By Ken Stewart
The AMS installation project continues and is progressing well. There have been a couple potholes and detours along the way but all-in-all the journey so far has been rewarding and we are continue to be excited with the capabilities the new system is going to provide to the department.
The big news is that we have postponed the project go-live date and are no longer pushing for July. Instead we anticipate going live in November with time sheets and December for the rest of the system. We were pushing aggressively for the July date but after discussing the topic for quite some time we finally determined that we just couldn’t be ready. Luckily, we have executive support for the project such that it is more important to do the project right than to do it in July.
If we continued with July we wouldn’t have been able to adequately test the system and we wouldn’t have been able to do sufficient training for the users. Both of these items are critical to the success of the project. A couple of the customizations took longer to design than planned and so the time sheet (for example) will not even be delivered until June which would leave little time to test and have ready the following month.
As stated earlier we are making fantastic progress and all things being equal a delay of a couple months would probably be sufficient; however, we are no longer going live in conjunction with the state fiscal year and so there are additional conversion activities that must take place; consequently, we’ve also added time to deal with the extra work now needed for the project.
The project plan has now been revised but this time the schedule is based on how much work there is left to complete rather than creating the plan by starting from a completion date, working backwards and trying somehow to fit all the work in. November/December appears to be very reasonable and recent completion of a couple of significant milestones, namely loading of all the financial modifications and an upgrade to version 3.4.1, has left the team very optimistic.
As a result of these changes, there is an entirely new list of “A” project numbers with an effective start date of July 1, 2005 in advance of the “go-live” date for ITD Advantage. This start date will greatly assist in data conversion. Division Business Managers deserve a great deal of thanks for their efforts in this task. All other project numbers will remain unchanged.
Unit Testing is scheduled for about two months starting in May. Essentially, we will be running through all the scenarios to make sure that the tweaks to system setup that were completed during prototyping didn’t break something.
System Testing includes the cross validation between teams (accounts payable, receivables, project accounting, HR, procurement, general ledger, budget, etc.) of the required functionality to ensure that the system is working as a system, rather than as a series of disconnected modules. System testing is scheduled for about 1 1/2 months starting in July. It also will be done on the production release of software but we also plan on using the production hardware as well.
User Acceptance Testing will take another month or so and is scheduled to begin the middle of August to early September. The significant difference between this “final” formal testing period and subsequent testing primarily lies in the number of testers involved. The test group will be much larger and include representatives from each user area.
Following the formal testing and scheduled to begin in mid-September is the production set-up and conversion. This final step will take us to the first week in November at which time the time sheet will go live and then through November, final conversions will take place in anticipation of an early December go-live.
We have decided that the electronic time sheet will be pushed out in phases rather than have all 1800 employees trying to learn and use the time sheet all at once. Clerks in the sections will be trained to data enter the time sheets much like they do today. Additionally, a limited group of people will use the electronic time sheet to enter their time directly into the new system. At two-week intervals we plan to train and focus attention on additional sections until everyone with intranet access can do their own time sheet data entry.
Using satellite technology, tests and analysis are scheduled that will hopefully result in high-speed Intranet access to the remaining maintenance sheds and other outlying areas. The obvious opportunity for installing this capability is to make available to everyone in the department all of the applications and tools that are currently available within the department to the rest of the connected” areas.
Relative to the AMS project, once installed, this high-speed access would allow those assigned to these remote areas to do their own time sheets or any other capability within the AMS suite that is necessary. That being said, until that access is available, the sheds will need to continue to forward paper time sheets to the districts for data entry. In the future we are also hoping to provide electronic access to your time sheet through the Internet which means you could potentially fill out your time sheet from home. This still needs further analysis so it will not be done at this time.