Financial software system passes major milestone
A core team charged with directing ITDs transition to a new financial management system celebrated the conclusion of the first major phase last week and took a collective breath before launching into the next phase.
Approximately one-third of the way through the 15-month process, the transition team concentrated in the envision phase on identifying gaps between present ITD processes and capabilities of the new Advantage 3 package from American Management Systems (AMS).
The gap-fit analysis produced no major surprises and relatively few areas where Advantage 3 and ITD needs do not precisely match, according to Ken Stewart, Automated Systems Manager in the Administrative Services Division.
The gap-fit analysis helps us determine how the program can fit our needs, where there are gaps and how to address those gaps so we can continue moving forward, Stewart adds.
Most of the things identified in the gap-fit analysis we already knew about. Others we have addressed and solved. There have been a few significant but no insurmountable gaps. One of the reasons we chose the AMS product was because it meets most of our demands without the need for major customization.
Stewart said three primary teams representing financial/procurement, technical and Human Resources have been working on shrinking the gaps. They have exceeded our expectations and are ready to take it to the next level, he said.
AMS has committed about 10 employees to the project at ITD. They function as part of ITDs transition teams and will continue through the remainder of the process. Stewart expects several other company representatives to become part of the create phase. ITDs core team includes about 40 people who integrate their regular responsibilities into nearly full-time work on the transition.
Teams have been meeting almost daily since early summer to test and document business scenarios.
We have been entering and tracking information, and tried to include actual data to see how it works, explains Janice Biggins a consultant who serves as ITDs project manager.
As a result of early testing, the department has identified a few internal processes that need to be modified to conform to the Advantage 3s capabilities and complete the marriage between the software and ITDs needs.
Given the broad nature of the processes, customization (of the AMS program) should be minimal, Biggins acknowledges. That reduces the long-term cost of the system.
Some of the changes identified during the envision phase might be incorporated into future AMS software releases as improvements or enhancements, benefitting not only ITD but also other clients.
With the first phase completed, transition teams will enter the create phase that moves the process from the drawing board or conceptual realm into a working product. The result will be a system that is functionally ready to meet the departments needs. Nearly everything except activation will be completed during the second phase, which should be finished in late spring 2005.
Stewart says about 300 department employees use the present Integrated Financial Management System from Oracle. Those who continue to perform similar functions in the new system will receive detailed training next spring on the new system. One of the systems features is electronic timesheets, so all ITD employees eventually will enter data directly into the web-based system.
Detailed training will occur just before the system is fully activated in July, Biggins says. Waiting until just before the launch date will help ensure that important steps arent forgotten before users apply the training.
The final or achieve phase of the 15-month project, targeted for July, will be full operation.
AMS haigginss been very impressed and pleased with the working groups and how much they have achieved, says Sue Simmons, Administrative Services administrator. The partnership has worked extremely well."
The transition team has been working closely with the State Controllers office to ensure compatibility with the states payroll system. Controllers Office staff and financial managers of other state agencies are following ITDs process with interest.
Photo: Janice Biggins, AMS project director, handed
out fun gifts during a recent ceremony that marked the end of the envision