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Greening Australia flourishes as Dynamics delivers deeper data insights

Greening Australia is a not-for profit-organisation that does what it says on the tin by restoring and reconnecting Australia’s unique landscapes so that people and nature can thrive – now and into the future.

In one year alone, it has established more than 15 million plants, collected more than 2,000 Kg of native seed, conserved 7,6000 hectares of land, built 850 Km of fencing, and engaged more than 6,000 volunteers and 229 schools around the country. It’s now 37 years old and has had a massive cumulative impact on the ecological health of the nation already.

Among its key 2030 goals are to have by then planted 1 billion natives; restored a million hectares of habitat; conserved 20 flagship threatened animal species; restored 3,000 hectares of wetlands and rivers; and, sequestered a million tonnes of carbon.

With 30 locations, around 150 staff and funding drawn from business partnerships, three levels of government and philanthropic donations, as well as hundreds of projects and thousands of volunteers, Greening Australia has a lot of moving parts to manage.

Formerly heavily reliant on spreadsheets, the organisation has recently deployed Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central as its all-in-one business management system and Power BI for analytics and reporting, which together are providing unprecedented transparency across the enterprise.

Robyn Myrdycz is the ICT Manager for Greening Australia and describes the “lightbulb moment” when it became clear just what impact the solution would have.

“The moment was when one of our staff members was able to use Power BI to build a dashboard that gave us a snapshot of all of our projects against our financials, and the impact that we’re making on the ground. The power of Dynamics and Power BI represented a new era for Greening Australia; strengthening our ability to map and monitor the impact of individual projects against our five national programs.”

“We’re ecstatic about Power BI and the way that it’s helping us report and learn about the inspiring work of our teams across the country,” says Myrdycz.

Greening Australia had already made its first foray to cloud, introducing Office 365 to simplify IT.

Formed from nine separate organisations, each with its own IT systems, Greening Australia had inherited a patchwork quilt of technology. Office 365 was the first step toward getting everyone on the same page.

Myrdycz explains that; “The Office 365 solution really offered that affordability and scalability, remaining on the latest technology, and by reducing this administration cost, we can invest those resources into delivering our on-ground projects.”

Deeper data insights

One of the key issues that Greening Australia needed to address was that it operates as a project-based organisation – but didn’t have a project management system. Instead it was wrangling spreadsheets, as well as a series of disparate applications across the organisation.

It went out to tender and selected Microsoft Gold Partner, Dynamic Business IT solutions (DBITS), to work on a Dynamics 365 Business Central deployment, recognising that the platform matched 80 per cent of Greening Australia’s needs out of the box and the ad on JobsPro ensured that they could manage their projects and tenders and contract management within the system, and also offered a roadmap for the future that would allow functionality to be added incrementally.

Myrdycz explains; “We chose to do it in smaller, bite-size pieces, because many staff weren’t used to the regimented and structured processes that are the foundation of a good business system. This deployment method allowed us to manage the significant change that this new system would bring.”

“We designed our own customised in-house training program which used our internal language and focused on the way our users would interact with Dynamics 365 according to our business processes.”

According to Kris Manche, CEO of DBITS; “The approach that Greening Australia is taking to their digital transformation journey sees Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central with JobsPro act as a comprehensive business management solution. This allows the organisation to engage with stakeholders, empower both employees and volunteers, optimise operations and transform services all with the goal of maximising the positive impact for the environment.”

One of the key benefits of Dynamics 365 comes from the project management module with JobsPro. That allows Greening Australia staff to record the location of the job, and this spatial data is used to visually display its projects, increasing mapping capabilities for its programs.

“Now that we are able to accurately show our projects and impacts in maps and charts, we can report on the cumulative impact of those projects, allowing us to monitor and track against our goals each year. What we’ve seen so far tells an inspiring story,” says Myrdycz.

Currently running as a hosted solution, Myrdycz has plans to migrate more of the business applications across to Microsoft Azure.

“We’re going to do other things like migrate our files from a hosted file server to SharePoint, expand our use of Power BI, Flow and using Power Apps. We’ve started building quite a few little mobile apps that connect to Dynamics 365 for staff to do things like their vehicle logs and work health and safety inspections.”

Phase two of the digital transformation program will also see Dynamics 365 Business Central deployed to manage Greening Australia’s seed banks, fundraising and marketing functions, and HR functions.

The impact of the digital transformation of Greening Australia has been significant – delivering unprecedented transparency into operations.

“One centralised business system, enhanced by the power of a great reporting tool, integrated with our office apps and available on mobile devices is functionality that is opening the door to many improvements and efficiencies, which will allow us to redirect valuable funds to our on-ground projects,” says Myrdycz.

Which is great for the Australian environment.