Hobsons Bay City Council

June 23, 2021

5 min read

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About Hobsons Bay City Council

Situated about 10 kilometres west of the Melbourne CBD, the local government area of Hobsons Bay includes 12 suburbs and covers an area of approximately 66 square kilometres. The council services close to 100,000 residents.

Hobsons Bay City Council gets ahead of the curve with unified communications in the cloud

Roger Verwey, Manager Digital Services at Hobsons Bay City Council sees his team as an enabler for his organisation by providing staff with a seamless and consistent technology experience. “When IT can achieve a positive user experience, staff are more productive, there’s a greater level of wellbeing and staff retention – this helps the organisation to provide a higher and more consistent level of service to our community”.

It was with this in mind that Hobsons Bay City Council’s IT team worked to support a number of projects within the organisation. One major project being the complete renovation of the Civic Centre to offer more public spaces for the community, the creation of contemporary office space for staff, and a move to Activity Based Working.  Another parallel project included the digital transformation of Council services to improve operational efficiency and better outcomes for the community.

Underpinning this transformation, was the implementation of a communications solution that was both secure and would strike a good balance between meeting current and future needs and aspirations at the Council.  The Hobsons Bay IT Team needed to move quickly to deliver these requirements under a compressed time frame.

A more mobile approach

With a move to Activity Based Working and a number of new video conferencing meeting rooms, the team needed to integrate communications so that the system would work seamlessly whether Council staff were in the office, in a meeting room, or at home.

Telstra Calling for Office 365 was a logical choice – a fully mobile telephony platform that was fully integrated with the Microsoft platform that Council was already very reliant upon. Telstra Calling for Office 365 empowers people to work more effectively, when and where they need to, by enabling them to make calls to landlines or mobiles within Microsoft Teams.

While the Microsoft Teams solution worked well for staff interactions, Council still needed a unified system that would allow it to interact with the public effectively. Council ultimately decided to go with two systems – Telstra Calling for Office 365 and Telstra Contact Centre Genesys Cloud, which links customer interaction across voice, email, web chat, social media and SMS. While more complex, these dual solutions would offer a richer, more collaborative and mobile-friendly platform.

Telstra worked with long time partner and Cloud Collective member IComm, and CVT, to develop the full collaborative unified communications solution for Hobsons Bay City Council within local government procurement requirements and with single billing. IComm provided technical support and project management for the migration to Telstra Calling for Office 365, while CVT supported the transition to a fully cloud-based call centre with Telstra Contact Centre Genesys Cloud.

“The governance structure was critical and worked very well for this project – Telstra had ultimate responsibility for the project, so if something went awry, we had a single entity to escalate to – plus we had the Telstra preferred partners, IComm and CVT, to work through the detail and manage the change effectively,” Mr Verwey says.

Implementation kicked off in February 2020. This turned out to be great timing as staff were able to shift to working from home seamlessly when the COVID-19 lockdown hit.  Meanwhile, the partnership enabled the highly skilled IT team at Council to meet the increased needs of its many users in a compressed time frame.

“This telecommunications project has helped put us ahead of the curve. Having a fully unified communication system is a massive leap ahead in terms of mobility and flexibility. It has made us a much more productive and resilient organisation.” – Roger Verwey, Manager Digital Services, Hobsons Bay City Council.

A seamless transition

The results have been welcomed by staff across Council. Adoption of Microsoft Teams by staff has been significant, with over 700 staff now regularly using the system to communicate and share and collaborate on documents. The solution was also extended to Council’s field staff enabling better communication with our valued frontline workers.

Telstra Calling for Office 365 and Telstra Contact Centre Genesys Cloud are integrated, meaning that everything can be done within one portal and teams also have a seamless view of everyone’s availability. The Microsoft Teams mobile app means that staff can not only work from anywhere, but also make business calls via their mobile phones without exposing their personal number (better supporting BYOD programs).

The extension of Telstra Calling for Office 365 to field staff, who make up a significant proportion of the Council’s workforce, makes it easier for them to stay in touch, collaborate and feel part of the team. The adoption of ‘Microsoft Teams Rooms’ that provides hybrid video conferencing has also improved engagement with staff working remotely and with our community members.  The Council’s CEO uses the system too, for weekly “Huddles” – Live Streamed Events to share organisation-wide updates and bring staff together in a secure environment.

“The feedback from the executive team at Council has been great. Mostly ‘Why didn’t we do this sooner?” Mr Verwey says.

25 contact centre staff now have access to detailed reporting that provides insights into staff availability, call waiting times and time on calls, all of which helps to support improvement in customer experience.   Perhaps most importantly, 700 staff now have the mobility to work from anywhere – even more important since the pandemic and the shift to working from home.

The success of the deployment is a great testament to the relationship between Telstra, CVT and IComm. Change management was critical, with training and adoption support playing a key role in helping staff members appreciate the benefits of having a unified communications system at this time.

Looking ahead, the teams will continue to work together as IComm will provide ongoing training refreshers for staff, assistance with onboarding new team members, and enablement to make sure staff get the most out of new features.

Beyond this, the next focus for the Hobsons Bay IT team is improving the online customer user experience. “The focus to date has been very much on the internal business and how we can operate more efficiently, a big driver being the shift to activity-based working and new office designs, but that’s going to be our next big project.”