Council prepares to extend e-comm

Baulkham Hills Shire Council will add a Web-enabled version of an electronic document management system it spent $600,000 implementing three years ago.

Wanting to "ensure its back-office systems were right", before becoming heavily involved with e-commerce, the council began replacing its outdated records management system and stand-alone customer request system in 1998.

With 560 staff members and a population expected to exceed 200,000 by 2010, the council took a "big bang" approach to the project by opting for DataWorks, an electronic document management system developed by Queensland software company, Advanced Data Integration (ADI) to 320 PCs in 1999.

Corporate services director Dave Walker said the council invested about $600,000 in the project covering hardware, software, training and implementation.

Walker said DataWorks was chosen because "it was the only fully integrated system that covered records management, customer request, electronic workflow and imaging in one solution".

"We are now seeing benefits of the system, particularly being able to handle customer requests and we can direct work around the office electronically. Even with an increase in workload and residents, we can answer complaints quicker with this e-system, and there is no manual shuffling around of paper work. It allows us to process repairs quickly and efficiently," Walker said.

"For example, before DataWorks, we would take 14 days to fix 70 per cent of our potholes, now we fix 90 per cent in three days because we are able to distribute the work electronically, whereas before, there was a manual process of physically handing the paperwork around. But now, when there are requests for work to be done, the paperwork gets to the staff doing the work a lot quicker," Walker said.

Walker said the return on investment for the project is being seen through better service delivery and programming of work within the organisation.

"Because of the area we are in, with growth of 6000 to 8000 new residents per year, we have minimised the need for increased staff resources. With the growth of the shire 4 to 6 per cent per year, we can cater for that growth and additional workload with the existing staff resources," Walker said.

Walker said the benefits of improved work processes have also flowed into the area of customer service.

"The customer request module has provided a solution for a large and growing organisation that actually offers a level of customer service that I think is second to none," Walker said.

Walker said the whole purpose of the project and the implementation of an electronic document management system was so the council could "get our internal business systems on an e-commerce footing, before stepping in to external e-commerce".

"Without having completed this electronic document management system project, we wouldn’t have been in a position to go forward with e-commerce, which we are now, with a separate e-commerce implementation under way," Walker said.

Walker said the council's plans for DataWorks include rolling out the Offline Manager and implementing the Web-enabled version of DataWorks, which is to be released in the second half of 2003.

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