IT considerations for local government amalgamation in NSW
On October 20 2015, the NSW State Government pushed forward with the next step in the local government reform process, releasing a report by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. In this report, the tribunal highlighted that more than 60 percent of the state’s councils failed to meet the government’s ‘fit for the future’ criteria.
As a result, the state government is urging councils in NSW to consider amalgamation and has committed to supporting them through this process. That’s why it has offered $15 million to assist any council wishing to amalgamate and ultimately become more sustainable.
To some councils, amalgamation might seem a daunting prospect. After all, it requires councils to pool their assets, integrate businesses processes and support staff through the transition – and all while continuing to provide uninterrupted service to the local community.
So here are four steps to help councils navigate the IT aspects of amalgamation, and quickly move towards developing an efficient, engaged and future-focused community.
1. Prepare to amalgamate
The first step to amalgamation involves consolidating any data and procedural information that needs to migrate to the new, larger council’s infrastructure. Think of it as a spring clean before you move house. During this step, you’ll need to start developing a consolidated asset register that accurately reflects your assets and their current condition. It’s also the right time to document business processes and employee awards.
2. Plan the amalgamation
During step two, councils must create an interim leadership that can oversee the amalgamation process without interrupting the council’s day-to-day activities. The interim leadership will be responsible for things like reviewing networking options, creating policies for employee selection and comparing extant business processes before recommending solutions to the new consolidated council.
3. Shift from the ‘as is’ to a ‘future state’
For the councils TechnologyOne has worked with, this has always been the most challenging step of the amalgamation process. Councils must adopt a new organisational structure with consolidated systems and policies. This involves selecting a common reporting system, developing a shared IT network and completing the rest of the tasks on your pre-amalgamation road map.
4. Take advantage of consolidated systems
This is the ideal end point for councils on an amalgamation journey. With an efficient consolidated system in place, and staff well trained in using it, you can begin to make positive contributions to your new, expanded community.
Four steps, one solution
Councils need a way to continue their current operations unimpeded until a new system can be fully implemented. And to provide councils with the necessary flexibility, there’s no better solution than an enterprise system built specifically for a council’s unique requirements.
The Office of the NSW Government has already produced an integrated planning and reporting framework that acknowledges the need for local councils “to draw their various plans together, understand how they interact and get the maximum leverage from their efforts by planning holistically and sustainably for the future”.
An integrated enterprise system will help councils achieve this by consolidating formerly isolated processes, such as asset management and payroll, into a single centralised solution. With data flowing freely from one department to another, it’s easy for decision-makers to evaluate the council’s current activities and plot a realistic course towards achieving goals.
A single system also benefits the community by providing them with seamless, real-time access to services 24/7. By connecting back-office functionality with customer-facing systems, you can meet community needs and become a truly digital local government.
With an unparalleled ability to streamline internal processes and accelerate service delivery, an enterprise system offers an appealing long-term solution – not only for councils, but for the local community too.
About Cliff Combes
Cliff is the Industry Manager for Local Government at leading enterprise software company, TechnologyOne. He has over 35 years local government experience, initially as an employee at a number of regional Queensland councils, and for the last 16 years providing software and solutions to the marketplace. This level of experience provides Cliff with an unique insight into the workings of local government and proves invaluable when assisting TechnologyOne customers to resolve and define business solution requirements.
TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE) is Australia's largest enterprise software company and one of Australia's top 200 ASX-listed companies, with offices across six countries. We create solutions that transform business and make life simple for our customers. We do this by providing powerful, deeply integrated enterprise software that is incredibly easy to use. Over 1,000 leading corporations, government departments and statutory authorities are powered by our software.
We participate in only eight key markets: government, local government, financial services, education, health and community services, asset intensive, project intensive and corporate. For these markets we develop, market, sell, implement, support and run our preconfigured solutions, which reduce time, cost and risk for our customers.
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