Shire Council - Saving Time with ISYS
Sutherland Shire Council is one of the
largest local councils in NSW, in terms of the number of people it serves.
It covers 370 square kilometers along the southern coastal border of
Sydney and serves a population of 206,000. As would be expected, Sutherland
is a very busy council. Around 100 different issues go to council each
week and the records of meetings and reports are substantial.
The Council uses ISYS:web to publish ten
years worth of Council and subcommittee meetings, policies and decisions,
NSW government acts, community directories, lists of voluntary community
representatives, and various Council fees and charges via an intranet
for an office staff of over 500.
Storing most of their files in MS Word
documents, the Council uses the dynamic HTML conversion of ISYS:web
to serve the document to the browser. ISYS:web also highlights hits
and offers hit-to-hit navigation. Combined with ISYS Rich HTML, which
retains the native file format and creates an on-the-fly virtual table
of contents, ISYS:web offers instant access to the latest corporate
When training new people on the ISYS system,
Trevor Rowling, Governance and Systems Support Manager at the Council,
often tells the story of the Council's first practical application of
ISYS. In 1994, the Council made a decision to form a Community Transport
Committee. Ten months later, the person who had put forward the proposal
wanted to know what was happening with the committee.
A Director instructed his secretary to
find the document relating to that decision. She spent two entire days
hunting through reports, to no avail. Finally she went to Trevor, then
Senior Administration Office, to ask if there was any way he could help
her find the decision. He was testing ISYS at the time and typed in
a simple query 'community transport committee' - in less than a second
she had the report. "She was ready to hit me," said Trevor. "It was
in a report completely unrelated to transport. During a meeting on a
completely different topic, someone had raised it at the end and the
decision was just tacked onto the end of the report. She would never
have found it. ISYS is so good because it is not subject or title based,
it relies purely on the text."
Only recently migrating from a networked
version of ISYS:desktop to ISYS:web, Trevor says the benefits have increased.
Not only is there instant access to information but it's also always
current. "An ISYS intranet is a particularly good system for information
that is constantly changing," said Trevor. "Like our community information;
instead of issuing new paper lists every time there is a change, the
person responsible simply updates the document and ISYS does the rest."
This system places the burden of currency on fewer shoulders. Instead
of every individual maintaining a filing system of the latest version
of information, only the person that generates the document has to be
up to date and by virtue of the owner of the information being current,
everyone else is as well.
"For example," said Trevor. "We have had
a few policy changes resulting from the GST. Finance published a policy
on petty cash recently and it was really easy. They wrote the policy,
saved it, and everyone was immediately aware of what was involved."
The Council intranet also supplies corporate
forms such as leave forms, requisitions and templates. Instead of the
Council printing thousands of forms, staff simply print them off on
a 'need to use' basis.
Accessing information on line also means
that the council employees don't need to keep piles of manuals and directories
by their desk.