Three years ago the South Taranaki District Council wanted to develop an information management system in SharePoint that was compliant with the Public Records Act.
It approached Christchurch company Information Leadership that built extension products to SharePoint. A deal was signed for Information Leadership to develop a more robust system based on the software that met the requirements of the Act.
Now the two have formed a partnership to offer “Council In A Box”, as it is known, to other local authorities at a discount, with the Taranaki council receiving a royalty for each package sold.
“This partnership means that councils around New Zealand will reap the benefits of a tailored information management solution, without incurring the full cost of developing their own system from scratch,” says Sarah Heal, director, Information Leadership.
“Council In A Box” uses the iWorkplace features developed by Information Leadership. At present, it is being used by more than 30 New Zealand organisations, including 14 polytechnics but only one council.
Heal suggests the raw specs of SharePoint 2010 are not particularly well constructed from a record-keeping perspective.
“We’ve built a SharePoint platform and design for each business activity,” she says. “No council now needs to start from scratch; they can take those designs.”
Information Leadership provides external consulting support to councils interested in the software package.
The base cost of “Council In A Box” is around $50,000.
“Because information can be accessed much more easily, staff spend less time searching for documents and are able to work together in a more integrated way. This ultimately results in better service for ratepayers,” says Pete Sayers, IT manager, South Taranaki District Council.
Once a user has iWorkplace in place, the first step to introduce “Council in a Box” is to install the records management features. The foundation platform is supplemented by the specific “Council In A Box” designs.
The deployment of these designs is supported by installation, configuration and training activities to make a council as self-sufficient in information management as it wants to be.
Councils with specific business problems they want to solve, such as contract management, can select a subset of business activities only.
Heal says other councils have responded positively to the “Council In A Box” concept.