NZ Council in control with eDOCS

Palmerston North City Council in New Zealand has gone live with Open Text Document Management, eDOCS Edition (eDOCS DM) and Open Text Records Management, eDOCS Edition (eDOCS RM). The software is being used by approximately 450 staff across all business areas of the Council.

The main drivers for a document management solution were the need for stricter document version control and a desire for more consistent use of terminology, thus enabling easier searching of electronic records. The Council was also looking for a way to facilitate greater inter-departmental collaboration.

Liz Stockley, past Information Manager, Palmerston North City Council, says, “Across the Council we were very careful in the way we managed our own records but it was not always easy to share information between team members.”

The deployment is the culmination of a pilot project which saw Open Text trialled by the Council's Development Services, Environmental Health and IT departments between 2003 and 2009. The extensive pilot period meant that when management approved an organisation-wide roll-out in early 2009, it took just four months to plan the implementation, four months (September – December 2009) to complete the deployment to the Central Administration Building and two months (February – March 2010) to include all remote Council facilities such as its laboratory, depot and libraries. The deployment also involved successfully integrating eDOCS DM with the Council's geographic information system and core financial and regulatory systems.

The first records to be digitised and made available on eDOCS DM were those related to the Council's central business district. A rolling program of scanning is now being conducted for all other property records. Workflow processes have also been introduced to help manage frequently used services such as Land Information Requests.

The Council anticipates that electronic access to records will enable staff to locate documents from any department faster and more easily, leading to improvements in customer service speed and accuracy.
The IT aspects of the project were supported by a significant internal communications program which familiarised users with the document management tool prior to the go-live date. The program aimed to ensure that staff understood what the new system would mean for the organisation; what it would mean for them as individuals; and finally, how to actually use the system once it was up and running.

Stockley says, “When we began the technology was all there and ready to work, so it allowed our main focus to be on the change management, education and training.”

Stockley adds, “eDOCS DM from Open Text is definitely going to improve our management of council records and will make inter-divisional processes easier. We anticipate a significant reduction in storage space with only one version of each document being retained on the network. Although it was not the driver for this project, we also expect that eDOCS DM will assist the Council in its compliance with the Public Records Act.”