Auckland Regional Council (ARC) has eliminated costly outsourcing of document production by implementing a SaaS solution that handles collaboration and change management.
Council CIO John Holley says that the adoption of Objective Corporation's community and collaboration applications was fast, with only two weeks from purchase to go-live, largely because there were no infrastructure costs or special skills required.
“We were spending a lot with publication houses -- from $10,000 to $50,000 at a time -- so the system paid for itself in under a year,” Holley says.
The applications, uCreate and uEngage provide a platform for producing and disseminating information to constituents.
“It provides government a single point of view for citizen consultation including tracking changes [and] does a better job for collaborative management of documents,” Holley says. “It's easy to make sure who’s doing what and once people move past the idea of working in track changes they don’t want to go back.”
Holley says the soft ROI is also compelling because there are significant business process improvements.
“As a council, how do I track what consultations I’m doing? Someone has to chase around Word documents, and there is the cost of production. The time it takes is an order of magnitude harder than with this system,” he says.
Holley says using the Web is fundamentally different to traditional enterprise document management, but people who had always used Microsoft Word caught on quickly.
For ARC the software was always about managing the citizen consulting process, but Holley says it is a powerful collaborative document management process that can also be used for technical publications.
“There is full accountability internally so you don’t have to worry about people saying 'I didn’t see that',” he says, adding people producing highly professional documents with no knowledge of publishing.
Holley says CIOs need to provide leadership with emerging Web 2.0-style technologies.
“For me part of its was leading the organisation to change. It’s about process improvement and the government 2.0 stuff,” he says. “How do we more efficiently engage with the public? And how do I get the Gen Y people to engage with issues like transport?”
“For the CIO in a council it is how do I open the council to more engagement with the community?”
Holley says the software could be used for internal documents, but it represents a change in the way the organisation “thinks”.
“You are not going to get the absolutely pretty documents, but we are producing high quality documents for a fraction of the cost, and it's all in HTML.”
Objective's general manager of marketing, Adrian Rudman, says local governments need to produce documents that go to the public, but the cost of production is high.
“Our solution is a SaaS offering that does production and proofing of documents and people can comment on the document and engage in a forum of a particular part of the document. Instead of letters organisations get a data-driven response.”
Rudman says the fact that the solution is SaaS is of particular interest to CIOs, as it provides the ability to deliver new features to users as soon as they are developed.
According to Objective Corporation research, each local council in Australia could save some $3 million per year through more efficient document production processes.