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Planning to begin for migration to new financial system

The Idaho Transportation Department is about to begin a well-conceived, 15-month transition to a new Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) and its accompanying software suite from American Management Systems (AMS) called Advantage 3.

The new system will provide all the functionality of the present system with the addition of many other features, including a web interface, on-line time sheets, interface to FHWA, proven integration, fantastic reporting capability, grants management and job orders.

"These are exciting times for the Department and this is a major initiative," says Susan Simmons, ITD Administrative Services Division Administrator. "There has been a lot of hard work to get the project this far. Many people have worked hard at putting together the requirements and evaluating vendors. We also have the support of the Board, the Director, the Governor and State Controller behind this project."

The AMS project team will meet with ITD’s core project and process teams in Boise on April 5. This initial session will focus on forming the integrated AMS/ITD teams and to define expectations for the first phase of the project.

The project teams will be organized into six “process teams” that will focus on budget, costing, Human Resources/payroll, receivables, procurement/payables/assets and reporting.

Three fundamental principles will guide the transition process:
1) There will be no customizations of the new system
2) Employees who will use the system will be extensively involved in the transition
3) The emphasis will be on a system perspective, rather than customization

What the latter means, in practical terms, is that ITD will be challenged to look for alternative ways to accomplish a desired function (including changing the process, if necessary), rather than trying to customize the system.

“We recognize that the system will not work unless it meets the needs of the department. And in order to know how we are doing, we need continuous feedback and must provide frequent project status reports,” explains Ken Stewart, the department’s IFMS automated systems manager.

He said ITD is committed to installing a complete system, not a series of “add-on” modules.

That approach is consistent with the AMS strategy, which requires a holistic view. Processes will be adapted to the system instead of altering the system to fit the department, Stewart said.

The system will function properly first, and then security rules will determine how it will be deployed throughout the organization.

The AMS project will be completed in three high-level phases:

  • The first phase, called “Envision” will take all of ITD’s requirements and system needs and put them on a timeline for completion. This phase will define the tasks, the individuals responsible for those tasks, a timeline for completing the tasks and a plan for how they will be done. The key aspects of this phase will be discussion and prototyping to determine and agree upon the specific project goals and to formalize the vision for the new system, Stewart said.

  • The second phase, called “Create” will move the process from the “drawing board” to its actual creation. All of the prototyping, testing, decisions, configurations from the Envision phase will be incorporated into this second stage and will result in a system that is ready to meet the needs of the department. Nearly everything except activation will be completed during this phase.
  • The final phase, called “Achieve” will entail completion of the migration from ITD’s system to the new AMS system.

After approximately 15 months of intense work, the new financial system should be ready for operation on July 1, 2005.