Randwick City Council
Randwick City, located about six kilometres south-east of the City of Sydney, is the oldest municipality in NSW outside the city centre. Although highly urban itself, to the north and west of the suburb Randwick is adjacent to Green Park and the world famous Centennial Park, and to Randwick Race Course, one of Australia's iconic race tracks. Recently, Randwick Council won the Excellence in Overall Environmental Management award, granted by the United Nations Association of Australia. Randwick City is one of the largest in NSW, covering an area of 36.5 square kilometres, with its Council serving 120,000 residents. Before Council adopted Infocouncil for the management of its agendas and minutes, Randwick used a system written specially for it in Lotus Notes. Infocouncil was licensed in September 2007. The following before-and-after case study summarises information provided by Julie Hartshorn, Senior Administrative Coordinator, in January 2009. All quotations are from Ms Hartshorn.
The system was manual, and did not specifically provide for attachments, which had to be manually inserted at the bottom of reports in either Word or picture format. Many attachments were consigned to ‘under separate cover’.
Problems lay, not with difficulties, but with inefficiencies. One of the major irritations was that late reports made a mess of sequencing or pagination, each of which had to be remedied manually. Confidential and open Council reports were included in the one agenda, “… making it a manual process to save and produce agendas with (and without) the confidential items. The process was subject to user error.”
Minutes were kept in real time, but only using Word documents, “… with some shortcuts we had established for ourselves.”
Filing and publication
The main problem was that the procedure did not integrate with TRIM. This “… resulted in time delays – particularly with the finalising of the minutes and distribution of action items. The creation of action items from the minutes and ‘TRIMming’ them was a manual and time consuming process.”
There were few organisational or political issues to deal with in the conversion to Infocouncil. “Most people understood that we needed a system that integrated with TRIM.”
Reports, agendas and minutes
There was a marked transformation away from holdups and inefficiencies, “… particularly associated with authorising, ordering reports, producing minutes and action items and the integration with TRIM.”
Ease of access to information
There has been noticeable improvement in this area, not least for the public. “The Infocouncil webpage is much more user friendly than the old system that Council used.”
Efficiency of time usage
As noted, procedures for authorising reports and organising them for the agenda, plus producing action items, have been greatly improved. As to minutes, "the functionality in the Minutes saves a lot of time at meetings – block resolve, the outline tool and the insert division tools have been particularly useful.”
Rating the past and present processes
In comparing the two systems ‘as a whole’, Julie Hartshorn gave the earlier system a rating of 6 out of 10. Infocouncil she rated 9 out of 10.
Previous system: 6
Randwick Council has found there is no area in which the production and management of business papers has not been significantly improved by the adoption of Infocouncil for these purposes.