Controlling costs with insightful data

Overview

As part of Melton City Council’s ongoing strategy to automate processes and capture important performance data, we utilised our innovative Insight to Action approach to delivering an extensible reporting platform that was designed with the business value first and then delivered using technology.

The solution was utilised by the Executive Team to capture labour movements within Departments and projects to ensure the people budget that was agreed upon at the start of the Financial Year was then managed successfully throughout the year that followed.  This simple premise saw Ways of Working adjusted to support new workflows and processes across the Council, highlighting when a position was changed (added/removed/adjusted) or a person’s cost was altered.  These were all governed by approvals and audit trails that were added to the final reporting.

All these outcomes were conceptualised within our specialised Service Design process that connects business processes to technology and allows for the Architecture to fit into the existing technical environment.

We couldn’t have got this far without the amazing specification and design work done in the initial phase of the project as well. It really ensured we got off to a good start & have delivered the solution the business was looking for.”

Approach

Our approach consisted of three phases, Discovery, Insight, Build

Discovery – Facilitated workshops and stakeholder interaction to understand the desired business outcomes and prioritise those against project capacity.  The output of this phase was a Project Charter that aligned each group with the desired outcomes and a set of requirements.

Insight – led by our Service Design framework, to-be processes were documented that established the needed inputs/outputs of each step, human actors, system integrations required and reporting data that would be captured.  These were clearly documented and easy to follow and test and allowed the Build team to understand what was required.

Build – Within our solution architecture (described below) were several moving parts.  Our team was able to work in parallel (efficiency) building to the interfaces of the Service Design to assemble the front-end, logic, data and reporting layers within a 3-month period.  The outputs were verified with users and stakeholders against the requirements and Service Design before being released for full use across the council.

Our Solution

Our solution utilised the best of the Microsoft PowerPlatform, combined with Solution Architecture and Human-centred Design.  The Design elements showed out in a concise Service Design that illustrated the desired process, outputs, systems and benefits that supported the development of a fit-for-purpose model-driven PowerApp on the Microsoft Power Platform. The model-driven Power App supported capturing of data and automating workflow to simplify business processes. PowerAutomate was used to automate the collection of events and integrate with corporate systems (via Azure Functions) to aggregate into the data layer (Dataverse) and then produce beautiful, value-driven reports using PowerBI.

Extensions were then added to expand the labour management to include organisation-reporting lines, approval activities and executive reporting. 

Power Apps
Power Automate
Power BI

Results

The results in the first year of use were spectacular

  • There was a 95% reduction in work with data being available in 1 day for what previously would have taken 3 weeks (and 11 spreadsheets) to compile.
  • Financially, having this information close to hand saw a multi-million dollar return by ensuring that spending was accounted for accurately as the Council operated with the right headcount to deliver services to its people.

The Municipal Association of Victoria also recognised the project as the 2023 winner of the MAV Technology Awards for Excellence.