Dodge County administrators defend delays in software launch
JUNEAU -- A handful of Dodge County board supervisors didn’t hesitate Tuesday night to ask why there’s a delay with implementation of the county’s new administrative software.
The kickoff for the new Enterprise Resource Planning system was set for May 1 and then it was rescheduled for July 1. The “system ready” date is scheduled for Oct. 18 with the new “go-live” date now scheduled for January 2020.
ERP software applications exist to help implement resource planning by integrating all of the processes it needs for planning, finance and human resources.
Tyler/Munis was selected as the vendor of the ERP system including products, other hardware, software, training, system interfaces and consulting services.
The cost for the project is $2,166,587 and Dodge County Administrator Jim Mielke said, once everything is completed, it is estimated to come in roughly at $233,000 under budget.
Before county supervisors were allowed to voice their concerns, Mielke and some of the project’s team members outlined the plan and stressed the many hours that have been devoted to it.
Mielke said to provide the right amount of training to all who need it the decision was made to extend the “go-live” date.
“I want to publicly thank all of the members on the Dodge County ERP project team and note their ongoing dedication to the project and to Dodge County,” Mielke said. “Everyone is certainly focused on having a successful implementation of the project to have it go-live in January 2020.”
Mielke said the staff has been working “tirelessly to get this program up and running” for the betterment of the county.
Dodge County IT Director Justin Reynolds said the “system ready” date is to insure the system is working for training purposes.
“For end users it is very important that they log into a system of what it’s going to look like, feel like and operate on day one,” Reynolds said. “We don’t want to shortchange quality testing, power user training and end user training with a ‘go-live’ date in July.”
County board supervisor Jeff Berres commended the team on their work and effort, but asked who is accountable for the project if it’s delayed again.
“I think it’s the county administrator’s job to make sure that these employees working on the project are not getting overtaxed in their individual departments,” Berres said. “I feel if we were in the private sector if something like this were to happen some people would not be here today. Who carries the ball as far as accountability?”
Mielke said the responsibility falls on him as county administrator and project sponsor.
“I’ve never had any problem shouldering the responsibility of what’s happening in the county,” Mielke said. “Whether it’s the ERP project or other areas the bottom line rests with the administrator and that’s me.”
County board supervisor David Guckenberger asked if any of the board members or the entire board itself should be involved in the project implementation.
“That’s certainly your call to make,” Mielke said.
Mielke said the meeting schedule for the ERP project is a “very robust” one and the schedule will stand as it was created. He said board members have never been excluded from the project.
“The IT and finance committee agendas have always contained ERP project updates to keep the lines of communication open,” Mielke said. “We have been very transparent with the two committees.”
Guckenberger, who is a member of both the county’s IT and finance committees, said the county pays Tyler Technologies for a monthly status report and he’s asked Mielke for a copy of it, but has not received it.
“Given that I asked for it, but didn’t get the report I don’t see the transparency when I am trying to get involved,” Guckenberger said. “How do we get the information from Tyler to the board. How do we know when you fall behind?”
Mielke said all of the information involving the ERP project is available to county board members including an updated project bulletin each month, which is made available in county board members’ packets.
“I want to see this project succeed,” Guckenberger said. “We hired a contractor and hired professionals. The professional gave us a schedule and now we are not meeting the time line. The only way to meet the time line is to keep our eye on the ball.”
Mielke said the decision to extend the deadline did not occur in a vacuum.
“It involved discussions with Tyler and what they see as being successful,” he said.
Supervisor Kira Sheahan-Malloy asked what happened between April and May that delayed the project six months.
“It was to evaluate the critical components of security and training of the system,” Mielke said. “Without the proper time and proper training that is a huge risk. A decision was made collectively between us and Tyler that the best course of action was to extend the go-live date until January.”