Funding for system replacement approved

Published on 18 August 2022

Council's HQ is a brutalist concrete building typical of the early 70s.

Palmerston North City Council earlier this month approved additional funding to replace the organisation’s finance and regulatory system. 

The extra $2.5 million brings the total cost to replace Council’s ageing system to $7.3 million. 

The finance system is used for everything from paying our suppliers and contractors (it processes hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of payments each year), to holding our rates billing information for our ratepayers and customers, and helping with our planning, regulatory and infrastructure based services (for example, dog registration, consents and wheelie bins). 

Acting Chief Executive Chris Dyhrberg says the new system, to be provided by Civica, is cloud based.  

“This technology replacement is necessary as our current system, Ozone, has become outdated. Its provider has indicated it will stop supporting it before long. It is vital we have a robust replacement in place before this occurs.” 

He says the new Civica system gives better data reporting, which will help Council understand where we are doing things well and where we can make improvements. It will help us provide a better service to the people of Palmy, our customers, through supporting data-driven decisions for improved business and customer interactions with Council.  

This project was initiated back in 2019 through a procurement process to find a replacement. Civica was chosen as the provider to replace our existing Ozone system. 

While some work has been underway during that time, there have been delays in progressing the project, including the pandemic stalling onsite implementation involvement by the Civica experts from Australia. Some gaps between the old and the new system were also identified.  

Mr Dyhrberg says during that time we sought an independent review of the project, which looked at our procurement process and recommended Council continues with the implementation of the Civica system. 

“It was prudent and vital to us that we sought independent advice at this pivotal moment in the project, to provide reassurance to our ratepayers and elected members that we should continue with Civica and commit the added investment needed. Civica is used by many other councils around the country and we’ve been able to also get valuable reassurance and feedback from them.” 

The extra $2.5 million approved by Council is made up of costs associated with supply chain issues, and more requirements on staff regarding their involvement in the project to ensure the hundreds of different processes for every use of the system are clearly scoped and documented, to ensure the new system will be able to do the same – and make improvements. This work and the pre-implementation phase mean we’re needing to backfill staff from different parts of Council to work on the project and we also need some external contractors for specialist technical roles where we don’t have internal expertise.  

As well as moving all the processes, documents and systems onto the new system for launch on 1 July 2023, there will also be robust testing and training to ensure that the launch is a success, staff know how to use the new system – and therefore our residents, suppliers and contractors have a far improved customer experience when working with us.