Joint IT tender saves $440,000

A groundbreaking joint tender has saved four councils in Central West New South Wales more than $440,000 in implementing new information technology systems.

The multi-million dollar venture is the largest project undertaken by the Wellington Blayney Cabonne (WBC) Strategic Alliance of Councils.

Cabonne, Blayney and Gilgandra Councils, along with Central Tablelands Water, participated in the unique joint tender to become the first NSW councils to sign a contract with West Australian-based provider IT Vision.

The WBC Alliance initiated and coordinated the project, achieving significant efficiencies by managing the tender process across all four councils and obtaining a discounted purchase price.

WBC Chairman and Cabonne Mayor, Councillor Ian Gosper said the installation of the new computer systems was a huge undertaking, involving many key staff from each council as well as extensive training for hundreds of employees.

“All four councils were in the position where they had to replace their corporate IT systems within the next few years,” Cr Gosper said.

“By working together we have not only achieved very large savings in the purchase price and tender process, but further efficiencies through shared training and data conversion.”

The joint tender process produced savings on administration, advertising and legal fees, as well as removing the need to engage an external contractor. The four councils jointly engaged a contractor to work with an in-house team to develop the evaluation methodology and framework for the selection process.

By choosing the same provider, the councils were able to achieve a large saving on the software price, while group negotiations led to further inclusions.

This meant Cabonne, Blayney and Central Tablelands were able to develop a common general ledger and common processing for key functions, such as creditors and debtors, opening an opportunity to develop shared services in the future.

Formed in 2003, the WBC Alliance has saved its member councils $4.6 million during the past decade through savings and efficiencies, completing 55 major projects ranging from the implementation of common IT systems to development application kits, fleet management and procurement arrangements, asset management and training.

WBC Executive Manager Donna Galvin, who coordinated the IT project, said the Alliance has been at the forefront of local government reform through resource sharing and collaboration.

“The fact that three WBC partners worked with Gilgandra Council on the IT project demonstrates the importance of the Alliance’s goal to implement collaborative arrangements not only within our organisation, but regionally,” she said.

Although savings achieved by the WBC have been a windfall for ratepayers, Mrs Galvin said intangible benefits, such as sharing information, occupational support and work practices, couldn’t be represented with a dollar value, but were some of the Alliance’s greatest strengths.

Mrs Galvin said the WBC’s experience with collaboration had ensured the success of the IT project through strong project management, sound communication strategies, clear evaluation and decision-making and good governance.

“While it required significant commitment, resources and staff involvement, all those who worked so hard on the project would agree they have learnt new skills, formed new collegiate relationships and expanded their professional capabilities,” she said.

“This project is an outstanding example of what can be achieved through collaboration. The outcomes have been valuable not only for the individual councils, but more broadly for local government in NSW.”