Hamilton City Council Local Government Delivers Improved Service and Transparency with Enhanced ERP Solution Hamilton City Council’s legacy ERP solution was old and unsupported. Thus, it was already costly to maintain and also posed an organizational risk. The local government organization faced a choice: to upgrade its existing platform or to find an alternative solution. In light of the city council’s drive to improve information access, quality, timeliness and security, as well as introduce process and efficiency automation, the Council chose to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics AX, which it now uses to manage resources and finances. The Council now enjoys cost savings from operations and maintenance, improved compliance with government regulations, increased process efficiency and improved usability due to IT and users’ familiarity with Microsoft products. Business Needs Hamilton City Council (HCC) is responsible for managing New Zealand’s largest inland City and fourth largest overall, with more than 150,000 residents in its oversight. Hamilton City is the principal center for employment, retail, entertainment and business activities in the Waikato region, and is likewise the region’s cultural and recreation hub. Being a government organization, transparency and accountability is a key focus for HCC, which runs 22 business units within the organization. The council has launched a new Financial Management Information System as part of its Business Excellence Framework, geared toward aligning systems and processes for measuring performance against international benchmarks. This fulfills the Council’s business requirements in improving information access, quality, timeliness and security. HCC’s existing legacy ERP solution was no longer a fit for the Council’s current business footprint. Moreover, it was already at end-of-life and required a significant and costly upgrade. “Our existing ERP had been in place for 10 years already,” says Eion Hall, Chief Information Officer, HCC. “We considered upgrading it to the latest version, but even that would have required a significant investment.” Furthermore, the legacy ERP solution no longer met compliance requirements, in terms of financial reporting. “Our organization had concerns with poor financial controls, because information availability was either incomplete or inaccurate,” says Richard Briggs, Chief Financial Officer. After due diligence, the city council decided to migrate to an ERP solution that would deliver more value to the organization. Solution In selecting an ERP solution for its increased visibility and transparency needs, HCC considered its use of existing Microsoft platforms within the organization, such as SharePoint, which it uses for internal collaboration and the Council’s Hosted eServices platform. While the Council also evaluated other platforms from other vendors, it looked to take advantage of its existing investment in Microsoft solutions. The Council ultimately decided on Microsoft Dynamics AX due to the following factors: level of functionality, robustness of the platform and total cost of ownership. In implementing its new ERP solution, HCC looked into the referenceability of the implementation, hoping to likewise encourage other city councils to follow suit. HCC engaged the services of Koorb Consulting, which executed the design and implementation within five months, and the actual migration after another five months. The two organizations worked closely with Microsoft in order to resolve migration concerns early on, particularly with regard to the complexity of the working environment, given the council’s multiple responsibilities. Benefits After migrating to Microsoft Dynamics AX, the Hamilton City Council immediately felt the benefits of improved visibility and improved operational efficiency, which has become a big part in improving community outlook toward the local government organization. “Ultimately, our shift to Dynamics AX was beneficial in change management,” says Hall. “We are running more efficiently, with reduced maintenance and training costs. The community benefits from the improved transparency in terms of financial reporting by the City Council.” Improved visibility and transparency. The move from an unsupported solution to Microsoft Dynamics AX has enabled improved visibility for both internal users and external stakeholders. Dynamics AX provides the finance and management team better tools to analyze and report on information regarding the council’s activities, including month-end and year-end reporting. Meanwhile, easier access to information also aids with transparency, which has become the onus of better governance. Risk reduction and improved compliance. Running an unsupported ERP solution posed risks in terms of data inaccuracy. “There had been concerns with a lack of transparency before,” says Briggs, adding that this led to a “reputation for poor financial control.” HCC was therefore vulnerable to non-compliance with local government regulations. “With an ERP solution meeting modern industry standards, Hamilton City Council is ensured of improved compliance with financial reporting rules and regulations, whilst providing HCC with a platform for better financial insights leading to better organizational decision-making and performance.” Cost efficiency. “Our previous ERP was a standalone solution that was expensive to manage and integrate with our other applications,” says Hall. “Had we decided to upgrade to the latest version, it would have entailed significant costs.” Thus, the move to Dynamics AX resulted in lower total cost of ownership. Ease of migration. Early into the migration process, HCC and Koorb sought the assistance of Microsoft in resolving data cleansing and migration issues. Microsoft representatives did on-site training to assist both teams with the company’s new budgeting platform, and likewise ensured close coordination as follow-up, should any new issues arise. Complete migration was done over the course of 10 months, even with 270,000 fixed asset records in the previous ERP. Replicability. In evaluating ERP solutions, HCC considered how well these could be replicated amongst other local authorities and local Government organizations in New Zealand. The success in migration and the benefits that HCC derives demonstrates the value of Dynamics AX for large organizations. As its next steps, HCC is looking to deploy additional modules to support added business units, including recreational facilities, animal control, land information management and regulatory functions. In the future, the Council is also looking to implement a hybrid or public cloud deployment of its core business applications.