Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council is Driving Its Digital Transformation with SurePact

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About Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council

Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council is a local council in Central Queensland, surrounded by the South Burnett Region. In the 2021 Census, Cherbourg had a population of 1,194 people, of which 98.9% identified as Indigenous Australians. The town is located within Wakka Wakka tribal boundaries, with many different clan groups represented in the population.

Although the town was originally founded in the early 1900s under a policy of segregation, today’s Cherbourg prides itself on being a forward-thinking council, sensitive to the needs of its growing community.

The council owns all the houses in Cherbourg, and there are minimal external enterprises, meaning it relies heavily on grants from Commonwealth and State Government bodies for its funding.

Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council

The problem

Like all councils, Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council is subject to annual government audits, and must be able to demonstrate how funding is being allocated with full transparency and accountability. Internal communication and approvals for project variations have also been identified as areas that could be streamlined and improved.

Sean Nicolson, Cherbourg’s Economic and Community Development Manager cited at least “three or four levels of approval” when it comes to variations, and extensive manual documentation that “needed to be gathered, put together and signed off,” all of which leads to inefficiencies.

The council also prioritises digital transformation, and sought out technology that supports this transition.

“We are embracing technology and are trying to bring our businesses into that space as well,” Sean says. “There are several reasons for this: Firstly, it is of interest to management to run a business as efficiently as possible, so there is obviously the efficiency analysis.

“People are also interested in technology – they use it all the time socially now and we want to bring it into the workplace. For instance, instead of banning mobile phones and bringing that antagonism into the work environment, we have got employees with phones, we tell them how to use it for work and as long as they’re productive we’re happy.”

The solution

SurePact’s software offers Cherbourg an integrated solution to streamline all the activity related to a project in one place, and maximise the value of their grant funding. The software offers built-in analytics and real-time reporting dashboards to allow oversight of a variety of projects, particularly with regards to the construction and maintenance of social housing.

This includes using SurePact to manage a range of major projects under the Works for Queensland program, which supports regional councils in undertaking job-creating maintenance and minor infrastructure projects.

“We have various projects under that umbrella, including adding a range of pathways around town and fixing up a radio station that was not in good condition.”

By tracking these critical projects through SurePact, the council has visibility over all details, such as initiation and completion dates, funding approval status, environmental safety, and workplace health and safety compliance.

“We can even access photographs of before-and-afters, as well all the grant documentation, sign-offs and Form 16s.”

The results

Managing these projects on SurePact has improved communication, flow and progress tracking, making vital information instantly accessible to all key stakeholders. This ease of access enables the council to provide timely and accurate progress reports – both internally and to funding bodies.

“When I attend my monthly council meeting, I can easily demonstrate on SurePact where each project stands time-wise,” Sean remarks. The platform’s transparency provides the ability to showcase the council’s high standards of ethics, quality risk analysis, WH&S accountability, and procurement documentation.

SurePact has enabled Cherbourg to avoid time and scope blowouts and improve overall communication.

“In the corporate and business world, managers always say, ‘But I wasn’t told, I had no communication, I didn’t know.’ With SurePact, there is no manager that has any excuse for a lack of communication. Everyone can see exactly where they are and their part to play, from the accounts department to project, economic and asset management teams, and each individual subcontractor and work crew.”

The SurePact software has also significantly sped up Cherbourg’s approvals process, with easy accessibility meaning decisions can be made quickly.

“External stakeholders can just access the project and see what’s going on. With a phone call, a decision is made, and the project moves forward.”

As they continue to use the software, Cherbourg has found the SurePact team responsive to their suggestions.

“They actively seek improvements and are willing to discuss them and look at them,” adds Sean. “It all happens in six weeks, and you won’t find any other software that does that.

“SurePact is so convenient, and every day we are updating projects. As more of our staff become familiar with SurePact, it will become further integrated into our systems.”

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