FAQs

Choosing a software platform in local government is no small matter - councils seek long term stability and efficiency, and require software partners who know their business. At councilwise, we know your business, because we are in the business!

These faq's can help you understand more about the platform and service offerings. Don't see what you are looking for? Contact us!

Platform

How compatible to our environment is the CouncilWise platform?

If you are worried about compatibility, we got you covered. CouncilWise is delivered via the internet, supports both Apple and Windows environments, works on everything from desktop PCs to tablets and mobile devices. We are device agnostic, and there is no lock in.

But I thought we needed to go to tender - or at least an RFP - in order to procure these types of solutions.

Hey, your call on that one. It is interesting however that no matter how many federal and state productivity reports are generated on IT procurement reform, old ways continue to inhibit real change within our industry. We recognise how disruptive cloud based subscription price modelling can be - that is why we have it.

When costs are reduced to monthly subscriptions with no capex investment... well, check your procurement legislation in your state. We know what you will find.

None of this changes the need for a proper specification outlining your council's needs, and we are happy to provide formal responses to how CouncilWise can address these requirements. We also suggest you have an honest look at your appetite and capacity for change. The organisational culture at some councils lends itself to massive and abrupt change, while in more traditional councils a staged transition is more effective.

Can we use CouncilWise without moving to the cloud?

Not in any meaningful way. While several of our components will work in an on-premise environment, we have designed CouncilWise to work in the cloud, and thus do not sell or support on-premise installations. That said we can help you understand the benefits of the Cloud and work with you to progressively transfer your on premise services into our unified environment. Quite a number of Australian government strategies have moved to 'cloud-first' approaches and are reaping the benefits - no matter how large or how small, your council can benefit from moving into the cloud. We can show you how.

People keep telling me about how risky moving into the cloud is. How do I manage this risk?

Nothing in the technology is without risk, just as there is risk in crossing a road. The cloud has continually been developed through many challenges and has survived all affronts. Data sovereignty, privacy and online mitigation are the foundations of Cloud and Microsoft’s Azure platform is at the forefront in assuring Cloud security. The Australian Defence Directorate assesses security on behalf of government and Microsoft is undergoing certification as a provider of Cloud service to Canberra. This demonstrates the industry commitment to risk management and service continuity.

Ask yourself this question when you think of Cloud sourcing CouncilWise - Can my council match the resources and capacity of the Microsoft Enterprise when protecting my critical information and technology operations?

Still concerned, CouncilWise can provide details of SLA’s and security due diligence considerations to put your mind at rest.

I already have Office 365. Why do I need you?

You are using Office 365 - great choice! No matter how you got here, we can work with you to integrate our product suite into your Office 365 environment. Remember, this is merely the first step - our property and rating, finance, citizen services and asset management system integrate seamlessly with Office 365, so it sounds as if you are ready to go the next step.

That said, we do notice that many local government are already paying for Office 365 but in most cases users are not using the software it to its full potential. We'll be able to assist you in maximising the value of your Office 365 licences. getting the most out of systems you for with your office 365 licences.

What comes with Office 365?

By the time you read this, it will be our of date. Short answer - a lot!

There are many flavours of Office 365

Licencing in Office 365 is always per user, per month, and core plans we recommend users be licenced for:

  • Exchange email
  • SharePoint
  • OneDrive for Business
  • Microsoft Office, to be installed on a desktop/laptop
  • Azure Active Directory

A number of other functions come with most packages, including Delve, Sway, Forms, Bookings to name a few. For additional costs, MS Project and PowerBI can be included, as well as InTune, the Microsoft mobile device management platform.

Get what you need, and use what you want

Before choosing, we'll walk you through the core requirements your council seeks, and the subscriptions necessary to get you on board. Remember, you can always grow with the product, but we will focus on value for money to meet your requirements. Additional capacity and functions can be acquired through subscription extensions if and when it suits the business.

Can I access CouncilWise from anywhere in the world?

You sure can. All you need to access the complete CouncilWise platform is an internet connection and login credentials, and you can get to work. But do remember to have a break from work on your holiday!

Woah. Microsoft Azure. How do I know it is any good?

There are many flavours of cloud based infrastructure platforms. The infrastructure as a service market is quite mature, with some very big players. The market competition globally has resulted in falling prices and increased services - all of these are benefits to a council seeking to move to the cloud.

CouncilWise chose to partner with Microsoft because of the importance of solving local government problems with IT, rather than just reducing costs. Nearly every council in Australia holds heavy investments in the "Microsoft stack" (SQL, MS Server, MS Exchange Server, MS Windows, MS Office), and it is hard to imagine a better match than the Azure platform because it is built to interact closely with client PCs and existing infrastructure. It is familiar and dependable.

Equally important is the commitment Microsoft has made to further develop this platform in ways that make emerging technologies accessible to clients in local government. IoT, machine learning, data analytics, etc - these are technologies that can be daunting for local government to implement on its own (and very costly). Azure brings these technologies closer, even as the pressure and business case to adopt them grows.

We are not talking 'lift and shift' here - our Azure platform has been carefully constructed by Azure ninjas to ensure we are able to provide a seamless, extensible, robust and highly risk averse environment for our clients. This is reflected in our service level agreements.

Programs

Why are CouncilWise and Assetic working together?

CouncilWise and Assetic know Local Government and exploiting our synergies we have a passion to deliver excellence in Asset Management services. Too often we hear horror stories from users about systems cobbled together rather than dedicated for Local Government operations. Built for Local Government, our systems are designed with the user in mind. Being easy-to-use, simple-to-understand and effective, CouncilWise and Assetic delivers pre-packaged Asset Management outcomes.

The CouncilWise team is well versed in using, implementing and supporting the Assetic Asset Management suite. Strategic infrastructure planning and maintenance is not left to chance but underpinned with the tools for evidence based decision making. The Assetic suite is already integrated into the CouncilWise platform and works seamlessly with all other corporate systems such as Finance, Property & Rating, Records Management, and Citizen Services.  Our strategic approach and implementations deliver immense value to Local Government.

Why would I want to use Assetic for asset management?

Assetic is the only company in the Australian local government space which provides an end-to-end asset management offering including software, asset management services and out-of-the-box compliance with industry related statutory requirements. Assetic also delivers market-leading strategic asset management solution based on ISO55000/PAS55 making it a complete package.

Assetic gives asset management professionals – whether they be engineering or finance focused – a central repository for all their asset data to enable more efficient and effective outcomes. Assetic has a strong track record of enabling councils to make better long-term decisions, thanks to unique algorithms and degradation profiles which assist in forecasting future capital expenditure.

The scalable, modular nature of Assetic, and our strong integration experience, delivers councils a solution specific to their needs, and flexible enough to be implemented in stages depending on business need, resources and skills.

I haven't heard of Assetic - tell me more!

Assetic was founded in 2006 and was a brain-child of Ashay Prabhu and Joel Brakey. Assetic was incorporated as a strategic relationship between Ashay Prabhu’s asset management consultancy, and Joel Brakey’s software engineering firm. 

Assetic delivers complete infrastructure asset management through industry-specific software and services and is used by over 100+ Councils in Australia and New Zealand. Assetic’s asset management is also used outside of local government in business critical industries such as utilities, airports, transport, universities, etc.

In early 2013, Assetic partnered with Sydney-based investment group M.H. Carnegie & Co. through the Carnegie Innovation Fund. Designed to support and grow young, innovative companies, this partnership is enabling Assetic to further advance their expansion into new markets and geographies.

Assetic is an Australian, Melbourne born company however now have multiple offices including Gold Coast, London (UK) , New York & Seattle (US) and Ontario (Canada).

I need more information on property and rating.

We wrote the software, and this is our pride and joy. It handles simple and complex rating scenarios covering all jurisdictions in Australia, and we are constantly updating it as legislation changes. Need to model new scenarios as your council's strategy changes? Not a problem. Do you handle water and other utility services in addition to standard council services? Not a problem.

Superior development application flexibility

Flexibility need not mean complexity. You are able to streamline your development application processes out of the box, but flexibility remains in order to cater for your unique needs. With a little training, you can even do it yourself!

All of the extras you expect

Building inspections, receipting, licensing and permits, council registers, animal management, parking infringements - these are the unique activities which form the core of local government business. We handle them all, and actively seek new use cases from our customers as requirements change. If you can imagine it, we can turn it into a business solution and then role it out to all our customers as one of our growing improvements.

Often in the local government software world, you get told the software can do exactly what you want. With CouncilWise, you are working with people who are doing the same work under similar constraints as you, and we are committed to developing real solutions to real problems.

What is "Citizen Services"?

"Citizen services" is our term for front-facing business systems designed to interact with ratepayers and residents. It is our secure portal to allow your community to more easily transact with your council. It is part online form-builder, part customer relationship manager, and part business process tool. As an added bonus, it hooks directly into Microsoft Azure's IoT functionality and ArcGIS Online to provide your engineering staff with a ready built field mobility service. You also get a responsive format portal and bespoke apps available on the Google App Store and Apple App Store, so residents can interact with you any way they are comfortable with.

Tell me more about Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Way back when, "Navision" was developed by a small company in Denmark until it was acquired by Microsoft in 2002. Even today, it is the enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution running the Danish Navy. Renamed "Dynamics NAV", it is now highly integrated into the Microsoft world, offering specialised functionality in manufacturing, retail, distribution and logistics area. While not so common in Australia within local government, you would be surprised at how common it is internationally.

One of the first experiences you will have when moving to NAV is how often non-governmental firms will say to you "oh, we are on NAV too." For too long, local government has been told it needs bespoke financial systems - with NAV, the user base is in the hundreds of thousands, and the R&D budget devoted by Microsoft to ensuring it is relevant and superior is massive.

How much does your current finance system developer devote to R&D?

CouncilWise tailors NAV to include the standard local government chart of accounts, changes sales and manufacturing terminology to match our industry, and integrates the software across the product suite. Oh, and upgrades keeping the software stable and relevant are all included in the price. Not bad!

I want to know more about your records management solution

Let's break it down:

CouncilWise requires its customers to be Office 365 users, as this is the delivery method across all product areas. This makes staff adoption simple as they are familiar with and work uniformly across the product suite. Included in this service is Exchange Email, Microsoft Office - and SharePoint. If you choose our records management product, your instance of SharePoint has Records Management applied and configured - boom, you are off and running, and we train up your records team.

SharePoint - Painlessly

SharePoint is what one could call Very Big Software, normally needing extensive systems admin support and configuration, it is highly capable and highly configurable. We do all this for you in order to get records management running, so that the resource impact of SharePoint admin is minimised for you. Don't get us wrong, there are really cool things you can do in SharePoint, and we encourage you to get into that space! Our primary goal, however, is delivering functional solutions that overcome RM overheads in a consistent and cost effective way, so we focus on reducing the admin burden for operational users. We do provide a tool set should you desire to get into it!

AvePoint

If SharePoint is Very Big Software, then AvePoint are lion-tamers. See more at www.avepoint.com

How can I find out more about you asset management solution?

Check out our Asset Management Page. Here you will find more details, including a link to the Assetic website. If you prefer speaking with us regarding your particular needs or questions, just call us for a friendly chat.

What GIS solution is included?

We are all in with ESRI's ArcGIS Online, a cost effective local government GIS that is user friendly and incredibly extensible. You will be amazed what you can do with it. We can assist in migrating you from other third party GIS systems in an economical way.

While there are a wide variety of very capable GIS packages out there, few offer the broad capabilities and integration which sets Esri apart.

Services & Pricing

Pricing is very different than we are used to - where do I begin?

We are committed to transparency in pricing, and making sure that government procurement moves into the modern age. Give us half a chance, and we will go on and on about it! See more at Pricing.

Here are some easy steps to getting your head around CouncilWise pricing:

  • Choose the product you are interested in
  • Identify how many 'heavy' users and 'light' users you need.
  • Find the corresponding per month user subscription and multiply by the number you require - the result is the per month cost for running the software. Simple!

"Per User" explained

We are not too concerned over whether your council has 2,000 rateable assessments or 200,000. You will still be carrying out the same basic property and rating activities - and this is true of our platform and all of our products. We've focused on the number of actual users you need in order to carry out these activities. Because of this, in the end your size no longer really matters - big councils get a robust, capable software platform, and so do smaller councils.

We've also divided up the product offerings, because we are very aware that some councils are seeking just records, or just assets, or assets and property - the permutations are endless. While we hope you take on our entire offering, we very much understand how change works within local government.

"Per User Type" explained

Several of the solutions we offer make the very valid distinction that not all users do the same things. Your Finance Manager will live inside the finance software, but is unlikely to want to carry out all the activities of the Records Manager, and vice versa. Because of this, we offer 'heavy' and 'light' user types. Typically:

  • 'heavy' users are power users in their specialist area. They need not only broader access to functions, but also the ability to control functions of others. Thes 'heavy' users are often supervising others, but not always. Put simply, specialists in a particular area typically will need a 'heavy' user licence.
  • 'light' users carry out periodic transactions, such as raise or approve a purchase order, log their time sheet, or register a record. They follow processes, but are not responsible for the process. Following from this, it is rare that an executive staff member is a 'heavy' user, as they are typically searching or reviewing reports and dashboards, while their managers are managing the process. A common ratio for 'heavy' and 'light' user numbers is 1:5, (or 1:10 in larger councils) but your council might be different.

Most importantly, we'll work with you to ensure your teams get the appropriate level of user subscriptions without breaking the bank.

"Per Month" explained

We take the cost of software, the hardware to run it on, the support necessary to keep it running and up-to-date, and the security necessary to keep your systems safe - then we figure out how to reduce that to a monthly subscription. We know, it is revolutionary.

Clients are billed monthly, and are able to adjust their user subscriptions as staff come and go. Some common questions we get are:

  • "Sounds risky - can I get a long term contract?" Of course - if you want the surety of a longer term contract, we can work with you on this. You will still be billed monthly, but if this is preferable, then not a problem.
  • "Are there minimum numbers of subscriptions/users?" Yes, several of our solutions require a certain number of base users in order to ensure we can provide the solution in a cost effective manner.

Implementation and Support Costs

We recognise the widely varying organisational capacities of councils across Australia, and that risk appetites differ. Some want a full-service implementation package, while others seek to utilise existing internal resources to implement. Both styles are available within reason, and post implementation our support packages are similar.