr Newman said.

"Building it was only part of the picture.  When our development officers saw the system in practice, they immediately started talking about ways it could be used and modified to further improve services.

"For example, when the development officers realised they remained anonymous, they asked for this to be changed so the applicant would know who was processing their application.

"It was this type of ownership that really got us excited about the possibilities."

The council is now actively promoting its online services through a number of channels, and believes the move has provided greater options for a richer and more efficient experience for its ratepayers and residents.

City of Port Adelaide Enfield is now scoping a project to upgrade its suite of TechnologyOne software including Financials and Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and to increase the number of eServices available.