08 October 2020
The City of Banyule is a local government area in Victoria, Australia in the North-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The City has a growing and thriving community and provides a range of community services.
As with many local governments in Australia, the City of Banyule is responsible for overseeing the management of kindergartens including offers of places and managing these allocations in a fair, transparent and effective manner. They manage 3 (limited) and 4-year-old kindergarten central registrations on behalf of 27 kindergartens located in the municipality.
Faced with a growing population and a system that was difficult, time-consuming and ineffective to manage, Banyule approached EngageRM to seek a better solution utilising the CouncilRM solution.
Previously, guardians were required to complete a paper form and submit this via post or in person. Where payments were required, applicants were required to provide their credit card details over the phone, or come into one of Banyule’s service centres to pay by cash or credit card. If applicants chose to post their application form, they were required to send a cheque or money order with the completed form. Only guardians who were not required to pay the registration fee (for example, Health Care Card holders) were able to email the application form to Banyule.
As a result, the Opening Day for registrations was always incredibly busy. Because the order of submission has an impact on allocation order, lines of guardians would be queuing before the Banyule customer service centres were opened to submit their paper-based form. Once submitted, a Banyule Officer was then required to manually enter every application that was received.
The Opening Day would normally see approximately 500 applications received, causing significant overload and stress on everyone concerned. In any given year, the number of applications received is around 1,500.
Banyule recognised that solving this problem would lead to better workflows within the administrative office, a more open and transparent operation that would ensure city residents were treated in a fast and effective manner, and of course, data and insights about the changes within the local community.
The CouncilRM Solution was deployed to manage the situation. While the CouncilRM Solution operates out-of-the-box, a number of plugins were implemented and the system was configured to operate effectively within the Banyule environment.
This included ensuring that kindergarten and group profiles were accurate, along with ensuring that guardian and child profiles aligned, and a structured process was in place to describe these connections. Capturing relevant relationships, history and preferences is critical. Applicants are able to preference their choices and CouncilRM takes into account sibling history and other information, such as location proximity, with data integrated for address validation.
A secure payment gateway allows safe payments via the web portal. Once an application is received, CouncilRM’s algorithm automates allocations using preferences and the rules within each environment. Second preferences and waitlists are used, and the platform updates based on withdrawals, allocations and new applications. CouncilRM uses SMS and email to communicate as required.
Standard and definable reports are available, and can be exported to Microsoft Excel for the team at Banyule. Guardians/parents and kindergarten administrators have access to a portal to manage applications and track the entire process.
After a significant amount of work by both teams, the launch of CouncilRM within Banyule was a significant success.
Since launch, almost 1100 Applications have been submitted online. Where necessary, online payments have been taken. This one feature alone has saved significant time, effort and stress for Banyule staff.
Parents and guardians can apply without having to physically drive in to Council during office hours. They have experienced a streamlined process that has seen numerous benefits:
Entering their registration online at their own convenience
Avoiding visits to a customer service centre
Access credit card payment options
Ability to track progress online
The City of Banyule has been able to significantly improve the experience of kindergarten registration for community members, while also improving the efficiency and professionalism of the Early Years team.
With CouncilRM, the City of Banyule have a seamless process for all kindergartens within their jurisdiction and can allocate staff to do the important work of communicating with residents and ensuring questions can be answered in a timely manner. Parents and guardians have full transparency, with the new system based on objective rules and data for everyone. Full transcripts are kept so that any questions about allocation issues can be viewed chronologically and answered factually.
This deployment is an excellent example of the way in which technology can enable a workforce, while providing a much-needed community service at a low cost and in a timely manner.
Loretta Pepper, ECS Community Liaison Officer