Case Study 2: The Auckland Libraries Smarter Systems Project
Auckland City Council, Manukau City Council, North Shore City Council, Rodney District Council, and Waitakere City Council.
The public libraries of the five local authorities currently operate automated library management systems that are due for replacement or major upgrade in the near future.
The five local authorities identified an opportunity to work together to evaluate the costs, benefits, and feasibility of jointly purchasing a replacement library management system and, if these are proven, to proceed to purchase, implement, and jointly operate the system.
A Memorandum of Understanding was agreed in 2002, followed by a project implementation plan in May 2003. Each phase of the plan provides exit points for the local authorities involved. The phases are designed so that, if a local authority does decide to exit, it can take away a tangible product.
A Project Board, consisting of the manager of each library and an Information Technology Projects Manager, oversees the joint arrangement. The Project Board has hired an external project manager, and set up an Information Technology Advisory Group, consisting of information technology managers from each local authority. The Project Board meets fortnightly, briefs the project sponsor, and seeks the endorsement of the Auckland Chief Executives Forum at key milestones.
The financial costs of the joint arrangement are shared equally between the local authorities to reflect the equal benefits expected to be gained from the project. The five local authorities contribute direct funding, as well as a range of non-cash contributions, such as banking, financial reporting, and the provision of office accommodation for the external project manager.
The number of parties in the joint arrangement has been limited to five to ensure that the project remains focussed, to collectively build on the readiness of each party to participate, and because of the strong working relationships that already existed. It is anticipated that other local authorities may join the arrangement once the management system has been selected and installed, and the basis for sharing costs and responsibilities has been established.