Penrith City Council

A strong case for Cloud5

"Moving EmpowerHR to Cloud5 has made it more flexible, accommodating and convenient than ever before."

Andrew Gunner, HR Systems Administrator, Penrith Council

The Penrith Local Government Area is on the western edge of Sydney, Australia. It covers 470 square kilometres, and is home to over to 200,000 people. Penrith City Council is the second largest metropolitan council in New South Wales.

The council employs 1215 permanent, part-time and casual employees across 28 diverse fields including childcare, planning, horticulture, construction, libraries, environmental health, and marketing.

Implementing a cloud-first strategy

Penrith Council has happily used EmpowerHR, Fusion5’s integrated Human Resources and Payroll solution, since 2001 as an in-house solution.

In early 2015, an independent ICT audit recommended that Penrith Council adopt a cloud-first strategy and invest in keeping their software upgrade current. So the council decided to make the move, and chose cloud-based servers and solutions to take them into the future. All core on-premise systems, including EmpowerHR, were reviewed to ensure they were still fit-for-purpose and met Council’s needs, before migration to the cloud.

Getting more out of EmpowerHR

Fusion5’s EmpowerHR team conducted a ‘health check’, which revealed the solution was being underutilised.

As well as an upgrade to the latest version, Fusion5 recommended new Performance Management, eRecruitment and Onboarding functionality. They also proposed integrating the whole system with Fusion5’s TimeFiler, a comprehensive time-management web application for medium-large entities. Staff can access TimeFiler remotely from practically any mobile device, complete their timesheets, and have the data entered directly into EmpowerHR’s payroll module.

Choosing a cloud

Council had the option to host EmpowerHR on their own cloud.  However, Andrew Gunner, HR Systems Administrator for Penrith Council, took the opportunity to look at Fusion5’s Cloud5 offering as an alternative. “We completed a cost and benefits analysis of moving to the new Council cloud versus Cloud5 provided by Fusion5. The potential long-term savings that Cloud5 offered, along with access to EmpowerHR experts, meant that the value of the benefits would quickly outweigh any cost difference.”

“Cloud5 is hosted by an Australian provider managed by the Fusion5 Cloud5 team and comes with a disaster recovery and business continuity plan. As they are part of Fusion5, who also own EmpowerHR, it meant we’d be able to maintain software currency as part of the migration and ongoing support.”

Andrew and his team presented their recommendations to Council’s ICT executive, and the move to Cloud5 was approved.

Delivering a successful test case

EmpowerHR was the first of the on-premise solutions to move to the cloud, and acted as a test case. Migrating 15 years of HR and Payroll data, while making a significant software version upgrade, is no small feat. So a clear and well-planned migration strategy was essential.

The Fusion5 Account Director presented a proposal to Council’s project team, including a timeline and the design of the upgraded EmpowerHR solution. The proposal was accepted, a project team was put together and the project moved easily through the design, build and testing stages.

The solution was put through its paces by Council’s test team, which included representatives from their Human Resources, Payroll, Learning and Development, and Occupational Health and Safety teams. These systems experts then became trainers supporting the rollout through the other departments. The whole solution rollout was also reinforced by a well-executed communications plan.

Once testing was signed off, the production system was migrated to Cloud5, and went live shortly afterward.

Under time, under budget

Andrew says the migration project met Council’s time and budget expectations.

“We decided that we wanted to be up and running with EmpowerHR the month prior to the end of our financial year – and we were. After two successful pay runs, we backed up and decommissioned the old servers.”

“While a few lessons were learned from our end,” says Andrew, “the process still went smoothly, and the success of this project paved the way for the migration of our other standalone solutions to the cloud.”

Cloud5 support provided a set of performance KPIs to Council. Andrew can recall only one instance where the service was unavailable through the normal pathway. The team at Cloud5 quickly provided staff with an alternative access route, while reestablishing the pathway. 

Andrew was invited to present at a recent EmpowerHR User Conference. He said the Cloud5 team managed the project both under time and within budget, and he described the senior Cloud5 consultant as ‘a legend.'

A new era

Andrew says that moving EmpowerHR to Cloud5 has made it more flexible, accommodating and convenient than ever before. Administrators don’t even need to sit at their desks to run the payroll system anymore. The old computer room was decommissioned, and Penrith Council is enjoying a new era of hassle-free, secure, safe and accessible cloud infrastructure service.

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