Limehouse saves councils $3M per year - Objective

Objective believes it can save each local council in Australia more than A$3 million per year by means of a hosted document authoring and collaboration platform, based on the platform it acquired from Limehouse Software (UK).

Since the purchase of Limehouse in early 2009, Objective CEO Tony Wall has been developing a strategy for the launch of Limehouse on the local market, and to continue its successful rollout in the UK and US.

Limehouse Software supplies hosted collaboration and publishing solutions for public sector bodies across the UK, including 200 local authorities.

Objective has commissioned surveys of the UK and Australian local government marketplace to gauge the "hidden costs" of document production processes that are currently being followed.

In Australia it looked at 120 Australian councils, to map activities, costs and resources supporting the creation and publishing of documents.

Tony Walls, CEO, Objective Corporation, said: “The sheer number of documents, many of which are statutory, produced each year by local government lent itself to this research. This study aims to highlight where, when and how real savings can be delivered against a backdrop of financial constraint and increased pressure for better service delivery to the community.

The study found that on average, an Australian council has 2,458 live and current documents in the public domain. The average annual production of documents is 782 for an Australian council, made up of more than 9000 pages of new content each year.

It notes that "64 per cent of documents produced by local authorities are of low design standard, with little or no structure, formatting or style. Half of all documents produced have no branding whatsoever."

Some of the potential annual savings that Objective's study identified included improving business processes (A$2.6M), more effective use of graphic design services (A$568,000) and improvements in print management (A$300,000).

Walls said, "These figures present a very strong case for councils to consider adopting best practice creation and publishing processes for policy and planning documents, to provide a significant and viable option for delivering ‘hidden’ savings."

Objective will pitch its hosted offering to local councils independently of its ECM product, with a subscription model based on the number and complexity of documents that are authored.

The product will offer local councils a way to centralise the design and management of all the many and varied types of documents that are produced. The XML format will provide a means of tracking and auditing every change to a document.

Adrian Rudman, general manager at Objective, said the Limehouse uCreate tool would help local councils to manage the difficult task of dealing with ratepayer input to major documents such as Development Control Plans.

"We see it as an opportunity to help them collaborate," said Rudman.

"In the future we would like to extend the SaaS offering to more of a "service as a service" offering, he said, "where Objective would have staff in place to monitor legislation and notify councils when there are updates they need to incorporate in documents."

The integration of the Limehouse product with Objective's ECM suite is another potential future development

"Its easy to integrate the two, but right now users don't want to plug ECM into the Net," said Rudman.