If you want to see the future of work, go west.
Mayo County Council is undertaking a significant digital transformation that will enable it to work smarter. It’s a journey that is optimising operations, empowering employees and creating a better experience for the citizens of Mayo, at home and abroad.
“Two years ago we began looking at upgrading all our systems, from servers to phones, to locations and websites,” says Liam Hanrahan, acting director of services for communications, IS and corporate development at Mayo County Council.
Like all county councils, Mayo’s provides a range of external services such as housing, economic development and tourism, to internal ones such as human resource management.
[Unite your workforce: Click here to download Microsoft's Unite Your Workforce e-book]
On top of that, its 1,200 staff work in a range of locations. “Our headquarters is in Castlebar but we have offices throughout the county plus fire stations, depots, sports locations, enterprise offices and Greenways and tourism attractions to manage,” explains Hanrahan.
“Nationally, all the local authorities know an upgrading of systems is required but we felt there was no point in sitting back and waiting for someone else to come up with a solution.”
Instead it worked with Microsoft. “As with any transformation, it starts with an internal conversation,” says Hanrahan. “It’s about establishing where it is you want to go and what digital budget strategy you have to get you there,” says Hanrahan.
One of the results will be a move from paper-based job application forms to online recruitment solutions. This doesn’t just bring internal efficiencies but helps with the attraction and retention of talent too.
“It’s about getting the best people to apply for jobs in Mayo. Anything that can help more people apply for jobs helps us,” says Hanrahan.
“We want to get the best engineers, management, support and tech people we can. To attract them we need to have the best systems in place.”
As Peter Hynes, chief executive of Mayo County Council, stressed to Microsoft at the start of this journey “we want to ensure that the innovations that we put in place engage not only our staff but also create innovations that will support us to engage with the wider community.”
Mayo County Council is the lead authority in the western region for climate action, requiring collaborative work from staff in a number of counties along the western seaboard.
By introducing Microsoft Teams, personnel at various locations can share files and participate in virtual meetings via Skype for Business as part of their work to develop climate change strategies.
It has also helped reduce email clog, a major impediment to productivity while a new document management solution helps ensure there is one source for all documents.
Document sharing solutions do away with the need for unnecessary travel too, reducing not just time costs but the health and safety implications of having people on the road. “It’s a better use of resources and a hugely efficient way of working,” Hanrahan says.
The amount of storage you can lose simply by keeping copies of everything is significant
Good records and document management play an important role in GDPR compliance also. Microsoft Teams helps here too, not least because it avoids unnecessary duplication. “The amount of storage you can lose simply by keeping copies of everything is significant,” he says.
The digital journey Mayo County Council is on will also help it engage better with young people. As “digital natives”, these citizens expect to engage with organisations online. “A lot of engagement is needed with younger people and it has to go deeper than social networking. Microsoft allows us do that,” says Hanrahan.
The partnership has been mutually beneficial. “Mayo County Council has been a leading light in relation to its desire to embrace technology and working with it has been part of our journey as well,” says Frank O'Donnell, public sector lead, Microsoft Ireland. “A lot of people look at Microsoft and see Windows, Word, Excel, but our product set has evolved to encompass very complex supports for organisations in terms of communications, teamwork and the sharing of information right across the workplace environment.”
For a transformation such as Mayo’s to work, good change management practice is vital and here too Microsoft’s team can help. “We provide the tools and solutions that make a more flexible work environment that is easy to work in. It’s important to communicate it well and to show people what’s involved to bring them with you,” says O’Donnell.