Transition to new AMS Advantage under way
The implementation of the department’s new financial, human resources and procurement system (ITD Advantage) is on the verge of completion.
The human resources component of the system went live Monday (Oct. 24) and will be followed immediately by the phased-in use of electronic timesheets beginning Nov. 7. The financials and remaining parts of the system will go live Dec. 12. ITD Advantage will replace the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) the department has used since 1998.
ITD employees and CGI-AMS consultants began the project in April 2004. The first phase – Envision – was completed in October 2004; the project has been in the Create phase since that time.
Although some “loose ends” still need to be addressed, everything is coming together as the department makes the transition to the Achieve phase, the beginning of which coincides with go-live scheduled for Dec. 12. The Achieve phase includes all of the post-production activities.
The use of electronic timesheets will be phased in over the next five months, beginning with the Nov. 6-19 pay period. The first wave of users includes ITD personnel from the Division of Administration as well as time-entry and time-verification personnel from other divisions and the districts.
Training for this first wave of users began early this month. Training for subsequent users is scheduled to begin the first week of January, and the use of the electronic timesheets for those remaining sections will roll out in two-week intervals through March.
While the electronic timesheet is being phased in, personnel not yet trained to use it will continue to complete timesheets on paper or will use Microsoft Excel much as they do now.
Printed and signed copies of paper timesheets will be forwarded to their respective time-entry personnel for processing. To aid in data entry and to help personnel get used to the new screen format, the layout of the paper or Excel timesheet for Advantage has been redesigned to closely match that of the electronic timesheet.
Although project managers do not anticipate major problems, they are very interested in the payroll component of the new system because it impacts the most people.
Consequently, for the first pay period (Nov. 6-19), ITD personnel must create two copies of their timesheet: One for the new Advantage system and one for the old IFMS as a backup.
This dual entry is required as a precaution in case problems surface with Advantage that would require postponing its use briefly. This approach would allow ITD to fall back on the old IFMS system to process payroll data if necessary.
Training for accounts payable and other users will begin next week and will continue through Nov. 21. Supply and Human Resource personnel already completed the training for their respective areas.
On Nov. 21 the final conversion activities will begin for financial and procurement data. Transactional data, such as encumbrances and balances, will be moved from IFMS to Advantage one final time. The conversions are scheduled to take until Dec. 9. Accounts payable and other transactions will not be processed during the transition, which should be completed by Dec. 12.
The success of any project is a direct result of the quality of the people called upon to make it happen. The Advantage project has been no exception, said Ken Stewart, Automated Systems Manager for the Division of Administration.
“Dozens of ITD employees have been instrumental in making this project happen. Starting with the definition efforts back in 2003, and continuing all the way through to where we are now, people have gone the extra mile.”
Since April 2004, ITD has had a core functional team of about 35 ITD staff.
“These people all have full-time work to do, even without the project. Overtime, staff augmentation and more overtime have made the project possible as critical resources stepped up to get the work done. Kudos to the staff on their ‘can-do’ attitude and willingness to work long hours.”
In addition to the ITD’s core team members, CGI-AMS has had on average of 12-14 consultants working the project.
“The ability for the ITD and CGI staff to work closely together for so long highlights the professionalism of the team. Again, great job!”
ITD’s core team was complemented by about 30 other department employees who were called on frequently to assist with the project. In recent months, Stewart explains, even more employees were asked to help in the testing phases.
“It has been a colossal effort and the hard work is about to pay off.”
ITD Advantage is on schedule to be fully operational by Dec. 12.