Yarra Ranges Council
Council had an overwhelming need to quickly find information across the organisation for FOI requests, customer requests and general business outcomes. Their email archive was very large and information was stored in various locations in network drives and a variety of corporate systems.
The Solution - iFerret
Providing a single search capability across key document repositories including Pathway and ECM ensuring that nothing can fall through the gaps when performing searches.
There are now some 38 users of iFerret who undertake searches for FOI information, insurance discovery, governance, compliance, customer service. Feedback from users has been very positive and the FOI discovery process has reduced previous search times by at least 50 percent.
City of Gosnells
Hornsby Shire Council
The Solution - iArchive
The iPlatinum iArchive solution accommodates any council historical data that no longer has a place in current transaction systems. It provides the capability to query and report on historical data in legacy systems without the need for a supporting application.
iFerret heralds many benefits for first Queensland council
An enterprise search solution heralds many potential benefits but Queensland’s Ipswich City Council says its implementation of iFerret also highlights the importance of security, both across the enterprise and within source systems.
While Queensland’s oldest provincial city has been making a name for itself - as one of the world’s top 7 most intelligent communities for the way it is mapping out its digital future - its Council was facing more prosaic information systems challenges.
These challenges include the search of information assets across multiple corporate systems and network drives to assist with “Right to Information” (RTI) requests, identification of data quality issues (such as duplicate documents) in information assets which had to be addressed prior to introduction of a new EDRMS system and the need to provide a single view of each customer across multiple customer systems.
Cr Paul Tully, Chair of the Information and Technology Board, advised “After an extensive evaluation of solutions, including global brands, locally developed iFerret was chosen as the best option for the Council to undertake structured and unstructured searches of its various information repositories.”
Ipswich is the first Council to implement iFerret in Queensland and it joins a rapidly growing user community.
The strategy is to implement iFerret gradually, initially limiting it to a small number of people and using production data to ensure security on documents and network drives is correct.
Access to the system was limited to less than 20 people with testing continuing to ensure that unexpected outcomes would not occur as access to iFerret was broadened to other Council staff.
The pilot project required iFerret to:
Test cases were developed for completion by pilot participants with a score given to the application. These scores were entered into a pilot evaluation report which was reviewed and approved through Council’s governance framework.
iFerret is now enabling documents to be located in a matter of seconds, when previously they may not have been found or it would have taken a long time to find them.
As part of its assessment Council looked at the use of conventional search engines, only to conclude they were not as feature-rich as iFerret and that they were much more expensive.
The Council’s business case for a search solution itemised nine functions against which potential suppliers were evaluated including information search, results filtering, preview and thumbnails including contextual, autocomplete of search criteria, duplicate document identification, security controls from the native application, exporting of results sets, sorting of results sets and indexing of information repositories.
iFerret was used to identify the existence of duplicate information but not to remove it. A manual process will be used to determine which duplicates can be removed with iFerret reporting being used to confirm the reduction in duplicate records.
The project team confirmed the consistency and relevance of the search results by testing the information generated by iFerret against that held in the source repository.
iFerret is simple and straightforward to use, much like a Google search. As a result no formal training course has been needed. However hints and tips guides are being developed as reference documents for future users.
Council have found the vendor of the product, iPLATINUM, to be extremely helpful and responsive to requests for enhancements and clarification of queries experienced during the implementation.
Cr Paul Tully, Chair of the Information and Technology Board, identified that “Improved access to documents, improved information on data quality in current systems and the ability to identify duplicate documents, underscored by major time savings, already lead a list of benefits starting to flow at Ipswich.”
While the ultimate number of users of iFerret is yet to be determined the initial focus is on corporate applications. The next step is to bed down the system and consider other applications where there is deemed to be sufficient value for indexing the application, extending the contribution of iFerret in providing Council services.
Sutherland Shire streamlines the search for its information assets
Records are an asset and should be seen as such by any organisation says Ellen Whittingstall. So much is she a champion of the need for good record keeping at Sutherland Shire Council that she stages “Ellen’s Rant” as a precursor to training staff in the use of iFerret, the search engine deployed to locate even the most elusive records and data for local government.
It’s an opportunity to remind staff of their responsibilities about the importance of good record keeping says Ms Whittingstall, the executive officer, privacy and access to information, at the fifth biggest council in NSW.
iFerret uncovers the facts to ensure good corporate governance at Randwick Council
They are not uncommon problems reported to council call centres: the damaged footpath which results in someone falling and sustaining an injury or a tree in a public space that drops a large limb and damages private property. If such incidents are consequential enough they will set in train a search for information stored across numerous data repositories. That information may be required to satisfy insurance claims, assemble the facts for subpoenas in judicial proceedings or in some instances, respond to Government Information (Public Access) information requests. In short it’s information to help ensure good corporate governance. Not only are such searches time-consuming but in the end they may not locate all the relevant information.
Lake Macquarie City Council
Search engine ferrets out the information for Lake Macquarie City Council
By understanding everything that Lake Macquarie City Council knows about a topic - be it a customer, a property or a Council asset - its staff have the edge in delivering great service to its customers.
So it is that the Council’s decision to implement iFerret Enterprise Search technology has been vindicated many times over. It is enabling staff to better understand a given situation, make correct and timely decisions and achieve superior outcomes.
iPLATINUM helps Liverpool tune and clean ahead of new modules
iPLATINUM was engaged to undertake database tuning and cleansing of the Liverpool Council Land and Property system data to prepare for extraction and conversion into the GEAC Pathway Land and Revenue modules.
North Sydney Council
North Sydney Council - on IPlatinum to archive full systems data
North Sydney Council wanted the archiving of full systems data as a part of a project to decommission an earlier computer system.
The project involved the following tasks:
IPlatinum partners with Willoughby for a strategic IT review
iPLATINUM was engaged by Willoughby Council for its independent industry expertise to undertake a review of Council's primary technology systems and specifically address the following areas:
Skills shortage challenges good governance in quest for successful information systems
Councils must reconcile the demands of good governance with the challenges of integrating information systems to meet their obligations to the community. This is despite a significant shortage of IT professionals in the public sector says John Warburton.
As Warringah Council’s director, corporate services, he was commenting on the project to implement a comprehensive new information system for the Council which serves Sydney’s northern beaches.
At the start of this financial year the Council commissioned the first of three major systems from Technology One. FinanceOne will be followed by Property and Works and Assets. By the end of this year, these will be integrated with the electronic document management system Trim and the ESRI geographic information system.
Mr Warburton says Warringah residents and ratepayers will benefit in many ways from the new system.
“Our objective is to have our frontline customer service staff resolve a customer’s issue in 90 percent of cases without having to refer the customer to other areas of council. The integration of our core systems will give customer services officers the information at their fingertips to allow them to achieve this.”
TechOne’s Works and Assets systems will fully integrate with the financial and property systems to help deliver these efficiencies.
The Council is also enhancing its web presence and providing more opportunities to transact business online.
Mr. Warburton said “local government faces some major challenges in obtaining systems that provide maximum utility without it being held hostage to the vendor.”
Not least of these challenges is retaining information systems skills in-house.
In mid 2005, having concluded that its then current systems were outdated and would not talk to each other, Warringah decided to replace all systems in one major project.
“We believed there were good products in the market that would deliver the integration we were looking for,” Mr. Warburton said.
“We had no illusions that what we were trying to achieve was easy or simple. We also knew that we didn't have the experience in-house to make this complex project a reality without professional assistance for which we ultimately engaged iPlatinum.”
Since then iPlatinum has played a significant role in the Warringah project. This began with helping the Council prepare a tender, the evaluation of short-listed vendors and contract negotiations. iPlatinum’s involvement continues with the management of the implementation.
An innovative and comprehensive program to train Warringah staff is pivotal to the success of the project.
Warringah mandated that the prime vendor provide the training for all staff, including the development of teaching collateral that will be retained by council for ongoing learning and development.
A major innovation in the training program and associated materials is that these have been developed based on the staff member’s role in the organisation and identified business processes. For example, a town planner will receive a suite of training that emphasises a sophisticated understanding of the property system, general electronic document management and the GIS.
Asset management staff will receive a highly detailed understanding of the Works and Assets system and the GIS, supported by a basic understanding of the property system and the EDMS.
The Council will retain the teaching collateral which will be controlled and developed by two full time trainers who will take on this responsibility after the ‘go live’ date.
Warringah Council is investing $3million in the project to provide new systems which support services to a community of about 140,000 people.
“Good governance demanded that Council acquired the expertise to make good decisions in relation to such an important project,” Mr. Warburton said.
“Local government is without doubt a specialist public sector area as regards information systems and using a consultant with specialist local government knowledge is definitely valuable,” he said.
As director of corporate services he is responsible for a comprehensive range of internal support services including finance, information management and technology, procurement, records, marketing and communications, assets and property, legal, human resources, secretariat and governance.
Achieving good quality integration between key core information systems is a definite challenge and convincing vendors to integrate systems and to take responsibility for integration and performance is often difficult.
“We satisfied ourselves that iPlatinum had the appropriate skills and expertise to play a key role in overseeing the integration aspect and the overall implementation of the systems,” Mr. Warburton said.
Snowy River Shire Council
Project management skills help benefits flow smoothly from new applications at snowy river
It’s the high country made famous in Banjo Paterson’s poem, the Man from Snowy River. And, while the poem reflects an earlier pioneering era, the breath-taking scenery which inspired the words is now a magnet for a rapidly growing number of people attracted by a more relaxed lifestyle or a pastime in the great outdoors.
Boating, fishing, bushwalking, skiing, abseiling and the horse-riding, for which the 'Man' was acclaimed, help account for the fact that the Snowy River Shire has the fifth highest growth rate of any local government area in New South Wales and the 2nd fastest growth rate outside the Sydney area. Jindabyne is the second fastest urban growth area in NSW. More than half of its landowners are absentee and most of these live in Sydney.
In 2003 the Snowy River Shire Council took a decision that its information systems and infrastructure had to be replaced to help manage this growth.
Emulating the 'Man' of the poem, the Shire’s senior staff grasped the reins of and launched into a $2million project to select new computer hardware and a telephony/data network and to replace the applications systems which are the lifeblood of local government.
ICT manager Matthew O’Sullivan said management “is made up of experienced long term planners who identified early on the strategic possibilities for Snowy River Shire Council’s new IT systems refurbishment project.
“From site visits and interviews, we saw the opportunities being missed by other councils - small and large - with similar system implementation projects. We needed systems that were potentially flexible and feature-rich to grow as the Shire’s population grows.
“So we planned to build the optimal integrated application and data system environment, determining that the savings to Council in processing, reliability, and information management could more than justify the expenditure.
“Council can expect to generate significant returns on investment over the life span of the system through a variety of efficiencies and building a system that will provide enhanced services well into the next decade.
“This development also provides opportunities to supply services to other organisations and be recognised as a centre of excellence within the local government community,” Mr. O’Sullivan said.
While an ICT staff of just 2 people was not seen as a hurdle to the selection of new hardware and telephony/data equipment and systems, the Council decided to commission iPLATINUM’s project management services to oversee the implementation of its new applications including the Technology One products Finance One, Business One, People One, Proclaim and Works One.
iPLATINUM provided the project management services to implement these applications, as well as the configuration, documentation and training required for the TRIM electronic document management system. iPLATINUM project manager Terry Mohan also liaised with Council regarding the selection of new computer hardware and telephony/data equipment and systems.
iPLATINUM was commissioned after an extensive evaluation of more than 30 local government organisations in every state seeking their input on the use of project management services.
“We chose iPLATINUM based on customer referrals and specific NSW local Government project management experience,” Mr. O’Sullivan said.
iPLATINUM’s services were commissioned in late 2004 ahead of systems implementation which began in February 2005.
Mr. O’Sullivan candidly admits to identifying pitfalls during the project, especially in regard to the implementation of the finance system.
“However by having a project manager with Terry Mohan’s experience, we were able to save time and money addressing concerns before they became serious.”
He suggests any council engaging an external project manager insists on regular meetings and keeps up-to-date with the project timetable. Additionally, he advises managing risk by looking for the problems ahead of time before they hit.
Mr. O’Sullivan also credits the Council’s director, corporate services, Joe Vescio with the success of the project.
“Without his planning, experience, and commitment this project would not be in the great shape it is. His background, including 25 years implementing new systems in large metropolitan councils in Sydney, was critical to the success of this project,” Mr. O’Sullivan said.
Canterbury City Council
A tailor-made solution for canterbury
Upgrading to a new information system will present any local government authority with challenges on two fronts. First, there are enormous demands made on management time to prepare and issue a tender and evaluate responses. Then, perhaps not as visible, there are the challenges associated with ensuring that business processes are updated in line with the capabilities of the latest in IT systems.
Canterbury City Council in inner south western Sydney certainly met the first challenge early in 2004 before it embarked on the journey that is the upgrading of its information systems.
General Manager Jim Montague said: “We initially engaged iPLATINUM to manage the tender process for new information systems, thereby reducing the demands which might have otherwise been made on the time of our management and staff.
“We then realised we could meet the second challenge of the upgrade by taking advantage of iPLATINUM’s ability and knowledge of contemporary IT capabilities to stimulate the thinking of our management team about what we wanted in terms of future business processes.”
This significant upgrade project is further evidence of an ongoing and positive relationship with iPLATINUM said Director of Corporate and Community Services, Lara Kirchner, whose range of responsibilities within Council made her the ideal person to manage such a major project. It is anticipated the project will be completed in mid 2005.
“We are aiming to implement a state of the art information system which will ensure we are more responsive to community needs. Web enablement of the system will facilitate greater community interaction with the business systems and practices of the Council, while enhanced integration between the various business applications will deliver greater value to all by optimising the time of our staff.”
The new systems, based on financial applications from PeopleSoft and a Land Information System from Geac, will provide a single view of each customer.
Ms Kirchner said a practical example of the benefits of interacting with Council business systems through the Web will be the capability to book facilities and lodge development applications online.
“We are keen to enable our community to access information and interact with us more directly. Real time information will be available not just to the community but also our staff, enabling better service provision. We will provide our rangers and other mobile staff in the field with the ability to access information on line.”
Mr Montague said iPLATINUM brought extensive product knowledge to the development and evaluation of the Canterbury tender, as well as solid procedures, methodologies and project management skills.
“But our decision to engage iPLATINUM was equally about offsetting the demands which a project of this type would otherwise make on the Council and our daily operations.
“iPLATINUM’s independence and project management skills were additional factors in our decision to continue what is now a long standing relationship.
“We knew its consulting staff could work well with us, thereby further lowering the risk involved in such as major project.”
Ms Kirchner said iPLATINUM “did not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the project.
“iPLATINUM’s work is characterised by good rigorous processes and documentation. We achieved quality outcomes, from the start to the final outcome of the tendering process.”
Over a three month timeframe, iPLATINUM developed system specification templates and processes to assess tender responses. The decision in favour of a solution from Jigsaw Services, comprising the PeopleSoft and Geac applications, was made in June 2004.
iPLATINUM consultant Terry Mohan, who oversaw the tender specification and evaluation, is now managing the systems implementation phase.
Thorough documentation and validated data ensure system credibility for wollongong council
Focus on business process not technology and recognise the complexity of data cleansing and migration to ensure the credibility of new information systems with users. That’s the advice of Peter Kofod of Wollongong Council, as he finalises the implementation of Geac’s Pathway Land Information System.
Scheduled to go live by the end of 2003, Pathway is a key information system supporting the management of Australia’s 9th largest city, located in the Illawarra region south of Sydney.
“Cleansing, migration and a methodology for archiving historical data delivers current and valid data by which users measure the success of information systems. In turn, documentation and training have helped confirm the suitability of our business processes,” Mr Kofod said.
iPLATINUM has played a major role in Wollongong’s implementation of Pathway, providing documentation, training and data services, as well being Geac’s project manager for the implementation
Data cleansing and migration is a complex process and needs a lot of expertise to be successful, says Peter Kofod.
“We recognise iPLATINUM’s skills in this area. From our research poor data conversion has created problems for councils which have elected to undertake the process by themselves.”
While Wollongong’s IT department is responsible for hardware, systems software, support and infrastructure issues, business owners are responsible for their specific information systems. As manager, design, Mr Kofod has overall responsibility for both land and geographic information systems.
“Even before we had selected Pathway as our preferred LIS, we had planned to involve iPLATINUM with the implementation. Its staff was familiar with our Genasys legacy systems and we saw data cleansing as a high priority in preparing properly for a new system.
“So, we had no trouble endorsing Geac’s recommendation that iPLATINUM act as their project manager and undertake the data conversion and cleansing,” Mr Kofod said.
“We didn’t have the expertise or resources in house to undertake data conversion and cleansing, nor did our staff have the time to produce the training manuals and associated documentation which are essential if an information system is to be introduced successfully.”
Whilst application vendors offer generic training and documentation designed to accommodate a variety of implementations, iPLATINUM is able to provide Councils with training and documentation to suit a specific environment, methodologies and processes. This documentation reflects the way a particular council operates and individual job functions.
The production of site-specific training documentation has provided Wollongong with a way of reviewing its business processes by reflecting just what the LIS is actually doing. Peter Kofod oversees a team of people from five areas of the council – land information, rates, planning, IT and health and environment- who are reviewing business processes.
“We have designed the processes within the system and then reviewed each component part to ensure it is accommodated in the larger picture of how a whole department operates,” Mr Kofod said.
An introductory course on the LIS presented to 200 users marked the start of a month long training period before Pathway went live. A second more detailed course was focused on how the LIS is used to help employees do their specific jobs.
The feedback to the training was extremely positive said Mr Kofod.
Two and a half years ago Wollongong was among iPLATINUM’s first strategic consulting assignments when the Council decided that it was time to replace its Genasys applications with new technology.
Wollongong decided on a ‘best of breed’ approach to the selection of its systems, calling separate tenders for a finance system and a land information system.
This strategy has seen it assemble a range of applications that are popular among many local authorities: Aurion for human resource applications, TRIM for records management, ArcGIS and Finance One, as well as Pathway.
These applications are supported in an IT environment based on SQL Server. They are available across a wide area network and microwave links to more than 900 PCs at the Council offices and external sites such as depots and libraries.