Digital transformation helps Huntingdonshire District Council deliver time and cost savings

Huntingdonshire District Council has managed to streamline business processes, and deliver time and cost savings, by switching to new Software as a Service (SaaS) from Australian ERP provider TechnologyOne.

By replacing old legacy finance systems, which had been in place for 20 years, with TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil SaaS solution, the council achieved a number of benefits, from reducing costs and downtime caused by on-premise IT upgrades, through to becoming more organisationally resilient to unforeseen crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council has also digitally transformed many of its finance operations, delivering huge time savings by automating manual business processes, such as sorting through and scanning hundreds of paper invoices and purchase orders, which used to take days. By doing so, Huntingdonshire District Council has managed to reduce its bank account reconciliation process, that used to require numerous spreadsheets and considerable data cross checking, down from a month-long process to between seven and 10 days.

More than 200 council employees, including dozens of budget holders and the finance team can now access TechnologyOne’s secure SaaS system wherever they are via their Council laptop. This has added to greater business intelligence across the council, as well as ensuring faster access to important financial information.

“In this post-COVID world, there's going to be stresses and strains on local authority budgets. Councils have to be even more on the ball when it comes to knowing what their income and expenditure is,” said Huntingdonshire District Council’s Chief Finance Officer, Claire Edwards. “Real-time data is going to be absolutely key for people making decisions in councils going forward and that’s something we’re very much focused on.”

“The system is really intuitive and by having more information accessible in a self-service way, business managers now have more visibility and ownership around forecasting and budgets. They can also drill down in granular detail to even see copies of supplier invoices in the same system,” she said.

By moving to TechnologyOne SaaS, the council’s finance team has also managed to function as normal during the pandemic, despite office and council service closures.

“Thankfully, remote working hasn’t been a problem for us, as TechnologyOne dove-tails nicely into our ‘Council Anywhere’ approach, where employees can access business systems via laptops from home,” said Edwards. “But where TechnologyOne really came into its own, was in helping the council pay COVID-related business support grants to local businesses.”

To support local businesses during the pandemic, the UK government asked councils to support them with awarding grants. The finance team managed to draw upon the extra functionality that TechnologyOne’s system offered. Huntingdonshire has paid all its business grants out to local companies via TechnologyOne.

TechnologyOne was first awarded the contract in 2018, following a joint procurement process conducted by three councils Huntingdonshire, Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire.

By switching to TechnologyOne’s SaaS solution, the software company now seamlessly upgrades the council’s software platform on their behalf, instead of council on-premise IT staff having to do it. This has saved the finance department huge amounts of downtime.

“When we used to upgrade the old system, we lost three to four days use, whereas now it can all be done remotely overnight. Security patches are going in without the system being down as well,” said Edwards. “The joint procurement has been beneficial for a combination of reasons. There’s an expectancy it will have cost benefits for all three authorities,” said Edwards.

TechnologyOne CEO Ed Chung said: “It’s great to hear how our OneCouncil solution helped Huntindgonshire District Council digitally transform and remain resilient during the lockdown. The pandemic has really shown how important a role SaaS can play in helping local authorities become stronger, agile and more efficient.”

“The council’s ability to rapidly adapt, using TechnologyOne’s solution, to pay COVID-related business support grants to local businesses during the crisis, is also testament to the malleability of our software, and the considerable percentage of our revenue that we invest into R&D and product innovation.”

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