Managing information is one of those paramount issues that large organisations usually have to face sooner, rather than later.
But when that organisation happens to be the legal branch of the Federal Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA), which handles around 5000 legal advice and 1000 court and administrative tribunal cases annually, the problem of managing large volumes of documents can become exasperated by the complexity of the information handled.
So, when DIMA's IT department went into the marketplace to see what information management solutions were available to them, they compiled a list of very strict criteria they intended to use as search guidelines.
"We went through all potential solutions looking particularly at cost and development time, [but] no off-the-shelf products met all our requirements," Don Craven, DIMA's IT project manager, said.
DIMA looked for a custom-made solution and eventually gave the project to a Lotus Business Partner and specialist Notes development company, Fulton Technology.
"Basically, we were required to build two modules for DIMA's Opinions and Litigation sections," Fulton Technology's managing director, Peter Colvin, said of the $200,000 undertaking.
"Firstly, there was an advising or opinion system for which they needed to be able to record information and then request advice on the basis of that information. They then needed to track that process through to completion and build up a knowledge-base for information, so that all the previous advice given could be referred to via a powerful searching technique," Colvin explained.
"The second part of it is what they call the Case Manager or Litigation system, where the Depart-ment wants to track all its cases that are being heard before Federal and other courts, following each particular matter until it's been concluded.
"The system we built has a lot of capabilities that allow it to handle different court environments and procedures and record full procedure and court details, and then integrate them back into Microsoft Word."
Fulton Technology built the two modules in six weeks and completed the implementation within three months. Although another nine months was then needed to improve the functionality of the system, DIMA's management was impressed by its rapid implementation.
"We had something on people's desktop within one month of starting the application development. A lot of companies tend to make a lot of promises then fail to deliver, but with Fulton Technology, we've had a good experience," Craven said.