Queensland’s newly re-established Noosa Council has come a long way since its community voted to separate from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) in early 2013 in order jettison the Queensland government’s unpopular forced amalgamations.
In short time taken to resurrect the once abolished council, the local government has staged a remarkably speedy recovery and completely rebuilt its information and communications technology infrastructure to help create a fully functional local government.
While many councils continue to labour under the weight of aging legacy systems, Noosa’s abolition and subsequent resurrection has provided it with a silver lining in technological terms by being able to go ‘cloud-first’ from the outset.
It’s a move that’s already reaping savings given that before its unwanted merger into SCRC, Noosa had a full time IT staff of nine. Today it has just five IT staff moving back from SCRC.
To bring the move to cloud to fruition, the council has dialled into the services of Australian software company TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE) and is using the OneCouncil software platform running on the TechnologyOne Cloud.
The deal resulted in a fully operational cloud computing service being delivered to over the short implementation period of just four months – a process that TechnologyOne claims would typically take 12-18 months using “outdated technology models”.
An early public sector advocate of cloud technology, TechnologyOne syas it has has collaborated with 250 councils to develop OneCouncil as a single platform that integrates operations including land and property management, finance, regulatory function, payroll and human resource management.
While larger overseas software providers have typically eschewed selling directly to the local government sector in favour of backing shared services projects, TechOne has made a point of developing a local hosted cloud platform that allows even the smallest of councils access to its systems.
With revenue pressures increasing for councils across Australia, the comparatively small cost of implementing and maintaining cloud infrastructure over building in-house systems is becoming increasingly attractive.
TechOne says that initial estimates guided by a KPMG cost analysis conducted on behalf of the Queensland Treasury Corporation “put the capital expenditure on this sort of IT set-up to be approximately $5 million with an annual operating cost of $3.6 million” in reference to Noosa’s deployment.
One of the big selling points for TechOne was its relatively cheaper enterprise software-as-a-service (SAAS) deal that is worth about $1.2 million in initial licencing and services, and $1 million per annum thereafter.
Following a tender process that involved six other competing providers, the council was attracted to the notion of potentially saving millions of dollars in capital expenditure, depreciation and in-house IT staffing costs.
Noosa Council’s chief executive officer Brett de Chastel said that it was important for the council to be able to stand on its own feet from the start.
Mr de Chastel highlighted the council has already saved money that would have otherwise been spent on temporary solutions by “having our own systems on day one”.
“It is difficult enough to run a council without worrying about ageing servers, downtime and disaster recovery,” Mr de Chastel said.
He said none of this is the council’s core business, so it makes “perfect sense” to outsource all of that to an expert while the council gets on with serving the Noosa community.
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