With a bunch of different internal systems struggling to speak the same language, the IT manager at Macedon Ranges Shire Council was forced to look for a product to align all of its required functions into one system.
The council’s manager of information and communication, Maureen Trezise, told Computerworld Australia the previous systems were inefficient and failed to understand one another, resulting in a struggle to keep up with the demand of ratepayers’ enquiries and the limited capacity to manage the enquiries.
Following an extensive trial and tender process, the council has kicked off an $800,000 project to implement Infor’s Pathway product to streamline these processes in a centralised automated system.
“We started the process about 12 months ago, in which we had a working party of about 30 that developed the specifications for the system then went through the demonstration, evaluation, site visits before making the final recommendation to the steering committee,” she said.
“During that process we went to an expression of interest and then a tender, which we shortlisted down to three vendors including TechnologyOne, Infor and Civica.
“It came down to the Infor product best meeting the functionality of our requirements, it had the right technical platform that we were looking for that was compatible with our existing platform, and the ease of use also scored very well in our evaluation.”
The council was given numerous product demonstrations by Infor, which were done on site and attended by numerous member of council employees who would be affected by the system. This was then followed up by on site visits to other councils that were using the Infor product as their main information system so it could be assessed operating in a live environment.
Implementation began in February this year, an accelerated timeframe, Trezise said, and has been followed up with a scoping exercise to ensure the functionality required by each department has been considered before configuration. A data mapping exercise followed to ensure data could be migrated from the old system into the new system and training has now commenced.
“The support and training was one of the advantages that we saw in Infor’s tender submission to us,” the council’s director of corporate services, Glen Owens, said.
“Their training package and the process they intended to go through in providing that training was one of the features of their product that we particularly liked.”
The implementation will take a two-pronged approach with the Pathway implementation going live on 1 November this year, followed by the e-Pathway modules to be phased in during the first half of 2012.
According to Trezise, a number of modules will in fact go live on the first date in November, including an expanded version of the online payments module as citizens already have access to this function.
“Citizens can also currently look at a building application online, so we’re going to replicate that by go live as well,” she said.
Residents will have the flexibility to access and request council information online 24 hours a day with the ‘self-service’ option allowing residents to pay for parking infringements, planning and building permits, and health registrations in real time.
Owens recommends those looking to undertake a similar project not to underestimate the importance of a robust procurement process.
“The idea of a thorough tender evaluation process is one that I would strongly recommend,” he said. “We benefitted enormously from the demonstrations from the three vendors and were able to agree with them on a three-day demonstration, which I found particularly useful.
"When combined with the onsite inspection of the other councils, it helped add to our knowledge and helped understanding of the product.”
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