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Road-mapping digital transformation


Social Futures: road-mapping digital transformation


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We speak to Ashleigh Martin, Manager of Digital Innovation and Transformation, about the importance of not just being reactionary to new technologies, but laying the groundwork for a clear forward strategy around digital transformation



ith over 40 years’ experience as an advocate and service provider to regional communities, Social Futures is

an expanding social justice organisation based in Northern New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Its partnerships with the community and with state and federal governments have allowed Social Futures to grow its reach across NSW, delivering homelessness and housing support, youth and family services, and disability schemes. With core values such as inclusion, integrity and learning, this not-for-profit is accredited by the Australian Service Excellence Standards (ASES). Ashleigh Martin is the Manager of Digital Innovation and Transformation at Social Futures, overseeing the not-for-profit’s strategic and operational use of information systems and digital technologies. “I’m responsible for helping set the agenda for how we use technology, both in the


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“The strategy for the board is one of thoughtful growth and expansion. It means we’re setting our agenda to best scale the impact” — Ashleigh Martin, Manager of Digital Innovation and Transformation, Social Futures

short to medium term, as well as into the future,” he explains. Martin brings with him over two decades of experience in the corporate sector, from the design and delivery of technical services, the development of business technology strategy, architecture and transformation programs, through to senior IT management and operational roles with large multinational corporations across Australia and Asia. His blend of commercial and technical experience lends him a unique


perspective. “At Social Futures, I am privileged to be able to work along the full breadth of the transformation journey; from setting the strategic agenda and designing systems, through to rolling my sleeves up and taking an active role in their implementation,” Martin elaborates. When he joined in December 2018, Social Futures was in the midst of a significant growth in scale thanks to a new contract from the federal government as part of a national program to transform the disabilities services sector. Social Futures was chosen as the local area coordination provider for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

CLICK TO WATCH : ‘SOCIAL FUTURES’ RECONCILIATION ACTION PLAN’ 07 The organisation close to doubled in

where they are. “The strategy for the

size over an ambitious timeframe, now

board is one of thoughtful growth and

employing almost 300 staff across 21

expansion,” Martin says. “It means

locations. “With that expanded foot-

we’re setting our agenda to best scale

print and staff, we needed to establish

our impact and maintain our unique

new ways of collaborating with each

organisational culture even as we

other, new ways of making decisions,

grow.” This involves setting a clear plan

tracking outcomes and supporting

while simultaneously remaining open

staff services,” Martin says.

and flexible. “We consider ourselves a

The organisation’s focus is on

learning organisation. We can change

establishing new frameworks and

when we need to.” This is especially

systems, understanding best prac-

relevant as the human services sector

tices and sharing these across its

moves to outcomes-based funding

many locations to ensure clients have

models. “Not only must we be able to

a consistent experience no matter

demonstrate the impact we’re having w w c i a l f ut ure s . org . a u

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but we also need to identify services

funders, donors and clients. The

gaps in our communities to better

sector as a whole is becoming more

design programs and advocate for

oriented towards customer service.

funding,” Martin says. His team has

New technology allows Social Futures

designed a comprehensive IT strategy,

to clearly track its progress and offer

reviewed yearly, aligning current busi-

data-driven insights. On the funding

ness needs with a vision of greater

side, this means being able to integrate

organisational effectiveness and tech

with whatever platform funders use to

sophistication. “In my experience,”

track outcomes. On the delivery side,

Martin says, “without that set of prin-

it is about efficiency. Social Futures

ciples to focus on, without a roadmap,

information systems have moved from

you become reactionary. This has

transactional local-based services

made us a lot more strategic.”

to scalable dynamic utility-based

Social Futures is looking into how tech can best serve people: staff, FEBRUARY 2020

offerings that better meet the needs of all stakeholders. Whether this is


Ashleigh Martin With a successful career spanning senior commercial IT and strategic technology consulting roles across ANZ and Asia Pacific, Ashleigh brings a uniquely valuable perspective in aligning digital technologies with business strategy and then transforming technology strategy into plans of action. His expertise in implementation planning and transformation execution helps organisations maximise their chance of success through carefully designed roadmaps and prioritised portfolios of tactical projects. A blend of strategic advisory and facilitation experience compliments his skill and experience in project management and technology transformation execution. Ashleigh leverages a natural systems-thinking mindset and takes a practical and human-centred approach to creative problem solving and operational excellence. He believes in co-creating elegant technology solutions that address real business challenges and opportunities, providing organisations with the means to generate greater levels of value, have greater impact in the markets or social sectors in which they operate, or simply to be more efficient in how they do what they do. Ashleigh’s current passion and focus is in the social services sector where he is working with Social Futures to harness the benefits of digital technologies to; improve operational efficiencies, leverage the power of data to draw insights from the communities in which they serve, demonstrate social impact and inform systemic advocacy, and use technology to innovate the ways in which they engage an increasingly digital-savvy population.

a nz .busi ne ssc h ief. com





The organisation went from having 30 to 40 staff, to employing almost 300 people across 20 locations under an aggressive timeframe

automating base level transactions or outsourcing transactional IT systems, the goal is to move the organisation’s ICT focus from solving problems as they come to using automated systems to avoid them altogether and allow staff to spend less time on admin and more time with clients. “We traditionally operated like a help desk ‘break, fix’ service,” Martin says. “Now, we focus our IT function on higher added value, co-designing solutions with staff to truly meet their needs.” The organisation leverages its status as a not-for-profit to gain access to technology that has traditionally been the domain of large, well-funded commercial enterprises. “In terms of scalability, tech has been an enabler.” Martin says. Partnerships have been key in helping Social Futures achieve this mission and their partnership with Australian-based cloud service provider Lumary has been crucial to its success. In 2018, Social Futures was looking for help in managing its NDIS Local Area Coordination programme; Lumary has experience developing a suite of products for the disability and aged care sectors in Australia. “Social w w c i a l f ut ure s . org . a u



Futures takes a person-first approach to design, so we spent a considerable amount of time with the people who are going to be the beneficiaries of our tech solutions,” Martin says. “Lumary has always maintained a person-centred approach to its product.” Together they developed an application, migrating 7,000 records held across dozens of spreadsheets into a Salesforce client management system. Moving onto digital platforms such as cloud-based applications and data has allowed 12

Social Futures to better coordinate its staff and unlock productivity. In moving its workforce management solutions onto Fusion5’s Empower HR platform, Social Futures saw an 80% reduction in payroll errors. By using cloud-based training, it ensures its almost 300 employees all have access to the same information and elements of its recruitment process are also automated. “We talk about change management and it’s not always done well,” Martin explains. “What worked well in one area through ambassadors and training small focus groups might not work in another.” Checking in on progress is a major element of Social Futures’

“In my experience, without that set of principles to focus on, without a roadmap, you become reactionary. This has made us a lot more strategic” — Ashleigh Martin, Manager of Digital Innovation and Transformation, Social Futures


Year founded

$39mn Revenue in US dollars


Number of employees

strategy. Staff are engaged as early

of big changes in two years,” Martin

as possible in the design process for

says. “We envision a future where we

the implementation of new systems.

can do more of what we do best and

“It’s been trial and error,” Martin con-

have capacity to scale.” With its digital

tinues. Moving towards becoming a

transformation journey well underway,

data-driven organisation has been

Social Futures has a bright future

beneficial to staff. An online central

ahead. “With our strategy, we are

depository of client information helps

always looking forward and our guiding

employees better manage clients.

star is to create positive social change

A second Lumary project around cli-

wherever we can,” Martin concludes.

ent management systems has seen success in the locations where it has been implemented. “We’ve made a lot w w c i a l f ut ure s . org . a u


16 Keen Street Lismore NSW 2480 Australia At this address T +(02) 6620 1800

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Social Futures February 2020  

Social Futures February 2020  

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