NSW Housing leases $20 million IT platform

Old system kept staff glued to computers

The NSW Department of Housing has inked a five-year $20 million deal to supply a new hosted IT system to manage its $28 billion in assets.

The Northgate system will replace its old management platform, developed in the late 1990s, and will be used state-wide by most of the department's 2500 staff to automate manual tasks required for tenancy management.

NSW Housing Minister Matt Brown said the previous platform was ditched because its manual data entry requirements were time-consuming, triggering staff complaints.

"A lot of work was put into the new system; it will strengthen financial viability and staff will be able to collect and manage rent more quickly and easily," Brown said.

"The new system means better value to the taxpayer, tenants will receive better [access] to help, staff will be less frustrated and our teams will be better directed. It means staff can spend more time helping customers instead of in front of computers, and integration between government departments will increase."

According to a department spokesman, the hosted Web-based platform was chosen for improved usability and a series of new features which cannot be revealed until they are approved through Cabinet.

A single GUI will be replaced by streamed multiple administration interfaces available to all department staff.

UK payroll and HR vendor Northgate, which won the deal following an open tender in 2006, will provide staff training and support for the next five years.

The platform, currently live, will be fully integrated by 2010 in a joint effort between the department and Northgate.

Northgate managing director Joe Bradley said the system will free up staff from labour-intensive processes and decrease technical support demands.

"The system will allow a better quality of service and staff will be able to spend more time better servicing the community," Bradley said, adding that a percentage of time saved by staff cannot be qualified because of varying job roles.

The department services 145,000 homes with some 328,000 residents and encompasses Public Housing, the Office of Community Housing, the Home Purchase Advisory Service and the Centre for Affordable Housing.

Brown said the new system has not resulted in job losses.