How Hamilton, NZ, is doing more with nearly half the systems

Wed, 2017-04-05 06:27 -- Kevin Ebi

When your team can spend more time adding value to your organisation, as opposed to spending time ‘managing’ infrastructure, you have a real opportunity to see not only big savings, but also support a culture of innovation.

This story of the City of Hamilton’s transition to a consumption-based hybrid cloud model is one that could be a model for so many local authorities across Australia and New Zealand who want to ‘right-size’ their infrastructure and expenditure, and save money.

As the market place continues to offer more innovative solutions to help cities deliver better services, it is critical to have clear goals and principles in mind to guide your procurement process. In Hamilton’s case, one clear goal included the ability “to change technologies, if needed, without changing partners, and to be able to change partners without changing technologies.” — Adam Beck

It’s unusual for a city to be able to slash an expense a third or more and even be able to maintain a level of service, let alone improve it.

But that’s what the New Zealand city of Hamilton was able to do by switching to a more modern form of cloud computing, and it’s a great case study for other cities that are burdened with high costs stemming from under-used systems.

Further, using technology from Council Global Lead Partner Microsoft, it was able to make the transition in just a few months and saw results almost immediately.

No longer paying for service it doesn’t use
Like many cities, Hamilton was using a variety of different systems to accomplish various tasks. The problem is, each comes with a service cost that’s often fixed, whether you use the system heavily or not.

Its payroll system was an especially good example of this. The city council points out that human resources used the payroll system for just a couple of hours per week, but it had to pay for that service as if it used it around-the-clock all month.

By combining all of its cloud-based services into a single platform running on Microsoft Azure, it’s now paying only for what it uses. The city council’s chief information officer said after the switch, Hamilton was essentially able to shut down 30-40% of its systems and nobody even noticed.

Already, Hamilton estimates it’s saving NZD$30,000 per month.

Laying the groundwork for the future
The next step is to leverage the capabilities in its new platform to make its staff — especially field workers — more productive. Its new platform is much more nimble, which it will use to help workers do their jobs from anywhere.

One project in the works will help building inspectors become more productive. They will be able to use their mobile devices to prepare documentation while they’re on-site as opposed to having to take notes and documentation for processing back at city hall.

The city’s IT staff is shifting their roles now that they’re spending less time on basic administrative tasks. The IT department is now collaborating with various city departments, helping them to understand how they can use technology more effectively to improve service for the public.