SYDNEY – 3 April, 2020 – Ballarat Council has ushered in a new era of user-led development, advocating that employees able to harness Excel to build their own spreadsheets or PowerPoint to craft presentations, are fully able to create low-code or no-code applications with Microsoft Power Apps.
It’s an approach with widespread appeal as Ballarat users race to develop solutions to streamline their daily tasks and boost service levels for the region’s residents.
There are now 38 members of Ballarat’s Office 365 Power User Community who between them have created 335 Power Apps and 592 Flows. While not all are in production it is a clear signal of the innovation appetite in the Council which bodes well for ongoing efficiency and new resident services.
With a population of more than 105,000 today, the regional city of Ballarat- 110 km north west of Melbourne – is growing rapidly and forecast to reach 140,000 by 2030. To meet the needs of that growing community Ballarat Council has undertaken a digital transformation, embracing cloud computing and implementing Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 to ensure the scalability and resilience required to service a burgeoning community.
Rhett Nunn, manager for ICT Solution Design and Development said; “Moving to a cloud-based platform was really a big driver to remove those risks, reduce costs, and make it a lot easier for us to implement better disaster recovery and high availability. Ultimately, we wanted to get our hands on modern building blocks to solve business problems.”
Dynamics 365 was selected because, according to Nunn; “It gives us broad capability to meet our immediate needs, and the agility to adapt to the future. Whereas if we’d gone with one of the competitors we would be missing key pieces. We wanted a well-rounded platform and we found strength in Microsoft’s offering.” There were some gaps in Dynamics, but Nunn says those have been plugged by light-weight solutions using the Office 365 power platform, and serverless capability in Azure.
Ballarat was supported by Olikka, for the lift and shift to Azure exercise, and DXC to help with the replacement of the financial management system with Dynamics 365.
Ballarat has also encouraged IT users in all departments to take advantage of PowerApps and Flow to create low-code or no-code applications. The IT team has created some governance guardrails and maintains control of Ballarat’s data – but is reaping the reward of user-led innovation across the organisation.
Applications have been developed that automate and streamline Council’s gift register obligations, manage rostering for council swimming pools, libraries animal and shelter, and simplify the collection of data from school crossing inspections.
According to Nunn; “If you can use Excel and PowerPoint, then you can make a Power App.”
Lee Hickin, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Australia said, “It is Microsoft’s ultimate goal to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to do more. Ballarat Council serves as a beacon to show other local government organisations how simple–to–use applications like Power Apps and Flow can unleash employee innovation and create new services and solutions.
“Adopting our three clouds – Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 also ensures that Ballarat Council is able to scale services as the local population grows, have access to all its data to help develop innovative services that new residents crave, and also fully engage its firstline workers.”
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.
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