How a NSW Council is leading the way in Australian digital transformation by focusing on the people, not tech
The Digital Transformation project at a glance
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council (PMHC) implemented Windows 10 and Microsoft Office for their 600 + employees across multiple locations, including an upgrade of the computing environment and commenced rolling out new devices such as mobile tablets.
They partnered with Brisbane based award-winning Global Microsoft Partner, Adopt & Embrace. For over a year in 2017-18, they worked together to unlock value internally and for their community. They also transitioned to Skype for Business from a traditional telephone to headsets and implemented OneNote. Adopt & Embrace spent time designing the implementation, delivering training, group coaching and one-on-one sessions to help people learn to work innovatively and apply new ways to work better.
- 1 year, 2-month project
- 600+ employees impacted
- Local Government
- Multiple locations and field/mobile requirements
- Windows 10 and Microsoft Office Upgrade
- iPads + Mobile devices
- Skype for Business
- People first and opt-in adoption of new technology
- Group, Online and one-on-one training
- Collaborative long-term partnership approach with council and Microsoft Partner
How focusing on empathy transformed our success
Adam Holthouse, Group Manager Digital Technology for PMHC lead the initiative for the council.
He shared, “I had only just come to Port Macquarie-Hastings from another council. When I arrived, this need to upgrade was already here.”
“My own computer couldn’t keep up with the demand I was putting on it, and the productivity at Council needed to improve. The initiative had been around for a couple years and for various reasons not been fully implemented.”
“We were sitting on Windows XP and Office 2007, like a lot of organisations still are. The amount of time to transition and train everyone was something that kept us there.”
“We already had Microsoft products, and had access to these tools but just weren’t using them. To offer the flexibility we desired, we needed to move to cloud-based solutions. There is an alignment with what the tools can provide and where we need to go as a council.”
“In the past, IT would say here is your computer or your upgraded software and go figure it out. I knew I couldn’t do that and we were going from a long-term stable environment to a huge jump for everyone in the technology.” Adam said.
“That’s why we brought in A&E to get people to engage with it – the technology. We did things differently when we partnered with Paul and his team. This was about adoption and people understanding the benefits they get out of it rather than just knowing the tools.”
Support culture shift changes
The Group Manager for Digital Technology used to be the old ICT role but has had a name change as well to reflect how the focus on digital impacts across the whole council. The council values digital so much they wanted the position Adam’s in to reflect their desire to shift to a new way of working and support a culture shift change of being about people, not technology.
Adam initiated asking the council staff what do you need to do in your job and how do you want it to look like? Not everyone at the council has remote devices, but that is where they are heading to. The council is implementing productivity tools such as OneNote and Skype for Business to get more productive.
“From an IT side, there is a beginning and an end. Actually here, the benefits are just starting and it is about embedding this shift for people. What it looks like, is the ability for me as an employee to use the tool in a way it works for me. There is no training on how you must use it. We’ve asked people how they work, and this is how the tools can help you work. This allows people to keep challenging themselves. We educate and learn with our employees using content uploaded to Microsoft Stream. Our people can keep learning, and there is ongoing embedding and continued working together with Adopt & Embrace.”
Care about the people
“We’ve tried to build more empathy,” he said. “This initiative focused on people, and making sure they can get out and serve the community and each other more effectively, rather than focusing on the tech.”
“People are willing to give that little bit extra if you care about people. It’s been a big mindset change.”
The focus on empathy and being customer-centred is something driven by the council’s mission statement – bringing council closer to the community, and they really mean it as proven by a recent award the 2017 AR Bluett Memorial Award for being the most progressive council in the state of New South Wales.
The culture journey, including the values and behaviours built to support the mission, has been led by Adam’s General Manager, Craig Swift-McNair.
“He’s a big driver and leader of the cultural shift,” Adam said.
An example of making empathy real is how they sourced the technology strategy from their people.
Focus on the way they like to work
Adam said, “We did some workshops on personas of the type of work they are doing, what they (the employees) have, what they need (what type of technology solutions) and how can we build more empathy for them in their work.”
Adam explains at the council, the growing empathy culture is “the way we like to work.”
“Putting customers at the centre. Let’s actually do it, rather than just delivery. Let’s do the hard work in understanding how people work first” he said.
It has been a great way of working and the outcomes are supported by the organisation as well as evidenced by a recent employee engagement survey.
General Manager, Craig Swift-McNair told us that ‘If we get engagement with our people right, then a lot of other things naturally fall into place.’
Values, behaviours and culture
“One of my key messages to our entire team is that our organisational values influence our behaviours and our behaviours create the culture of the organisation. We are heavily focused on ensuring we have an open, honest and transparent culture that sees us continually challenging the way we do things. This is why undertaking digital transformation is so important for us i.e. we now have a much better platform from which to transform the way we work.”
“Working with Paul and Adopt & Embrace has been a real shared culture and mindset. Their staff come in and they feel like part of the team.”
“We’ve used a few different approaches with A&E, including workshops, group sessions, informal training, and one on one. Their staff walk around and talk to people. There are always people who will respond and need a variety of ways to learn and we want to support that,” Adam said.
How to implement technology change in your organisation
Adam’s top six tips for a successful adoption
Tip 1: Focus less on the technology and focus more on the people.
Tip 2: Integrate tools to how people work. Go back into the organisation and find out how people are working and how they want to be working.
Tip 3: Design the technology for the people and develop the culture shift.
Tip 4: Employees and teams have the flexibility and freedom to use the tools in a way it works for them, there is no training on how you must use it.
Tip 5: Create local team champions for the software employees use, not IT people, but people good at their job who a person can turn to ask for help on understanding how to do a task better.
Tip 6: Give new employees an on-boarding process in tech with a handbook including a run through of the solutions as well as online resources.
For more information on how Adopt & Embrace can help you with technology change, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at email@example.com or learn more about how we can help you on our website www.adoptandembrace.com
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Foundation Story | Digital Transformation Services
Designed for organisations at the start of their digital transformation that needs the answer to the following questions:
- How can we work better together and create a more enticing working environment for our employees and new recruits?
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- How do we clearly articulate our transformation vision to key stakeholders across the organisation?