Enterprise-ready App in 6 weeks – A low-code victory

Enterprise-ready app in 6 weeks

Bundaberg Regional Council works and asset management app 

We talked to Sean Askew, the Network Planning Engineer (Water Services) at Bundaberg Regional Council. Our mission: To discover just how fast he and Formbird got up and running with their new “works management app”. We find out how they are now reaping the benefits of their quick build solution. And how their “works app” continues to bring business value through flexibility, with the Formbird low-code development platform. 

Tipping the scales at over six thousand square kilometres, Bundaberg Regional Council is one of the largest councils in Queensland. Three hundred and sixty kilometres north of Brisbane, the region is a booming hub of agriculture and industry and a popular tourism/lifestyle destination. The regional council employs close to nine hundred employees. 

Getting started with Formbird

After an intensive six weeks, Formbird were live with the first phase of an asset and works management digitisation project for the regional council, starting with the water and sewer department. The reticulation team are now rolling Formbird’s works management out across all of the Water Services delivery teams including; Treatment, Mechanical and Electrical. As well as being extended outside Water Services to Trade Services.

Because Bundaberg Regional Council had already implemented an asset management system, they had a good idea of what they wanted. They also knew what they didn’t want. 

Mark Hosking, Formbird CEO, said, “Local government has traditionally been a challenging problem for a broad-based works and asset management app to solve.”

“A local council has a unique process in every corner of the organisation; you could say a council represents 50 small businesses.”

“When we replace an existing system as we did in Bundaberg, it is always surprising how often we see a solution designed by one area and then implemented in another. For example, designed by accounts and used in operations. The fit is never quite right.”

Because the Bundaberg Regional Council team had already implemented asset management software, they were knowledgeable; they had the experience; they were battle-hardened or maybe scarred. Their expertise gave Formbird a great base to build on. 

“Formbird built a strong working relationship with Sean Askew and Sharyn Williamson, first starting with water and now moving into trade services and other areas of the business.” CEO Mark Hosking said. 

The Formbird Advantage

Bundaberg Regional Council Water Services wanted a solution that would meet their needs in a hurry for today and be flexible into the future. 

Looking at what was available, they soon discovered that most solutions on the market were “set in stone”. They required organisations adhere to a massive flowchart with everything already mapped out. Maybe this would work in a perfect world. 

“We needed to digitise our field staff and our business, we know the current state of play, and we know things could grow and change.”

Sean Askew

An organisation’s needs won’t match how they operate when a specification is signed off twelve months prior.

Sean knew that the potential for cost blowouts of a twelve-month development cycle would be high; if circumstances changed in that time, the end solution would be useless. 

Sean Askew asked Formbird, “What can we do now? What could deliver business value from day one?”  

He continued, “if you asked any other organisation to digitise your field operations teams in six weeks, they’re going to laugh at you. There’s no way that’s physically possible … we needed something on the ground, working, it doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles, but we need to get it done.”

“In six weeks, we had the guys starting to use it. Was it the end product? No. There were many things that we could add, but the core value was there. After six weeks, we could demonstrate that some of our teams had gone digital.”

Compliance Assessment: Rapid development saves the day

Bundaberg Regional Council Water Services had an upcoming hazardous chemical compliance assessment. An inspector came to see all their safety data sheets. The information was in a legacy system that needed to be made current.  

Bundaberg Regional Council had to get an updated list of the chemicals. They had to respond to the request within the week. 

They quickly made a form in Formbird and pushed it out to all the teams. The field teams went out and captured the detail of every chemical they had stored, including adding photos and then generated the report.

They can now use this new tool to inspect and build a process to keep the hazardous materials register up to date.  

Bundaberg Regional Council was able to turn this around in under a week, getting the data sheets up to date and having a new tool to do it. 

The information captured was a crucial step in meeting the recommendations by the auditors. 

Thanks to Sean Askew, the Network Planning Engineer (Water Services) at Bundaberg Regional Council, for his assistance in preparing this article. We look forward to hearing more from Sean soon.