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Tasmanian councils embracing electronic document management

  • 26 April, 2007 09:19

<p>Circular Head Council and Glenorchy Council have both chosen Avand’s DataWorks to meet their document management requirements. The moves have cemented the enterprise content management software developer’s presence in Tasmania, with DataWorks now installed at 11 of the state’s 29 local governments.</p>
<p>Circular Head Council will use DataWorks to replace the existing application currently managing its files, while Glenorchy Council has replaced its existing document management system and has implemented the software in its HR department as phase 1 of the rollout.</p>
<p>Based in the isolated region of far northwest Tasmania, Circular Head Council faces more difficulty attracting and retaining staff than most local governments. This means high workloads for employees, who have one of the state’s lowest number of staff per head of population rates.</p>
<p>John van Gaalen, Manager, Corporate Services, Circular Head Council, says improving productivity was of paramount importance when considering a document management system.</p>
<p>“If staff can access information more quickly, their productivity improves and their stress levels decrease,” Mr van Gaalen explains. “With DataWorks, we will have far better control over information, allowing staff to obtain the necessary files efficiently and without having to chase anything or anyone down.”</p>
<p>DataWorks will assist Circular Head in managing compliance issues and will ultimately be the central port for all information into the organisation.</p>
<p>“As Councils deal a lot with land title issues including development and planning applications and the like, it’s extremely important information is easily accessible and also complete,” Mr van Gaalen says. “Right now, our staff cannot be quite sure they’ve got all the necessary documents which leaves us wide open to compliance risks. An uncoordinated approach to file management makes those sorts of issues stand out pretty clearly and, in fact, one legal issue not properly addressed due to lack of correct information may cost more than the new system.”</p>
<p>Mr van Gaalen says the positive feedback received from councils already using DataWorks and Avand’s willingness to listen to – and incorporate - client feedback were major reasons for choosing the software.</p>
<p>“DataWorks is very much focused on local governments, rather than being a generic document management system,” he explains. “One of the key factors in our decision to go with Avand was the support network they offer to users and the feeling that we would be able to contribute to the changes and evolution of the product. I use my staff to make decisions when it comes to considering what we need and I expect Avand to listen to our feedback as we provide it. From the User Group and the User Conference, I got the strong impression that there’s very positive two way communication.”</p>
<p>DataWorks will go live at Circular Head on June 1.</p>
<p>With around 20,000 rateable properties within its municipality, Glenorchy Council rolled out DataWorks to its HR department in mid-January. Since then, HR has ceased recording information to paper, instead filing all documents electronically. Previously, staff had to physically walk to the records department and look up the information they needed in a filing cabinet; now they can access any documents they need from their desks.</p>
<p>“DataWorks gives us much better knowledge of what we have and it’s far easier to access than rifling through a filing cabinet,” says Anna Holland, Information Management Coordinator, Glenorchy Council. “Paper documents can easily disappear – officers take information into the field which means other officers need to wait for their return to access it, or people take files off another person’s desk – so being able to access records from the one spot, and knowing they’re complete will be very reassuring. This will become more evident in phase 2 of the project.”</p>
<p>Initially, there were some concerns regarding the privacy of confidential documents being saved and accessed via the electronic system, but these were quickly alleviated.</p>
<p>“Some staff were apprehensive the new system would compromise on security, and that employees could stumble across information they weren’t meant to see,” Ms Holland explains. “We’ve proven, however, that the security within DataWorks is first class and only the people who need to access the files can do so.</p>
<p>“There’s a real level of comfort in knowing the material stored in DataWorks is 100 per cent safe, no matter what happens. When documents are stored electronically, we can be confident nothing is going to go missing.”</p>
<p>Training will be an ongoing process, particularly as Glenorchy Council expands the use of DataWorks down the track.</p>
<p>“We’ve found DataWorks to be fairly intuitive so it hasn’t been too difficult to get a handle on,” says Ms Holland. “I especially liked the browser interface because a lot of people are comfortable with web technology these days. The software is a very user-friendly product.”</p>
<p>Ms Holland says seeing DataWorks in other councils and at demonstrations gave her a good feel of the product.</p>
<p>“We’d heard favourable comments from other councils already using the software. Plus, the Council was implementing a new financial and property system which DataWorks could integrate with so that was also appealing.”</p>
<p>In July, the second phase of the project will go live. This will involve all of Glenorchy Council’s property files being recreated as electronic files and any new work done in that area being linked back to DataWorks. Subject files – such as community development issues, governance matters or specific projects – will also be moving into DataWorks. This will see all 150 desk-based staff at the Council using the new system.</p>
<p>Chris Gorry, Chief Executive Officer for Avand, says DataWorks’ enterprise content management functionality provides an easily accessible repository for storing documents across departments, and helps organisations ensure they are meeting compliance requirements.</p>
<p>“DataWorks stores complete and up-to-date records of all files, giving organisations control over their content and the confidence that these will meet industry compliance regulation,” Mr Gorry says.</p>
<p>He says the close working relationship Avand has with its clients ensures the evolution of DataWorks’ functionality is an ongoing one.</p>
<p>“While there are many issues inside councils which are experienced across the board, each organisation is different and therefore has different information management requirements,” Mr Gorry explains. “Because we work so closely with our clients to ensure DataWorks is meeting their unique needs, we are able to ensure the software continues to develop as necessary.”</p>
<p>About Avand</p>
<p>Avand is an Australian developer of enterprise content management software, DataWorks, used by more than 170 organisations throughout Australia and New Zealand across State and local government, utilities, education, transport, health and corporate industries. DataWorks provides a powerful platform with automated workflow functionality for streamlining information capture, sharing, distribution and management. Backed by expert knowledge and more than a decade’s experience as a market leader, Avand creates comprehensive software solutions that raise productivity, improve customer service, meet industry compliance standards and deliver measurable return on investment.</p>

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