In 2011, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake devastated Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city. One hundred and eighty five people were killed and the cost of rebuilding put at $15 billion. Like many business and residential homes, Christchurch City's main building was severely damaged and off limits for a year. However, in the chaos of post-quake recovery, Council was never busier. Information was power and comfort to the city's traumatised residents. Rapid activation of new IT services put cloud-based systems in the spotlight.
Cain Duell leads a team of business analysts, part of Christchurch City Council's information management and communication technology operation. He spends his time matching the needs of Council business units with technology. "We stood up lots of solutions quickly. Cloud services are the way to do things fast. But services must be tried and trusted – we can't stand up something that wobbles. Innovation is the other consideration – we must follow important shifts, such as mobile," he said.
Council got its first taste of Salesforce Sales Cloud with a funds and grants system it developed to manage $21 million worth of annual grants to events, sports and community groups. A list of considerations got it thinking about CRM: easing the funding application process; streamlining funding from initial application and grant stages to benefits analysis; integrating document management and financial systems; and complying with New Zealand's Public Recordkeeping Act.
"We assessed many applications and found that most were immature or US-centric. We needed something different," said Duell. "Customers wanted to lodge applications online. CRM would handle the workflow, which goes through many sets of hands: assessors, advisors, peer reviewers, approval bodies, and even councillors. We also like to measure benefits delivered by Council funded events."
Service Cloud accounts and case objects manage funding applications uploaded to the Council self-service portal, called Communities. Here, applicants are able to view the status of their applications and upload supporting documentation. How was the process managed before? Spread sheets. "We had no holistic view; no single source of truth," said Duell.
Council built on its early success with Salesforce, creating an earthquake damage register for Council buildings, called Claimsforce, which profiles Council's 2,700 facilities – pools, libraries, houses and other public amenities – and workflow related to engineering assessments, loss adjusters, and insurance claims. "Development and rollout was completed within three months. From an IT point of view it looks after itself. It's intuitive and users find their way around it themselves. And customisation is about clicks, not code, so we can do most of it ourselves," said Duell.