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How one water utility revamped its organisation's digital platform

As businesses around the world continue along the path of digitalisation, one water utility shares its experience in selecting the right platform in order to enable flexible working, and improved employee experience and engagement.

City West Water (CWW) is moving to a cloud-based system to digitally transform and modernise its workplace by enabling a standard operating environment for the organisation.

In its pursuit of finding the best technology solution for the business, it explored a number of options and eventually chose to deliver the Modern Workplace built on the Microsoft 365 suite, a platform widely used across the State Government.

CWW Chief Information Officer Jennifer Rebeiro said the utility developed a roadmap to deliver on its Modern Workplace vision, opting for a phased and structured delivery approach of gradually introducing Microsoft 365.

“Strong cross-team collaboration and a phased delivery were the key to the successful roll out. We wanted to ensure employees had the time to process and understand how to use each function, it would never have worked if we introduced everything at one time,” Rebeiro said.

“Change management considerations were a feature from the beginning and successful employee communication and engagement were a priority.

“We wanted to ensure that each step change was as seamless as possible and we did this by providing the work areas with sufficient notice that change was coming, engaging change champions and providing online training and support.”

Rapid adjustment

CWW first rolled out Cloud-based Office applications, which was followed by Exchange Online, OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint Online.

The utility also moved to Windows 10 and provided laptops for all full-time staff to enable a remote working environment and swiftly adapted to accommodate changing business needs in response to the unfolding coronavirus restrictions.

Rebeiro said the day-to-day implications of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic were met with the utility's technology selection, which proved effective in creating a digital workplace that was engaging and collaborative.

“A large proportion of the workforce transitioned to working-from-home in 72 hours including nearly 100 customer service centre staff, who were traditionally located in the office and desktop users,” she said.

“Moving to a cloud-based OneDrive helped improve how employees stored and managed files and the move to SharePoint Online significantly improved our ability to securely share content and collaborate in real-time while working remotely.

“One of the biggest benefits of the Modern Workplace initiative has been the introduction of Teams, which has proven to be extremely valuable for collaborating and connecting with people, especially when working from home.”

Rebeiro said the Modern Workplace initiative had enabled the water retailer to digitally transform the workplace and deliver on employee experience, and remains a high priority.

“We have found that meetings are experiencing a lot more engagement and people can comment or ask questions via chat or simply applaud a colleague’s work, it really has transformed the way we communicate with one another,” she said.

Future plans are in place on the Modern Workplace journey to leverage SharePoint Online to revitalise the businesses intranet, with the aim of improving employee experience and trialling Windows Virtual Desktop and PowerApps technology for an agile workforce.