County gets new fi­nan­cial soft­ware

The Covington News - - LOCAL - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

Re­plac­ing the county’s “di­nosaur” of a fi­nan­cial soft­ware sys­tem was hailed as one of the most im­por­tant votes of the year by Chair­man Keith El­lis and Com­mis­sioner Le­vie Maddox last week, be­cause, they said, it will make the county more ef­fi­cient and make in­for­ma­tion more ac­ces­si­ble.

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously to spend $316,173 to pur­chase busi­ness man­age­ment soft­ware from Texas-based Tyler Tech­nolo­gies, with an an­nual main­te­nance cost of $36,000.

The soft­ware is in a cat­e­gory called “en­ter­prise re­source plan­ning” and al­lows for in­te­gra­tion of mul­ti­ple de­part­ments, in­clud­ing fi­nance, pur­chas­ing, hu­man re­sources and oth­ers.

In her re­port to the board, Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Michelle Kelly said the goal was “to pro­vide one cen­tral repos­i­tory for all in­for­ma­tion” pro­duced namely by ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices and hu­man re­sources.

She said the two de­part­ments han­dle the county’s pur­chas­ing, ac­counts payable and re­ceiv­able, fi­nan­cial and grant re­port­ing, hir­ing and pay­roll and ben­e­fits, and also as­sist all 28 county de­part­ments and other groups, such as the Recre­ation Com­mis­sion and Se­nior Ser­vices, with fi­nan­cial and bud­get man­age­ment.

Com­mis­sion­ers were in fa­vor of the switch be­cause it will al­low them to re­ceive more fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion more quickly, which they’ve said will be one of the first steps in start­ing on true strate­gic plan­ning.

Maddox said last week the fact the fi­nance di­rec­tor has to print out some re­ports and then man­u­ally type them into Ex­cel al­most made him “want to cry.” He said the board and cit­i­zens ex­pect and want the staff to be pro­fes­sional and have the tools to get the job done.

The Tyler Tech­nolo­gies bid was not the low­est, as Michi­gan-based BS&A Soft­ware had a fi­nal bid of $258,894; how­ever, the com­mit­tee that stud­ied the pro­pos­als felt Tyler of­fered a su­pe­rior pack­age. Tyler also has mul­ti­ple clients in Ge­or­gia, in­clud­ing nine coun­ties and four cities.

Kelly called her cur­rent fi­nan­cial soft­ware a “di­nosaur” and said the new sys­tem would greatly im­prove day-to-day func­tion­al­ity and ef­fi­ciency.

(The county is) go­ing from the Atari ver­sion of soft­ware to the X-Box.

— Michelle Kelly New­ton County Fi­nance Di­rec­tor

At times, em­ploy­ees have to en­ter data two or three times, and Kelly said re­ports are not easy to gen­er­ate. Given staff cuts and ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­i­ties taken on by em­ploy­ees, Kelly said re­duc­ing re­dun­dant work was nec­es­sary.

“(The county is) go­ing from the Atari ver­sion of soft­ware to the X-Box,” Kelly said in her re­port.

The soft­ware won’t be used for a while be­cause of train­ing re­quire­ments and a re-think­ing of pro­cesses, Kelly said in her re­port. She said the soft­ware will be im­ple­mented within four to six weeks of a con­tract be­ing signed, and it will go live for the fi­nance depart­ment six months af­ter im­ple­men­ta­tion and for pay­roll and hu­man re­sources 12 months af­ter im­ple­men­ta­tion.

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