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Because the financial, human resources, and payroll system of a municipality is packed with data, learning that a town has to change systems sooner than anticipated isn’t the best news, but that is where Madison finds itself today. The town’s current software system is scheduled to become obsolete six months earlier than anticipated, prompting town officials to move some funds and town employees to prepare for months of data conversion.
At a recent Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting, the board authorized the first selectman to enter into a multi-year contract between the Town of Madison and Tyler Technologies for the MUNIS implementation of the Financial /HR/Payroll software system and authorized a $200,000 special appropriation request for the implementation.
To date, the town and schools had been using a system Technology Director Art Sickle called the Phoenix Financial HR and payroll system. Town employees knew a change to a new system would have to be made at some point soon and had put requests into the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) a few years ago.
“Basically at one point we thought that we would be calling Phoenix and telling them that unfortunately we were going to move on to a more current technology, but surprise surprise, they called us and said we are going to sunset the product and it is basically six months ahead of our anticipated schedule,” he said.
For that reason, Sickle asked that the funding designated in the CIP be moved up. The funding in the CIP would have been paid out over two fiscal years; however, the special appropriation asks for the release of funds in the 2019-’20 fiscal year as the current software system will not be supported as of July 2020.
“Generally something of this size, when it comes to implementation, it’s estimated that it takes 18 to 24 months to do and we only have 12 months of support left on the old product,” he said. “I think we can work at an accelerated pace to get the most critical functions up and running within a 12 month period and work on as much data conversion as we can at that time.”
Sickle said the one-time, first-year fees are about $400,000. He said the funds will only be spent as each module of the new system is configured and operating costs of the new system will be built into the fiscal year 2020-’21 budget.
The new system was selected by a committee and through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process. Sickle said the consultant for the system serves 95 out of 169 towns in the state and has a good reputation.
“It’s a cloud-based solution as opposed to a self-hosted solution,” he said. “It’s a real employee management product as well as a full financial system.”
As it is a cloud-based system, some selectmen asked about data security. Sickle said the company has the proper internal controls in place and uses industry standards for data protection.
“I am as comfortable as any IT director could be,” he said. “We are always very concerned about data security and privacy and that is as important for our employees as it is for your constituents.”
Selectman Bruce Wilson asked that those working on the changeover keep everyone in the loop as the process gets underway.
“From my perspective what I would like is if we could find a mechanism for regular updates so that we can find out how the project is going—high level planning information to give us a sense of how you are progressing as you are progressing through,” he said. “That allows us to stay in step with where you are in case you need further support.”
Sickle agreed and said while he is confident town employees can get this done, it is not going to be a walk in the park.
“I can tell you that a not a single financial implementation process is going to be fun,” he said. “There are so many unknowns that we are prepared to be flexible.”
The Board of Finance has now also approved the $200,000 special appropriation.
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