Tauranga City Council Digital Transformation Project

The Challenge
Tauranga City Council had been using the same ERP system for 20-plus years. The council had made several attempts to upgrade its systems, as the fastest growing City in NZ, the size and scale of the organisation had made it challenging to upgrade, which has led to an end of life ERP platform that no longer meets the needs of the organisation. Previous attempts to change the ERP system have failed due to the size and complexity of an ERP replacement project. Tauranga City Council therefore wanted to take a more iterative approach.

The critical focus for improvement was Tauranga City Council’s financial functions, as its finance team felt they were constantly processing and unable to take a more strategic position in daily operations. Naming the implementation project, Strategic Finance, highlighted the Council’s focus on improving the financial operations and empowering staff to be more instrumental in decision making.

As the Council’s legacy system made it difficult to access correct information or scale up operations, there was a clear need to improve the platform and systems that supported Councils finance and business teams.

The Solution
Faced with significant organisational risks, the Council’s transformation journey began with a partnership with Auckland Council. This partnership led to Auckland City Council providing Tauranga City Council with a full system copy of its S/4HANA platform.

The configuration of this platform was used to build out Tauranga City Council’s financial system. Auckland Council’s platform, processes and previous experiences were important assets in Tauranga City Council’s transformation as it significantly mitigated the risks and costs associated with such an implementation. With the Council slowly moving away from its legacy platform and the core of the implementation occurring during the peak of COVID-19, the ability to connect different roles and departments through technology has been valuable in ensuring service continuity.

Tauranga City Council is now exploring wider applications and functionalities through intelligent technology to reduce organisational risk of their legacy ERP platform and provide greater insights and efficiencies across the organisation.

The Outcome
SAP S/4HANA has empowered Tauranga City Council’s financial team to step up and take a more strategic role. With a streamlined and robust system supporting them, financial analysts can work alongside other business units to improve budgeting, offer more financial insights, and increase internal collaboration.

A key driver for the Council is the ability to demonstrate its financial position to the public, as citizens expect greater transparency and accountability from local authorities. This new level of visibility has been vital in shifting Tauranga City Council’s culture around procurement, building upon the processes that support this function. Within the financial team, monthly and year-end processes have improved significantly as book balancing no longer presents organisational issues.

“Our finance implementation on SAP S/4HANA has supported the finance team to achieve its strategic objectives. There is now increased trust in the stability of our financial data; the effort in our end of month processing is reducing as we identify the potential of the new system and its reporting capability.  There are far fewer spreadsheets floating around, with the risks and manual processes that spreadsheets entailed.  The project cost recording and reporting of SAP provides opportunity for the finance team as we seek to enhance our strategic and analytical support of the business” Kathryn Sharplin –  Tauranga City Council Manager: Finance.

The Council has started a change management model internally, breaking down business silos by creating pockets of subject-matter experts across the organisation to help and support each unit through a more user-friendly and interconnected platform. Implementing S/4HANA has helped Tauranga City Council set the foundation for growth with the aim to stack further capabilities and efficiencies through digital transformation.

Overall Results
– 30% reduction in time spent on Capital project reporting
– 25% reduction in manual processing tasks for financial analysts. That’s 25% more time to focus on supporting the business.
– Increased trust and confidence in core financial dates, resulting in significant decrease on reliance of spreadsheets.

“It was a pleasure working on the Tauranga City Council S/4HANA ‘Strategic Finance’ project, alongside SAP, to deliver transformational and tangible benefits for the organisation and its finance team. As an incumbent SAP partner for Auckland Council, we were in a position to help make this project possible in a New Zealand first. 

The core focus of the project was to enable the finance department to take a more strategic based role in the organisation by utilising new and improved functionality in the finance system. We were incredibly proud to deliver a solution that made a difference. The implementation of S/4HANA has supported the Tauranga City Council finance team to centralise and improve financial processes and operations, giving them more capacity to work on strategic elements such as budgeting, forecasting and inter-departmental collaboration.” Glenda Godfrey – Zag, part of Accenture New Zealand Sales Manager