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Bankstown City Council has invested $3.8 million in an IT project set to go live by November this year.

The project includes financials, human resources, payroll, asset and records management and land information systems to service 55,000 residential ratepayers and more than 600 council staff.

The council replaced its IT infrastructure back in 1998, after its building was gutted by fire in 1997.

Raymond Dunn, the council's manager for governance and administration, said the decision to embark on the new IT project was not prompted by the fire, but was reached after the council reviewed its IT strategy and decided to move from 'best of breed' to a total business solution.

Dunn said a business improvement team, which involved user members and managers from across the council's divisions did the initial planning for the project.

Derek To, the council's internal auditor and IT commissioner, said a business improvement team identified 472 business processes - apart from the council's corporate system -- which signalled the need for full integration.

According to Dunn, four bids, from consortiums and vendors, tendered for the project.

"When the selection process got down to two, neither could do exactly what we wanted, so we spoke to them and explained what we wanted. Neither could offer us total business solutions but each could offer elements," Dunn said.

As a result of the 18-month planning process, the council chose one of the tenderers, the Geac Deloittes consortium, which provided solutions including Advanced Data Integration's electronic management system DataWorks, along with Geac Pathway, SAP Financials and Resource Management Software. To said these products will integrate to provide the council with a total business solution.

Meanwhile, to achieve a successful implementation, Dunn said the secret is to get all the users involved.

"You need to make sure each of the main users signs off on the project. Also, your investigations have to be ruthless and thorough as it is a pretty tight market and people are trying to sell products. You have to be prepared to sort out the facts from fiction."

To said the $3.8 million investment will also see the council's networking and desktop environments upgraded as well as providing a platform for the council's e-business plans.

Scott McKeown, project manager, total business solution with the council, said the project will help staff work smarter and harder, adding that productivity from a council perspective will be at a high level.

As a results of the project, staff will have instant access to corporate information.

Dunn said he is confident the council will avoid integration problems with this project.

"We are really confident that whatever we have asked for and we've contracted for will run smoothly, especially as integration is the integral part of this project. Basically, for the vendors no integration equals no pay!" Dunn said, adding the council has "hammered" it into their chosen product suppliers that integration is a key part of the project.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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