Environment Waikato moves towards service-sharing

EW seeks software that will give it a single view of customers, stakeholders and land

Regional council Environment Waikato is looking to share services with other councils as part of a major systems redevelopment project it’s undertaking this year.

Environment Waikato (EW) wants to save on the cost of both internal and contract support staff for its current rating system and on upgrade costs, too. EW spokesman Derek Postlewaight says the present system is actually an interim solution that was put together a few years ago, when rating for regional councils was first introduced.

The council has a “contestable work” policy, which means it seeks the most economic solution available. This can result in services being provided either internally or supplied by an outside agency.

To this end, EW has gone to the market seeking new software to support its project and to replace current corporate software. It wants a software suite that will give it a single view of customers and stakeholders, and also include details of all communications and interactions between the various parties. It also wants a single view of land, including properties, locations and areas, with spatial and map references.

The software must also support core business functions, including customer and contact information management, requests for service, rating and financial management, regulatory processes and human resources.

“EW is part of a Waikato-wide shared services consortium company called LASS (Local Authorities Shared Services Limited),” says the request for information document.

“We are also part of a regional council collaboration that undertakes development for some aspects of administration that have not previously been found in Territorial Authority application suites.”

Resource consents, for example, are handled differently by regional councils, says Postlewaight. “And we have harbourmaster responsibilities, which the territorial authorities don’t have.”

“Once EW has identified the... package that best suits [its] needs, we will look to our LASS partner councils and other regional councils to see what shared services opportunities this may present,” says the document.

These could include common or standardised business processes among various councils; shared hosting among councils, on a single platform, or shared application-processing. For example, one council might undertake all the accounts-payable processing for the various councils, while another might undertake all the purchasing work.

Distributed processing might also be considered. Shared procurement, shared expertise, shared development costs and shared implementation resources have all been proposed.

EW has some prior experience here, involving sharing a valuation data service with other councils in the region. However, the council will not make a decision regarding what it might share until it has seen how many of its requirements can be satisfied by the new software package being sought, he says.

“By April we should have an idea of what we can source for ourselves,” he says. Due diligence on the successful supplier will take another month or two, so implementation should start by mid-year.

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