Bass Coast is a small shire located on the South Coast to Melbourne’s East. Because of its natural beauty and resources the shire has tourism as one of its two major industries, the other being agriculture. Its coastline of approximately 180 km is one of the shire's major attractions. Approximately half of the people who own holiday homes in Bass Coast intend to live permanently in their holiday homes in the future. Eighty five per cent of these said they planned to retire to Bass Coast. It is generally agreed to be one of Australia's most attractive areas.
Prior to the introduction of Infocouncil, the Council used Word templates for reports, agendas and minutes. Infocouncil was selected in late 2005. The following case study is based, with gratitude, on the survey form completed for us by Sarah Male, Governance Officer.
Sarah notes, "there was a lot of re-work and wasted time. There was much more pressure on the Governance Officer". Adding attachments to reports "… was our biggest problem. Report writers supplied their attachments in hard copy and the Governance Officer inserted them all manually during the photocopying process."
Initial compilation of agendas was a very manual, time consuming process, and "…recompiling agendas (for insertion of late reports, etc) was an absolute nightmare." When asked whether late reports tended to make a mess of sequencing or pagination, Sarah said, "it did, a lot." Handling of confidential items was problematic in the earlier system, with there being "more room for human error."
Compiling minutes was manual but quite easy.
Efficiency of time usage, agendas and minutes
The use of time by those who handle the agendas and minutes is "…definitely more efficient because it's not manual." This is mainly because "…there is less re-work for the Governance Officer. It's a lot easier than it was, and less room for error."
Responses to the change
There was little resistance to the introduction of Infocouncil because "…people were happier for it to be easier," though report writers now have more responsibility for getting their reports and attachments right.
When asked how Managers viewed the new system Ms Male said: "they're pleased with it – they have the opportunity to easily review reports, add attachments and make changes." She also reported that "all the PAs are very happy with it".
Rating the past and present systems
When asked "what rating, out of ten, would you give each system, taking everything into account, where 10 = fantastic and 1 = terrible?", Sarah noted:
Previous system: 2-3