Aurukun Shire Council uses SurePact to improve collaboration with external contractors

Aurukun Shire Council is using SurePact to collaborate with external contractors more effectively and deliver infrastructure to remote communities more efficiently.

The client

Aurukun Shire Council is a small Council in Far North Queensland which includes much of the traditional country of the Wik, Wik Way and Kugu peoples.

The Council manages the maintenance and installation of community infrastructure, including community housing, water and sewerage reticulation and treatment, waste collection and landfill operations, road maintenance and construction, development of appropriate subdivisions, marine access, airport maintenance and operations and cemetery maintenance. These deliveries are made possible by working with a variety of external contractors.

Aurukun Shire Council

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.

The problem

The Council identified a need to streamline their project deliveries and track all their activity in one secure location that could be safely and securely accessed by external contractors. Previously, millions of dollars in grants, projects and contracts had been managed through multiple and very large spreadsheets, emails and files on a group drive, and were proving difficult to keep track of.

Aurukun Shire Council Technical Services Officer Anne Boundy says variations – when actual conditions are entirely different from expected conditions – have also been a problem for the Council, leaving them open to potential cost and scope blowouts.

“The problem we had was if workers out on a job have a variation – if they pull down a wall and identify a problem behind it, for instance – the communication and approval would probably bypass us and we would not know about it.

“We could get to the end of the job and receive an invoice from the contractor for variations we knew nothing about, which was a huge issue due to our procurement policy.”

Due to these concerns, the Council sought out project management software that would enable them to communicate and collaborate more effectively with external contractors.

The solution

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

External contractors and Council collaborate within the SurePact system. The cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) allows information to be entered from virtually any internet-connected device in the field, with built-in analytics and real-time reporting dashboards available at all times to those with access to the system, ensuring full accessibility and visibility.

“There are a whole lot of processes involved in each one of these deliveries, and with SurePact we are able to keep all of these processes recorded in one place,” Boundy says.

“We use SurePact across the entire project delivery, from the construction and maintenance work all the way through to accounts payable… Our external contractors can see every step of the process and have access to all of the documentation, including Form 1s and certificates and everything else that has to be produced. It is so helpful for everyone to be able to go in and retrieve what they need themselves.”

The results

Aurukun Shire Council has seen significant benefits from using SurePact to collaborate with external contractors, including enhanced accessibility, transparency, communication and variation management.

“SurePact makes everything accessible and transparent, so you are not relying on one person to coordinate everything and pass information on,” Boundy says. “We all have to communicate together and be on the same page, which we can do with SurePact because everything is there in the one place and everyone has access to it.

“Previously, external contractors were directly contacting the building supervisor to tell them things that were not always relayed to me, so I couldn’t update our records. But when everything is communicated through SurePact – for example, if a project’s schedule is extended due to things like wet weather – it’s entered into the SurePact system and everybody can see it.”

Variations are now entered into SurePact as they occur, so the Council is aware of them immediately, not just when they get the bill.

“SurePact has cut down the confusion about where and when variations have occurred,” Boundy says. “We have seen a reduction in delays in completing deliveries due to variations, down from weeks to one or two days.”

Envisage Building work with Aurukun Shire Council on both minor and major renovations to residential housing and commercial buildings within the community. Heather Crawford from Envisage has seen the benefits of using SurePact in their work with the Council firsthand.

“SurePact has helped us to digitise our filing system for each individual project and helps us to sustain clear interactive communication with each other,” Crawford says.

“Using SurePact has provided us with transparency, time savings, variation management and communication improvements. In particular, the filing system has saved me a lot of time. For example, the documentation of variations and being able to clearly see which variation has been approved and its associated costs throughout the lifespan of the project has created complete transparency between myself, the Council and my site foreman and reduced the time it takes to get variation approval.

“With SurePact, I can clearly see the tasks that I must complete for each project, step-by-step, which has helped me learn the process in which I need to submit documentation to streamline project completion and handover.

“The notifications keep me updated on what documentation I need to complete for us to meet our deadlines and to keep projects on track. It also helps me see if a document has been approved – and if not, I know not to start organising for work to proceed.”

By streamlining and simplifying the process of collaboration, SurePact has transformed the way Aurukun Shire Council and its external contractors deliver projects.