The City of Stirling is a local government council in the northern suburbs of the Western Australian capital city of Perth about 10 kilometres north of the central business district. The City covers an area of 104 square kilometres and had a population of approximately 220,000 as at the 2016 Census, making it the largest local government by population in Western Australia.
Since 2018, the City has been moving from an on-premises SharePoint 2013 environment for its intranet to SharePoint Online hosted on Microsoft’s Office 365 platform. In early 2019, the Councillor’s Portal project was approved and the City set about to find a suitable technology host. After much research, SharePoint Online was selected to host the new Councillor Portal. The Councillor Portal launch was to coincide with the local government elections held on 19th October 2019 with the aim of providing the new Elected Members with a state of the art digital experience for their unstructured digital content. For this reason,the deadline for the project was set to just after the election – this was an immovable deadline!
The City’s Councillor’s Portal has been adopted by all Elected Members, and they now enjoy a secure, modern, friendly and mobile-device ready user experience to their content, forms and compliance activities related to paperwork and approvals.
The following benefits were realised:
- Easy to use and visually appealing portal with mobile device support.
- Easy to navigate document management for minutes and other council business.
- A rich events and appointment tracking system supporting the publishing of council meetings and special events.
- The digitisation of 20+ paper forms with process automation and email notifications.
“Connected Systems helped us move to the modern look and feel we required to aid our City’s Elected Members’. They worked behind the scenes to get us to the product we had pictured.”
– Jade Menegola
Elected Member Services Officer, City of Stirling
Modern Dashboard Experience
Getting access to resources needs to be simple and intuitive. A dashboard home page was created to make access to resources easy to find.
Current Minutes and Agendas
The City had some very specific styling requirements that aligned the Councillor Portal with the external website. This meant the way the Minute and Agendas were displayed needed to be a similar online experience. Connected Systems built an accordion web part that worked by grouping (expand and collapse) headings using metadata tagged against each document.
The screen below shows the grouping by current meeting documents and is grouped by the metadata meeting type and meeting date.
News and Updates
Internal and external news related to the City has been consolidated in one area in the Councillor Portal; all news and updates available in one location.
It was important to deliver a landing page where the Elected Members could access the strategic and business plans, governance documents and general guides. The Connected Systems accordion web part was used to great effect allowing the rolling up of the document content into logical areas so the Elected Members could easily find the documents they were after.
Connected Systems built the accordion web part so that the configuration used the library’s view definition. This put the power of maintaining the columns and groups into the hands of the end user.
Elected Members’ allowance spreadsheets are managed through the Councillor Portal. Each councillor is able to view and track their allowance balances, which the Elected Member Services team processes. Each library is personalised for each Elected Member, ensuring privacy and security of allowance and expense claims.
Sensitive City document information is centralised using the Councillor Portal. This eliminates the need to email document attachments. Elected Members can securely connect to the confidential document libraries to review and comment on posted documents.
Using the accordion webpart, the documents are grouped by year and category making referring to these documents simple, logistical and secure.
Tracking events and meetings are key for all Elected Members. Events are synchronised by the City’s IT department into a centralised SharePoint Event list. These events originate from a shared Outlook calendar and are synchronised multiple times daily.
Connected Systems developed a new calendar web part to enhance the out-of-the-box experience of viewing and managing events. The web part supports two views; the first view is a list view with background images that make viewing the events a little more interesting. These images are set based on the category of each event. The view is able to be filtered by date and category (as shown in the image).
The second view is by calendar view and shows a colour-coded monthly view of all events for the City. For days where there are more than three events listed, the “Show more events” button allows Elected Members to see an expanded view of the days’ events.
Elected Members can select each event which takes them the to the event details page showing the location and any additional information.
Digitising paper forms was seen as one of the major productivity benefits gained from the Councillor Portal project. Over 20 paper forms were digitised using Nintex for Office 365. Workflow was added to the online forms to support the automation of the request approval.
The form portal landing page contained links to initiate the forms (as detailed in the image below).
Once launched, each online form is completed and submitted for approval. The appropriate departments are notified, and the Elected Members are kept informed on the status of the approval via email.
A PDF version of the form is created during the approval process, and this is stored for record-keeping purposes.
When the City’s Elected Members attend conferences, they document their attendance and findings of the conference. This can then be reviewed by all Elected Members. A comprehensive and historic list of these reports is easily made available for future reference.
Photos and images captured of activities related to Elected Members (like the recent swearing in of Elected Members after the local government elections) are stored and managed for easy reference. A picture gallery with thumbnail image can be sorted and searched using keywords tagged against each photo.
PARTNERING WITH US
Connected is a technology consulting organisation who specialises in providing innovative technological solutions to meet the needs of customers both today and into the future. Specialising in Branding, Application Development, .NET bespoke development, SharePoint technologies and BizTalk solutions, we offer our customers tailor-made, easy to use solutions to help increase productivity using the latest Microsoft technology.
We pride ourselves on developing solutions that assist our customers with obtaining rapid return on investment.
Founded in 2006, Connected Systems is an Australian company. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we are focused on building our solutions on the Microsoft platform, which is the common architectural foundation that allows customers to integrate and share all IT assets and resources. This means customers can not only react to events, but they can also proactively manage their IT environments to pursue new business opportunities quickly and respond to market dynamics more effectively and competitively.
We endeavour to stay at the forefront of the Microsoft technology curve. We are committed to providing our clients with the competitive edge they need to “make the difference” to their business.
Our aim is to provide our customers with fit-for-purpose solutions that clearly add value to their organisation. Connected Systems is dedicated to providing value-added technology consulting and development expertise; this ranges from strategic planning, design, development and testing and commissioning of the system. We also offer support services. We work smart and leverage our depth of expertise in strategic planning, application development and systems integration to ensure the best possible solution outcomes for our customers. We work collaboratively with our clients to either take on the responsibility of the project (through fixed-price engagements), and we also work well where there is a sharing of responsibility for the decisions and direction a project may take (time and materials).
As well as our specialist areas of development regarding Microsoft technologies, Connected Systems has extensive experience in many non-developments, consultative based service offerings – for example, ICT Strategic Planning. We offer and have performed strategy consulting, analysis and governance consulting for some of Australia’s largest private and public sector organisations.