Case study:

Shire of Peppermint Grove WA

CouncilFirst and its secure delivery of service via the Microsoft cloud platform have revolutionised the Shire’s approach to meeting our digital transformation challenge.
— Paul Rawlings, Manager Corporate Services

Council profile

Peppermint Grove is one of Western Australia’s most beautiful suburbs, known for its large character homes set in tranquil streets lined by trademark "Peppermint trees". The area embraces the Swan river and foreshore parks for recreation and is serviced by a major shopping complex and an extensive range of retail and trade services.

The suburb has long been associated with Western Australia’s oldest families. Their prosperity is reflected in historic houses in the area, such as 'St Just' and The Cliffe.

With proximity to the river and adjoining riverfront reserves, the surrounding top-class infrastructure and leisure facilities (like the Royal Fresh Water Yacht Club and Peppermint Grove Tennis Club), as well as its easy access to some of Perth’s best private schools, Peppermint Grove has the highest average weekly income of any suburb in Western Australia.

The challenge

The Shire of Peppermint Grove in Western Australia has future-proofed its corporate business systems by moving operations to a Software-as-a-Service model—delivering cost savings, reliability, and security.

With the assistance of local-government cloud specialists CouncilFirst and utilising the power of the Microsoft cloud platform, the Shire is seeing improved responsiveness, and is more effectively able to demonstrate compliance with statutory obligations.

Outdated systems

More and more the Shire of Peppermint Grove found itself struggling with its existing business systems, restricted by narrow reporting functions, cumbersome support processes, and limited ecommerce transaction capabilities. The Shire wished to provide a modern low-friction experience for customers wanting to interact with Council and quickly realised that such an experience was not possible with its existing tools.

Regulatory compliance

Another shortcoming of the Shire’s existing business systems was that they were unable to respond to Western Australia’s changing regulatory landscape. It was imperative that the Shire put in place processes that would enable it to store and manage information and documents with the transparency required of it under the State Records Act.

Council-specific requirements

The Shire needed to find a solution that would enable it to deliver better services to internal staff and external customers, meet the challenges of future requirements, and do so while keeping costs under control. Most importantly it needed to find a trusted partner that understood the unique operational requirements of councils across a broad range of council-critical functions including Payroll, Finance, Procurement, Information Management, Property & Rating, and Regulatory Compliance.

We needed a solution that would grow with us, one that could respond to requirements that we don’t yet know we will have (...) We began looking for a relationship with an organisation that knows local government.
— Paul Rawlings, Manager Corporate Services

 “The Shire places a very high value on the ease with which our ratepayers and members of our community can interact with Council online,” said Shire Corporate Services Manager Paul Rawlings. “We aren’t the largest shire in the country, but our community has high expectations of us and of our ability to serve them. It is key for us to be able to accommodate our customers’ requirements for services such as online payment of rates and do so in a way that our they can trust and rely on.

“It is a fundamental principle of good public administration that public officials comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law,” Rawlings continued. “Our stakeholders expect that our legislative requirements are complied with, and we must take all appropriate measures to ensure that that expectation is met. We must always be able to assess how our systems of compliance can be improved, and our old systems were increasingly unable to deliver the support and reporting that we needed to deliver on that.”

 “Rather than fixing problems that already existed, at a more fundamental level we realised we needed a solution that would grow with us, one that could respond to requirements that we don’t yet know we will have,” said Rawlings. “We began looking for a relationship with an organisation that knows local government and understands the issues we face.”


During its investigations the Shire came into contact with CouncilFirst, the local-government division of consulting organisation and Microsoft Gold Partner Open Systems Technology. CouncilFirst provides best-of-breed technology, cloud-based business solutions, and strategic advice to a range of local government organisations across Australia. Fortuitously CouncilFirst is a panellist and preferred supplier to the Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) and was able to quickly demonstrate an understanding of the Shire’s issues.

The Shire’s move to the cloud was a complex change management process. CouncilFirst’s local government experience made the difference and was key to the provision of a cloud solution that enabled the Shire’s digital transformation—at a price that demonstrated fiscal responsibility.

The Shire is a model of the positive transformation that can result from collaboratively matching capabilities to requirements.
— Glenn Nanda, CouncilFirst GM

Perhaps most crucially the CouncilFirst team was able to provide a solution based on the Microsoft cloud platform that the Shire and its customers could trust. CouncilFirst’s foundational components of Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Dynamics 365 have undergone IRAP assessments and are certified by the Australian Cyber Security Centre. The IRAP assessments found that the CouncilFirst solution’s underlying system architecture is based on sound security principles, and certified CouncilFirst’s core technology components with the highest cyber security rating currently available to cloud providers.

“Security is vital for us and our customers, and we are reassured that with CouncilFirst our data remains entirely within Australia at Microsoft’s Australian datacentres, even though our services are in the cloud,” said Rawlings. “Most importantly, in CouncilFirst we know we have a solution that will grow with us in years to come.”

Into the future

As a result of the power and flexibility of CouncilFirst’s cloud solution and its appropriateness for use in local government, CouncilFirst remains a trusted business and technology advisor to the Shire of Peppermint Grove and assists the Shire management team on a daily basis.

“The relationship that has grown between CouncilFirst and the Shire of Peppermint Grove is extremely important to us,” said CouncilFirst GM Glenn Nanda. “The Shire is a model of the positive transformation that can result from collaboratively matching capabilities to requirements. The CouncilFirst team looks forward to partnering with the Shire in its ongoing digital journey.”

The collaboration between the Shire of Peppermint Grove and CouncilFirst continues to grow, with CouncilFirst’s local government expertise making it the obvious choice as a partner to assist the Shire with the entire spectrum of IT and communications services.

With the CouncilFirst SaaS local government solution the Shire has a much deeper and more comprehensive range of functions at our fingertips—at a cost no greater than that of the systems we replaced.
— Paul Rawlings, Manager Corporate Services