Otago Polytechnic

A local not-for-profit benefits from a lecturer's IT expertise.

The Dunedin Budget Advisory Service manages the Dunedin City Council's Consumer Electricity Fund, which provides financial support for households struggling to pay their power bills. Their database is used not just to record new applications but also to check whether applicants have received grants previously. It was a slow and unwieldy system which depended on one PC and one person.

Software engineer Martin Junek, one of our Information Technology lecturers, designed and built a new system for the Dunedin Budget Advisory Service. After talking with the staff involved to understand the existing system and the organisational needs, Martin used an iterative design/development process working in sprints and checking in regularly with his client.

The result is a cloud-based solution. Rather than just replacing what was there, the process is streamlined and incorporates additional features. The new system reduces organisational risk, reduces paper use and double handling, and speeds up the process. Other social support agencies are now able to check eligibility directly and enter applications on behalf of households. Dunedin Budget Advisory Service's Andrew Henderson is grateful:

The fact that we were able to shift functionality to the cloud prior to the lockdown was so lucky. Without Martin’s work we would have been unable to administer the fund from home. At a time of great hardship for many, we were still able to provide support with grants towards power.

BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT

October 2020