Aurukun Shire Council identified major cost overruns using SurePact

The client

Aurukun Shire Council is a small Council that can be found in Far North Queensland. It includes much of the traditional country of Wik, Wik Way and Kugu peoples. The Council manages the maintenance and installation of community infrastructure. 

As a non-rate payer-based community, 77 per cent of the Council’s revenue is provided by Commonwealth and State Government funding bodies. Any overrun must be paid for by either reducing future activity or applying for further funding. On the other hand, any savings the Council makes to its bottom line can be redirected to additional projects for the local community. 

Aurukun Airport Upgrades

The problem

Aurukun Shire Council had been tracking and managing millions of dollars in grants, projects and contracts through a series of spreadsheets, emails, hard copy documents and files on a group drive. This was proving unwieldy, and the Council was aware of the potential for less-than-optimal audit trails to limit transparency in decision making and hinder their ability to deliver projects on time and under budget. 

The ability of external contractors to report variations – when actual conditions turn out to be entirely different from expected conditions – was also a problem for the Council, leaving them open to potential cost and scope blowouts. 

As a result, the Council identified a need to streamline and track their grants, contracts, project deliveries and budgets in one secure location that could be safely and securely accessed by all relevant stakeholders and external contractors, in order to increase transparency, mitigate and identify risk and oversee budgets. 

Due to these concerns, the Council sought a software solution that would enable them to manage grant funding and budgets.

This was a pressing problem as Aurukun Shire Council looked to begin works on the $2.9 million Aurukun Airport upgrade.

The solution

In July 2019, Aurukun Shire Council implemented SurePact’s project management and contract delivery software.

SurePact requires external contractors to lodge variations within the platform for approval, providing full transparency and visibility to Council. 

Shane Waller, Director of Technical Services at Aurukun Shire Council, says the SurePact solution has paid immediate dividends for the Council. 

“Instead of trying to keep track of all of the information required to manage a project on massive spreadsheets and in lengthy email chains, it’s a portal that tracks everything that’s required for a project to happen,” he says. “You can set all of your milestones, and you know where you stand at all times. There’s no time wasted trying to track down information, and there’s no lag period when purchase orders go out, because you can see it all sitting there in SurePact. 

“The third parties you grant access to can also see all the information they need, so it enhances communication and collaboration with funding bodies and external contractors. We can all see the progress that’s been made and identify potential areas of concern, which could easily have been missed. It gives us the visibility and accountability that you need to deliver major infrastructure projects on time and under budget.

“Everything is tracked cleaner and clearer with SurePact. We can see exactly what has been spent and what is upcoming in real time, allowing us to know exactly when a payment has been made and how much is left in the project grant funds.”

The results

Aurukun Shire Council used SurePact to successfully deliver the $2.9 million Aurukun Airport upgrade in October 2021. 

With no less than 41 variations logged within SurePact throughout the project’s life cycle, Former Technical Services Officer Anne Boundy was able to identify early on that the project was going to run over budget, and strategies were able to be deployed to manage any fallout.

Without SurePact, this would not have been picked up on, and the chance for significant overspend would have been much greater. 

Looking back on the project’s lifespan, Shane says SurePact played an essential role in its delivery. 

“There were no complaints received about what was done, everything was logged correctly, and we had a strong form of document control, all of which provided huge benefits for auditing and finance purposes,” he says.

“Subcontractors, Project Managers and the Council were all on the same page. We each could see the progress and identify areas of concern, which can be easily missed when tracking through emails or spreadsheets. It negates all sorts of miscommunications, and it holds all stakeholders accountable.

“SurePact has been absolutely vital for us and I feel quite positive that this is the only tool of its nature that can provide the Council with the support it needs.

“I am looking forward to further diving into this platform to help to continue to manage our projects.”