By Paul Hemsley
Local Government Managers Australia Queensland Inc (LGMA) will oversee the $30000 project assisting 12 Indigenous Councils identify and source a common software system.
Minister for Local Government, Paul Lucas said LGMA will oversee the tendering project and employ an independent consultant to review four suitable systems.
Assessing the need for a software overhaul was prompted by the change in service provider and the advice that the ‘old practical system’ the councils were on would be phased out and all councils already on it would be moved to a new platform.
Indigenous councils now fall under the same legislation as all other councils since the Indigenous Councils’ Capacity Building Program legislation was implemented, meaning their reporting requirements have also changed.
The Department of Local Government has been working with them on capacity building, which includes their ability to report and meet the requirements of the Queensland Audit Office.
LGMA CEO, Peta Irvine said councils using the old platform will need to come together and make the choice to either upgrade the existing platform or use a new provider.
“The issue for Indigenous councils is a lot of the systems are quite sophisticated, they have really good rating processes, but Indigenous councils don’t rate, so there are a lot of things that the systems offer and that the clients pay for that actually aren’t appropriate for Indigenous councils,” Ms Irvine said.
They are trying to find a product that suits them and their needs so they are not paying for things they “don’t use because they don’t need them or they don’t have the people with the skills to use them”, she said.
According to Ms Irvine, most of the councils are currently using the ‘old practical system’ provided through Civica.
“Civica has a replacement product and that may end up being the most suitable one, but there are also a number of other players in the market and they might have a system that works,” she said.
Ms Irvine said the challenges in the project are understanding the individual needs.
“There could be some variations between councils, but the biggest challenge was just having everyone on the same timeline,” she said.
She said the councils’ biggest challenges are that they do not have IT expertise “lying around” that they can use to investigate this.
According to Ms Irvine, training for the software is a critical part because of initial training followed by ongoing support.
“If they switch platforms, there’s significant cost in that, but for councils the bigger cost is ongoing; maintenance, training, all those things, so that’s a really critical part of the process in evaluating all of that.
“Given isolation, that makes it more difficult,” Ms Irvine said.
Ms Irvine said there will be opportunities to share resources with councils if they decide to go with a similar platform or the same platform.
“Many of these councils have staff based in Cairns, so if someone’s got a problem, someone sitting next to them in Cairns might be able to fix it because they’ve had training,” Ms Irvine said.
Work between the LGMA and the councils involved nominating someone to put together an initial expression of interest to identified providers.
“There will be a panel of three representatives from the councils who will get together with the IT expert and they will do an initial evaluation and they will probably do a site visit with the councils, select a council that is already using the product and have a look and see how that’s working from there,” she said.
She said the councils will end up with a preferred supplier followed by negotiations and discussions from that point.
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