Australian government goes gaga over ECM

Enterprise content management (ECM) continues to be the buzzword in the Australian government as cities work to meet compliance requirements and improve workflow through document retention and automation.

ECM rollouts have maintained their momentum for the past 18 months as councils broaden implementations by integrating other applications such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

One example is Melbourne-based Brimbank City Council which is on target to complete its ECM upgrade in September, 2007.

The council has gone live with Trim Context’s Document Assembly module, which is part of Tower Software’s ECM solution.

Initially, the council implemented Trim Captura back in 1999 for a small number of staff.

By 2005, the local government authority had made the move to Trim Context, which will be rolled out to all 400 staff in coming months, and integrated with its GIS and asset management systems.

Staff will be able to capture and store electronic documents such as e-mails, Word files and Excel spreadsheets, as well as faxes and scanned documents such as engineering plans and building permits.

According to the council’s business and community general manager, Steve Crawcour, the upgrade will improve information search and retrieval while also securing documents by providing access restrictions.

Document Assembly, which provides document automation functionality, was first piloted late last year.

It helps with routine documentation such as agendas, tender responses, minutes, acknowledgement letters and contracts that involves the re-use of sections of content.

The council’s business officer, Annie Kacanski, said the Assembly module is ideal for managing council meetings. “I use Document Assembly to prepare the agenda, which I then copy into the Council minutes. I can then track and follow up on action items, as well as use it as a search facility or to keep records for the CEO,” she said adding that previously it was a manual process that involved chasing everyone.

“It is also great for version control. We were receiving up to six versions of one council report and I was unable to check which was the latest.”

The module also delivers accuracy of information required under the Local Government Act and legal obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

The council’s IT manager, Ian Hovey, said services firm Knowledge Partners is providing training during the rollout.

Hovey said once Trim has been integrated with MapInfo/Exponare for property searches, it will be extended to the asset management system.

Further down the track, he said the council will look at moving to the latest version of Trim Context 6 for its ice Web browser interface.

Meanwhile in Sydney, delegates attended the Information Management and E-discovery Summit which featured presentations on the Victorian Document Destruction Act as well as electronic evidence and record retention. Commonwealth Bank solicitor, Leif Gamertsfelder, outlined data privacy and protection obligations while the federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, will deliver a presentation Wednesday, on day two of the summit.