Workflow the key to Council's Digital Maturity
Situated between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, Queensland’s Moreton Bay Region is one of the fastest growing urban areas in Australia. Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC), Australia’s third largest council, has implemented an Objective ECM System for more than 1200 active users to support the delivery of more efficient and effective ways of working inside the council, and new digital services to the public.
As a government entity, the Council’s primary objective is to swiftly and cost-effectively provide necessary services to its constituents, which requires improved interaction and knowledge sharing.
In addition, the Council is focused on eliminating waste by reducing its dependence on paper -based data and manual tasks, streamlining document handling processes and increasing the opportunity for collaboration.
Keith Pattinson, Manager – Financial and Project Services for Moreton Bay Regional Council, said the end goal had always been to ensure that records management and compliance was not just something to be handled by the records management team.
“It needed to be dealt with by everyone in the organisation.”
To mitigate the risk of business users deleting documents without due consideration to the requirements of the Public Records Act 2002, a workflow moves the “deleted” document to a hidden folder where it can be reviewed by a qualified records manager.
“We also wanted to digitise all our business processes and significantly reduce reliance on paper. To achieve that we had to do a lot of things,” said Pattinson.
An evolutionary tale
A task like that does not happen overnight, and Moreton Bay’s journey has been ongoing since the initial adoption and rollout of Objective in 2010. Some big steps have been accomplished so far, including the digitising of incoming correspondence and invoices with EzeScan, shutdown of network drives and implementation of a large number of fully digital workflows.
On the scale of organisational ECM maturity, Pattinson describes the Council as probably in its teenage years, with not long to go to achieve full adulthood.
“Now people are really starting to open their eyes into where Workflow’s going to take them. Because basically the electronic foundation has been laid."
Objective ECM is now a mission-critical system at Moreton Bay Regional Council. It is the source for every document accessed through the Council’s core business applications (TechnologyOne) and Property and Land Information system (Infor Pathway). Workflow automation has been implemented across more than 100 business processes including processing of Development Applications (DAs), Asset Management and Human Resources.
Objective is also employed for document collaboration by internal teams. Interaction with outside organisations currently typically occurs by email but the Council is exploring use of the Objective Connect platform to enable secure sharing of documents held in the EDRMS with outside parties.
MBRC believes the investment in technology and workflow automation is very definitely worthwhile.
Angie Garnett, Coordinator Records and Knowledge Management, believes implementing a workflow demands careful consideration.
“We don’t want to automate a really bad process –that’s a big mistake, all you end up with is another really bad process that’s electronic instead of manual.”
MRBC uses business analysts to conduct proper business reviews to identify processes and justify workflow automation.
Done well however, workflow automation is a “very powerful tool,” says Garnett.
“We do insist that any of these major processes have a cost benefit as a result of automation.
“We now get feedback from our business users, that they are finding ways to streamline their current electronic processes further. People are actively seeking our assistance to automate more processes.
“People’s eyes have been opened to the opportunities, the potential that our digital environment offers. Operating more efficiently is now front of mind for the vast majority of our staff,” says Garnett.
The Council estimates annual savings of over $300,000 already derived from EDRMS integration and Asset Management workflows.
The future will see even further adaptation and innovation, particularly enabling mobile staff.
Developing workflows able to be actioned directly from email is high on Council’s priority list.
“The more we become mobile, the more people don’t live in the office, so the more their office becomes a tablet or a PC,” said Pattinson.
“We have begun the process of automating workflows for our mobile workforce and mobility in Asset Management systems is very important with us right now.”
Moreton Bay Regional Council field workers now use a mobile app on their tablets that links their tasks to the Council’s asset management system, and Objective. For example, photos taken on site, of graffiti or potholes, are imported into Objective, but then accessed through the Asset Management system. If work needs to be done at a later date, regardless of the team working on the asset, the information and photos can be quickly accessed on their tablets, in the field. The ability to do this on site saved around 200 hours in data re-entry in the first three months of implementation. Around 5000 requests per quarter are now managed using this technology.
Ratepayers are also embracing new mobile apps for Customer Requests which can be used to quickly and easily advise the Council of graffiti, pavement damage or potholes from their smartphones, along with photos and GPS co-ordinates and a request for resolution.
The request is entered into the Land Information System, the photo is stored in Objective ECM and a request number is sent to the customer through the app.
“It is a self-service model that’s providing a fast, easy to use service to the residents while also improving efficiency for Council,” said Garnett.
“We’ve eliminated a number of manual processes that occur in more traditional customer service models.”