Three south-west councils are one step closer to establishing a shared service model under a $4.5 million joint venture which will cut costs, alleviate staffing issues and meet growing demand.
Tenders for a new Enterprise Resource Planning platform closed on Wednesday. The ERP is a corporate digital platform which delivers the core business information systems of an organisation including local laws, finance, payroll, HR and records management.
It's the latest development in a four-year push to form a shared service model between Corangamite Shire, Moyne Shire and Warrnambool City Council.
The push picked up speed when the three councils received a $4.5 million state government grant in 2019 for a business case to share a single ICT platform.
Corangamite Shire Council deputy mayor Geraldine Conheady said the platform - yet to be chosen - would be administered by Warrnambool City Council and benefit all three local government areas.
"I'm excited about this venture, I think it's really really fantastic," she said.
"It's been a long journey since the EOI was submitted in 2018 but we're at a point now where we've got an agreement.
"The project is a great example of how we can work together with our neighbouring councils in an increasingly expensive and complicated space.
"To have a shared ICT platform is going to be an absolute benefit to all three councils. It's going to help position ourselves to greater capacity and scope and be stronger and more secure in all our operations regarding ICT.
"It will create financial efficiencies and opportunities as well and make for more effective management of our public funds and also efficiencies and opportunities for its staff as well.
"Because of the consistency we'll have across our three councils on this platform, there'll be an opportunity for better career structure, training and retention of talent within the region - that can only be of benefit to all of us.
"We've got the legal advice and endorsement of the Joint Venture Governance committee and they agree the unincorporated joint venture is the best fit and represents the least costly and most flexible option.
"I really believe flexibility is a very prudent feature of this agreement. You never know what's ahead of you, you need to have some movement to be able to manage any issues that may arise during the course of the venture.
"We know through our business case we've got a strong financial and structural argument for the change."
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South-central ward councillor Jo Beard said it would also reduce the frequency of duplication.
"This is an exciting milestone for this part of the project," she said.
"At the end of the day, the best thing is that three councils have come together to realise we are all doing the same thing and yet we're duplicating everything we're doing in terms of service sharing so let's do it better.
"As a ratepayer, I'm thinking 'wow, how cool is this?'. That we have councils working together for the benefit of our communities - it's going to be a significant project which we've seen in other industries but I think it's quite unique for us.
"We do do things jointly with our neighbouring councils, we'll see another project coming up soon about our road construction but this is significant because it brings a lot of people together.
"... I'm excited by the potential ops that will come out of bringing these minds together and having these councils working together."
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