Heart of the city

Heart of the city

Breaking the million mark in documents stored prompts Melbourne City Council to upgrade.

In the not too distant future, the offices of Melbourne City Council will be running like a well oiled machine, with a wealth of information available instantly to its team of staff. This is due to the Council taking delivery of a new web-based platform that will manage more than one million documents.

Enterprise management software provider Hummingbird secured the contract to provide its Enterprise 5.0 to take care of the Authority's document, knowledge and records management requirements.

The contract award followed an extensive review undertaken for the Council, which concluded that it needed to upgrade its IT knowledge management infrastructure with a scaleable solution that could integrate with Microsoft XP and PeopleSoft CRM 8 platforms, enabling employees to capture, manage and distribute information across the organisation within a web-based environment.

Mike Healey, manager of information and technical services at Melbourne City Council, talks about how the Council arrived at its decision and the impact the implementation is expected to have on their operational effectiveness: "We had been using the Hummingbird document management software for the past five years and although there are a number of organisations which provide similar features in knowledge and document management, we were convinced its suite of products was the best solution to integrate with our new Microsoft XP environment."

That is not to say the Council did not fully weigh up all its options, as Healey explains."At the point in time where we came to the decision to upgrade, we undertook an independent review of the marketplace, and that review placed Hummingbird in the top quadrant of products. That, coupled with [the nature of] our existing investment, encouraged us to stay with them."

The existing product in question is PC Docs, the precursor product to the current Hummingbird product set. Healey explains its function within the Council set-up."About five years ago, we started using the PC Docs product. The compelling reason for us choosing that system at the time was that we had a paper-based records management system, but more and more of our documents were electronic and a lot of them were not making it onto our paper file system. With PC Docs, when anyone attempted to save a document, the Docs product would intervene and ask the user to provide a profile, before taking the document and managing it thereafter."

Healey says the success of that system, with over one million documents now stored electronically, prompted them to implement a similar system when looking to upgrade in order to cope with the latest pressing problem facing document management operatives everywhere - email management: "Email is creating a problem for us now because more and more of our business transactions are now occurring in email, and while the current PC Docs product allows you to save emails, it is not so tightly integrated. The new products, on the other hand, provide much tighter integration with the email environment. This was exactly the area we needed to address, and is one of the compelling reasons for doing this upgrade."

While acknowledging the difficulty to quantify the exact benefit of such an implementation in terms of cost savings, Healey is in no doubt that the improvement in efficiency and access to information the new system will provide is sure to have a positive effect on the bottom line: "A lot of the benefit [in terms of the bottom line] comes in time saved sourcing and extracting documents, but it is very difficult to put a monetary value on this.

"This product takes us into a web-based world, as the product operates through a browser, which makes it easier for us to access information away from the office. It also provides a much tighter coupling to the email environment and a much better level of functionality in the records management area, as well as searching capabilities across a whole range of data sources, not just in the document suppository."

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