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City of Minot employees have already invested countless hours into the new enterprise resource planning software system purchased by the City – and there will be plenty more work before the first module of the system goes live in October 2020.
City Finance Director David Lakefield said the current ERP system dates back to the mid-1990s, and although there have been multiple software updates, the system is outdated and difficult to navigate.
The new system, known as the Tyler Munis system from Tyler Technologies, will upgrade multiple aspects of the City’s day-to-day functions, both internal and external. Financial processes, purchasing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, human resources, payroll, utility billing, and other procedures will undergo massive changes.
And while the end result will streamline many of the City’s processes, the sheer amount of work to make the transition successful includes thousands of hours by a long list of City employees.
“It’s a huge project. We’re so far behind the curve, so now to get caught up is a big task,” Lakefield said. “It’s going to put a strain on some things in the next couple of years. It’s going to be a big change for some employees, and that’s why we have a Change Management Team to help make the transition as painless as possible.”
Lakefield said the process to replace the aging system began more than 16 months ago, culminating in the selection of a vendor in April. Three companies submitted bids, with Tyler chosen to present a two-day demonstration.
The massive project will be completed in four phases:
Lakefield and a host of other City employees are currently working with representatives from Tyler to design aspects of each module within the system. Some of the meetings have has been conducted via remote connections, but for the past few weeks, reps from Tyler have been spending three days a week in Minot discussing and designing the different modules.
“Sometimes we may have four or five employees meeting them on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but sometimes we’ll have 10 or 12 people at those meetings,” Lakefield said. “The amount of time put in by our employees for this project is amazing, and there is still so much work to do.”
“We have a Change Management Team and we’ve asked for input from a lot of different folks when we were looking at the requirements of the software,” he added. “So there has been involvement from a number of departments, not just HR, finance, and IT.”
Most of the group meeting with Tyler reps is made up of employees from the finance and human resources departments, but there are representatives from a wide variety of other City departments, too. Once that work is completed, actual employee training will begin, which means more staff time will be dedicated to the project.
“There will be folks from just about every department involved in this. Department heads, superintendents, everyone managing a budget…they’re going to be taking part in the training,” Lakefield said.
Lakefield said the plan is to create the 2021 budget using the new system, and that process will begin in the spring of 2020 even though Phase 1 of the system won’t yet be operational.
“Our budget is created over a few months and approved in August and September, so it’s sometimes difficult to project accurate figures over 12 months or even 18 months,” Lakefield said. “We’ll have a lot more real-time and up-to-date data and details available with the new system when we’re going through the budget process.”
The Tyler system will allow employees to create more accurate graphs and charts with current data, which will make City offices more efficient while providing better information to department heads, City Council members, and members of the public. But getting to that point will take countless hours by an untold number of employees over the next two years.
“In the end, we’ll have a better and more modern system that will allow us to do so much more than we can today,” Lakefield said. “But it’s going to be a time-consuming and challenging process to get to the finish line.”