New project funding model integrates Council software

Many software packages are developed independent of each other and Local Governments often inherit a mish mash of packages that operate on different systems, don't talk to each other and generally drive down efficiency.

Moreland City Council was no exemption so it developed an innovative solution.

Director Corporate Services James Scott said to meet these challenges, Moreland City Council decided to replace its core information systems with an integrated solution for the Council's ten major applications, that were to be developed and maintained in partnership with an IT service provider.

An overarching project, named the iETEC (integrated E-Technology) Program, was set up to deliver the complex process and system changes needed by the organisation, and it did so very successfully.

The iETEC program's objectives were to improve customer service, increase internal responsiveness to issues as they arise, drive business efficiency, manage risk and monitor performance.

The project delivered on all of these with major benefits coming from a new customer request system, the introduction of extensive e-Business self service functionality and the implementation of a document and action tracking process for transparent accountability with performance measurements.

Located on the northern edge of Melbourne's central business district, the City of Moreland covers an area of 51 square kilometres. Moreland employs some 1,170 staff across six departments and 22 branches.

It currently has 142 capital and operating projects under way, with an allocated budget of more than $16 million. James Scott is responsible for Finance and Business Systems, Governance, Information Technology and Citizens Services.

He said to counter the significant cost of such a large undertaking, an innovative financial approach was adopted. The majority of the project cost was borne by the selected IT partner (Jigsaw Services) that will amortise this cost over a ten year period and invoice the Council each quarter. Effectively, the Council pays for the resource as it is consumed.

The partner manages the service delivery provided by third party IT vendors and act as second level application support to Council's IT staff.

For the first time Prince2 project management methodology was used by the organisation, and applied to all of the 18 sub projects. This has now been adopted as standard for all Council projects, not just IT ones.

There were challenges to overcome, including the retention of project managers and staff to the resistance to change in some areas of the organisation, and the shortcomings of specific application systems relative to the requirements.

Project variations were managed carefully via a program board led by the CEO, some major changes were made, such as application system replacements, and others which broadened the systems implementation from that originally planned.

A number of the new approaches and tools used during the project have become commonly used throughout Council - such as the exploitation of electronic Document Management System capabilities and the program management governance approach.

The model for the project funding was unique and is suitable for other Councils contemplating major system refurbishment, but daunted by the upfront financial resources required.

For further information contact James Scott on (03) 9240 1111.