Wollondilly Shire Council

This is big, game-changing work we're doing, and it has the potential to completely revolutionise the way councils everywhere do business.”

Simon Adcock, CIO | Wollondilly Shire Council

Freed up an estimated


Wollondilly Shire Council shows the impact of modern, digital apps.

Wollondilly Shire Council is a municipality on Sydney’s southwestern urban fringe that is committed to creating opportunities in partnership with the community that enhance quality of life and the environment by managing growth and providing sustainable services and facilities. 

“And there are a couple of things in [the mission statement] that really stand out as of late,” said Simon Adcock, Wollondilly Shire Council’s CIO. “The part about sustainable services; every dollar we spend on paperwork or processes is a dollar that isn’t being spent on actual services for the community that make people’s lives better. Or the part about managing growth; Wollondilly is doubling in size in an ever-increasingly short space of time, which presents a few challenges for us. We have to be able to support that growth without impacting the environment, without the resources of a large city, and without losing the social fabric of who we are as a community.”

In other words, more and more of Wollondilly’s population is expecting the personalised, “small town” customer experience from city services, but with the kind of speed, scope, and scale they might get in neighboring Sydney. This, combined with the growth in population, means municipal leaders have to do more and serve more using the same resources. Here’s how Mr. Adcock and the team did it. 

Wollondilly’s profile changed, so the council’s foundation had to do the same.

Wollondilly Shire Council used to be a rural community made up largely of mining and farming. It was a different speed and different lifestyle from the big city life of Sydney that was both a haul of a drive and worlds apart all at the same time. But as Sydney continues to grow it is expanding westward towards Wollondilly, making the small community much more accessible to commuters who were looking for a different quality of life. Before long, Wollondilly found itself building more housing, discussing new questions regarding city planning, and supporting more knowledge workers — who typically expect the kind of modern, digital customer experience they receive as a customer of any enterprise-level service. Regardless of the fact that many government organisations have not been able to make the same IT investments because taxpayer funds have to be spent with a different level of scrutiny, business justification, and oversite. 

“Our technology was about 25 years old. It didn’t have the ability to provide the kind of business process and automation we’ve come to expect at standard today. So, the expectations of our customers were going through the roof because we only had the ability to ability to serve people face-to-face or over the phone. Meanwhile, they were used to having an urban council with urban resources,” said Mr. Adcock. “We needed to give people the ability to conduct basic services online.”


Wollondilly Shire Council’s Transformation Objectives

Mr. Adcock and team identified two measurable steps to drive their modernisation strategy: 

  1. Give people the ability to conduct basic services online, 24x7.
  2. Focus more time and resources on mission-critical services, not the clerical work that tends to come with them.

Notice: both are centred on the customer at the heart of the mission. The first is designed with the end-user in mind, building a customer-first mentality into the very foundation of the project. The second focuses on Wollondilly staff, as the employee experience often becomes the customer experience.

Mr. Adcock and the team wanted more for employees too. Wollondilly Shire covers 988 square miles. (For comparison, New York City covers an area that is just over 300 square miles. London is about 607 square miles, and Tokyo is 847 square miles.) Field staff could spend three hours in a car traveling to the location of a building inspection or site visit, take down notes, head back to the office, fill out and file the necessary paperwork, head back out on the next 3-hour drive to the next building inspection...“they were easily spending 60% of their time in the car, and no one wants that,” said Mr. Adcock. “We needed to enable more on-the-ground services and redirect that time and those resources to things that provide value.”

Wollondilly launches a series of apps on the cloud.

The team launched a business automation and customer service system on the Salesforce Customer 360 platform for government. It gives them the tools to build various workflow apps on an as-needed basis, digitising services in a way that truly transforms and modernises Wollondilly’s mission. Including:

Building inspections app

Per the aforementioned building inspections work, Mr. Adcock and team launched an app that not only streamlines this process, but also enables employees out in the field with the same functionality they would have in the office. 

Building inspectors launch the app from their mobile device and are presented with their upcoming appointments, along with information like approved plans, related building code requirements, and so on for each site. Inspectors can refer to this information while conducting a site visit as well as add additional notes, attach photos, and more.  

“Before, all of this information would have been printed out by a team of admin people and left in a stack on the person’s desk for them to come in and pick up before they headed out for the day. Each folder would come back with handwritten notes that had to be manually entered into our systems. If handwriting was hard to read or if a form didn’t make it into the manila folder at some point, the inspector would have to go back on site,” said Mr. Adcock.

Venue booking app

If a resident wants to book, say, a soccer pitch or tennis court they can visit Wollondilly’s website and browse all kinds of information: venue options, hours of operation, available amenities, and more. Once the customer has made a decision, they can then create / log into their account on WOLL Council (Wollondilly’s online community portal for municipal services), and book accordingly. The results: few forms, faster customer service. 

“Before, customers were asked to fill out an application and email it as a PDF, which would then get assigned for review by our intake desk. Once the application was approved, the customer would receive a quote, and then be able to book the venue. I don't know about you, but if I want to play tennis, it's an urge which comes and goes fairly quickly. I don't usually think about booking a court two weeks in advance,“ said Mr. Adcock.


See how these apps work.

Walk through the Venue Booking App step-by-step, and see how it guides the customer through a workflow that’s similar across the other apps. I.e.: see how Wollondilly repurposed design best practices, brought apps to market faster, created a consistent user experience, and is able to do more with less.

Council tax collection

Residents can log into their same WOLL Council account, add their property to their profile, and see their rates, view payment history, see upcoming dues, make payments, or apply for hardships. “Customers don't have to keep copies of their bills, call in to confirm their balance, or drive into the office to pay at the counter. We solved all of that in just two weeks, start to finish implementation time,” said Mr. Adcock. 

Wollondilly demonstrates the value that can come from a modern, digital strategy.

The team started all of this work by launching a proof of concept with the goal of covering costs in the first two years. They ended up covering costs by the end of the third month. “And this approach continues to deliver. We have freed up around $120,000 annually — that’s $120,000 a year that can be spent on improving roads and general infrastructure. That’s $120,000 a year that can go back into the community,” said Mr. Adcock.

Best practices from Wollondilly Shire Council’s app dev strategy

Mr. Adcock and the team demonstrate five best practices in this work. Use them to make your next to-do list. 

And as the team continues to digitise its 200-or-so municipal services — “we’re bringing them online in priority order” — their strategy has been proven by more than the numbers. The feedback Adcock has received from staff includes comments like I get to spend more time doing the things I am qualified for, or I spend less time in the office doing paperwork and more time out in the community, and my job has meaning again. 

“My job has meaning again — that’s why you come into work every day,” said Mr. Adcock. “This is big, game-changing work we're doing, and it has the potential to completely revolutionise the way councils everywhere do business.”

Wollondilly Shire Council’s Bill of Materials

Mr. Adcock and team created these apps using the following building blocks:

  • Service Cloud: Salesforce’s flagship CRM product, optimised for the unique needs of customer service and case management. Learn more

  • Public Sector Solutions: Helps government agencies serve the people faster with out-of-the-box applications designed for government case work. 

  • Experience Cloud: Enables online forms, websites, and community portals that give people a forum to discuss topics of interest, submit service requests, or follow up on the status of an inquiry. Learn more  

  • Salesforce Surveys: Collect feedback, analyse responses, and action survey data. Learn more

  • Lightning Platform: Low-code and no-code tools that enable business users and IT experts alike to design and deploy apps fast. Learn more

“We have the tools in our toolbox to build bespoke solutions quickly and efficiently,” said Mr. Adcock.


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