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Colac Otway Shire

Introduction

The Colac Otway Shire is one of the most picturesque municipalities in Victoria, covering a diverse area from volcanic lakes, craters and plains in the North, through the hinterland forests of the Otway Ranges to the Great Ocean Road coastline.

Colac is the key industrial, commercial and service centre for the Shire and surrounding region with a population of 12,000. Apollo Bay is the other major urban centre with a permanent population of 1,000 that swells to over 15,000 during the summer season.
The main industries within the region include primary production (dairy, beef, sheep, crops, horticulture and organic farming), tourism, fishing, timber food processing, manufacturing and service, construction, retail and wholesale.

Prior to the introduction of Infocouncil, Council used Word templates for reports, agendas and minutes, and they distributed and recorded these manually. Colac Otway Shire decided to make the transition to Infocouncil in September 2008. We conducted a before and after satisfaction survey with this council in December 2009 and Suzanne White, Executive Assistant, was kind enough to share her experiences with us. All quotations are from Suzanne’s survey form.

Before and After Infocouncil

Reports

Suzanne has found that overall the process of creating reports using Infocouncil is much easier than council’s previous manual system. We asked Suzanne to compare Infocouncil with council’s previous system, in four main aspects of report writing, and this is what she had to say:

In response to achieving standard, council-wide formatting, Suzanne observed that Infocouncil is “good, as it is easy for staff to use.”

Concerning inserting and handling hard copy and electronic attachments Suzanne noted that Infocouncil (is) “much easier as staff can add attachments to their reports when compiling them.”

For the procedure of getting reports approved, particularly if there is more than one authoriser, Suzanne again observed that this was “easier than with our previous system.”

Lastly, when converting a report from normal to confidential, Suzanne has noticed a large improvement here, stating that there is a “big difference. Infocouncil is a lot more user friendly than our previous agenda system”

Agenda

Suzanne asserted that Infocouncil has allowed “significant time saving especially in the production of the agenda.” Suzanne’s feedback regarding agenda compilation follows:

In the areas of recompiling and repaginating as well as incorporating late reports into an agenda, Suzanne notes that Infocouncil is “significantly easier to use than the previous program.”

Regarding inefficiencies in compilation from a formatting point of view, Suzanne says these are “minimal.”

The ease of changing the queue order of reports; “very easy”

Procedure for dealing with confidential items; “good”

Any irritations or difficulties with filing; “no difficulties experienced so far.”

Minutes

While Suzanne acknowledged that there were a few hiccups that Council had to work through in this area, she also stated that the main functions involved in minute compilation are “easier and much quicker than our previous system.”

Action Sheets

Prior to adopting Infocouncil, council had to manually distribute and monitor actions arising from the minutes.

Using Infocouncil, council is now able to distribute and monitor action sheets electronically via email. Suzanne has found that advising council officers of specific work requirements arising from resolutions is “now a more simplified process and is simple to monitor.”

Overall Rating

Here is Suzanne’s overall rating of the two systems:
Previous system: 4
Infocouncil: 9