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UC Public Sector Case Study in Focus: Microsoft and TDC – UC Today


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Accelerating digital transformation with Microsoft 
For companies in the public sector landscape, transitioning into the new age of unified communication and digital transformation can be complex. This is particularly true for groups with years of investment in legacy technology and processes.  
Accessing the best possible results often means working with a partner capable of adapting to suit your needs. Fortunately, companies like Microsoft offer not just a flexible ecosystem of tools for unified communication and collaboration but a wide variety of certified partners too. Companies like Information Leadership, Microsoft Gold Partners, and IT experts can work with Microsoft to deliver unique solutions to specific public sector problems.  
For the Tasman District Council (TDC), the versatile solutions of the Microsoft ecosystem, paired with the guidance offered by Information Leadership, led to rapid and efficient digital transformation. Here’s how Microsoft, TDC, and Information Leadership worked together. 
Though small compared to some countries, New Zealand is diverse, with more than 75 named councils across the nation. Each council plays a crucial role in overseeing its area’s resources, people, and infrastructure. These district councils are large, complex, and brimming with lots of staff to manage and strict regulatory requirements.  
Tasman District Council is one of these crucial council groups responsible for performing the functions of both a city and regional council. This means the group is liable for dealing with various activities from sewerage systems to dog licensing. Each area of work requires large data sets governed by specific regulations.  
Unfortunately, for some time, TDC has found itself struggling to deal with outdated processes, including paper-based data management, making it harder to keep track of important information. Even the workflows running digitally were based on an ageing system, making the council slow, unproductive, and often frustrated.  
According to the CIO of TDC, Steve Manners, in some respects, the group describes itself as being 15 or 20 years behind other organisations.  
The Tasman District Council finally decided it was time to make a change in 2020 and reached out to Microsoft Partner Information Leadership for help replacing an ageing environment. However, just as the project began, the country suddenly found itself in Level 4 lockdown, presenting a significant roadblock.  
Only around 1 in 5 TDC employees had the tools required to work from home, making continued business extremely difficult. However, rather than putting the digital transformation process on hold, the TDC decided to move even faster toward its goal.  
According to the Chief Executive of TDC, there was a huge temptation to say the timing wasn’t right when the pandemic began. However, the group believed this would have led to a considerable loss in momentum. Instead, the team decided to take the plunge and go all-in.  
Information Leadership worked with TDC to develop four key solutions for streamlining business processes built through the Microsoft 365 stack. The first challenge was consolidating information in a way that boosted productivity and ensured compliance in a flexible workplace. The result was a new modern information system (known as DORIS) equipped to handle more than 750,000 documents. 
Once the documents were moved into the Microsoft stack, employees could find the information they needed more rapidly and in one place. For instance, a digital property search in the new system allowed the group to locate all the content related to a single property, from animal control issues to building consents, in one view. The staff are now accessing 4,500 documents per day rather than sorting through paper records. 
The second step in the TDC digital transformation roadmap was the introduction of Microsoft Teams, which was introduced at the start of lockdown. The Information Leadership team created a clear framework for organising all information in Teams, so staff could find all the information they needed quickly and the people they needed to deal with.  
Teams is now a critical part of the way TDC staff members communicate, with 300+ person town hall meetings now hosted over Teams, giving staff live updates from leadership.  
The third part of the solution was change management, implemented to ensure the project didn’t just focus on changing computer systems but also on altering the way TDC staff could work and behave. The Information Leadership group offered training to get teams up-to-date quickly. What’s more, over 300 staff members attended an Expo event, and mentors were used to fast-track the Teams rollout in lockdown with video training sessions.  
The technology is still in use for training today, saving the council money and allowing staff access to a significant resource they can regularly refer back to.  
The final aspect of the Microsoft-driven solution built for TDC was using Microsoft’s Power Platform to empower TDC business analysts in solving problems and sharing important information with residents in an easy-to-digest format. This has been very useful in the water management area, where a system using Power BI can show real-time water levels and water restriction levels. Being able to see this information in an organised and graphical manner has been very important for users. 
Power Automate has also helped to streamline the process of registering internal contractors. Before Microsoft, the Information Services team would have to constantly follow up with individuals to see whether contracts had been signed. Now, the new system means contractors can automatically generate forms on a website which can then be delivered to the right person. 
The project with Microsoft and Information Leadership has allowed TDC to access massive gains in efficiency and productivity and significant reductions in organisational risk.  
According to Steve, the transition into this new digital landscape will ensure TDC’s systems and processes can remain current moving into the future, no matter what happens. By eliminating decades’ worth of on-premises legacy systems, the company has shot forward “a decade” in digital transformation results. The organisation plans to continue using the Microsoft 365 environment to stay ahead of the curve in the future.  
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