WA council sweetens future path

WA council sweetens future path

Perth's City of Cockburn Council has replaced its 12-year-old, text-based legacy system with a software suite in a $700,000 project.

Tony Manno, City of Cockburn's manager of information services, said that with a population of more than 73,000, about 30,000 rateable properties, and more than 60,000 electors, the council decided to upgrade its software systems last year to ensure it could provide more improved levels of service to ratepayers.

"We were looking for a system that could assist us in the administration of our operations as efficiently and effectively as possible.

"We wanted a path to the future including better reporting, better integration, and the ability to use state-of-the-art technologies and methodologies," Manno said.

Manno managed the project, which rolled out new software solutions for financial management and accounting, human resources and local government management. Technology One scored the contract and supplied the software after a call for tenders resulted in submissions from eight vendors, which was winnowed to three, Technology One, Civica, and IT Vision, the vendor of the system being replaced.

Benefits of the project are being realised now seven months after it went live in December 2002 following its July 2002 start date.

"We have more than 120 users who now have more information available at their fingertips. We did anticipate 12 months of consolidation after going live with ROI to be realised some 12 months later as productivity isn't at its highest because users are still learning the system."

Manno said there were end user training concerns, because staff had been using the same system for 12 years and were "fixed in their ways".

"As a project leader, I was very keen to get buy-in and ownership from the users, and we ran a lot of training and information sessions to keep the users in touch with the project. Vendor and in-house training were provided, with plenty of hand-holding," Manno said.

While ruling out any major hiccups during the implementation phase, Manno admitted that the "usual headaches" including making sure all the checks and balances were in place to maintain data integrity.

"A great effort went into data conversion. We also adopted a system of module leaders from each of the areas within the council, such as building, finance and health. These staff were nominated to work directly on the project to look after the needs of each particular department, so this assisted the process.

"These people were the first port of call for anyone in that department, and would liase between their department and Technology One. It all comes back to ownership, rather than having the IT staff dictating how to use it all. It's better to have actual users passing the information on to the other users," Manno said.

As well as benefiting the council's rate payers, Manno said the project had also set the council up to extend its e-business activities "which we will look at in the future, to let ratepayers undertake business electronically".

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