County budget system deadline extended: System switch five months off, now matches fiscal year
JUNEAU — Delays in the conversion of Dodge County’s financial system software have some county board members upset and wanting to know whom to blame.
During an update to the board Tuesday night, project leaders Andy Miller and Justin Reynolds presented an extended timeline for completion. They also outlined the progress made so far and the goals to be accomplished prior to going live on Jan. 1, sixth months after originally scheduled.
County Administrator Jim Mielke introduced the presentation, thanking Enterprise Resource Planning project team members for their contributions to switch from a JD Edwards system (used from 1997 to 2019) to a Tyler Technologies (Munis) system.
Board members Cathy Houchin and Jeff Berres, both of Watertown, complained about transparency during the process, and not being properly apprised that the system launch would be delayed.
“In the private sector, if something like this would crash in the form that this crashed, some people might not be there today,” Berres said. “My question is, who is responsible?”
“The responsibility lies on my shoulders,” Mielke said. “One thing I do take exception to is that the county has not crashed. That is an inaccurate portrayal of where we are. The project deadline has been extended for the best interest of the project and for the best interest of the county.
“Everybody involved is focused and is dedicated to the success of this project. The success will be a collective effort of everyone involved as it moves forward. I have trust in the team and if anybody wants to see dedication in action, I welcome them to attend our ERP meetings. You’re welcome to attend at any time.”
Reynolds, the Dodge County Information Technology Director, explained that the new ERP system involves financial aspects of operation including accounts payable, accounts receivable, activity accounting, budget, cash management, chart of accounts, contracts, fixed and capital assets, general billing, general ledger, inventory and work orders, journaling, payroll budget, project ledger (grants), purchasing and cashiering.
Departments will continue to use their own systems as needed, such as the Highway Department’s CHEMS (County Highway Expenditure Microcomputer System), used by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. There is no substitute for that program, or several others.
Munis is only for finances.
According to Reynolds, now is the time for an upgrade.
“JD Edwards has done real well for the county but as systems age, their life cycle is a lot shorter,” said Reynolds, who was hired in January. “The practices in 1997 are a lot different than they are currently in 2020. We’re migrating the system. We’re also migrating policies and procedures from one system to another.”
Even with the delay, there is an expected surplus of $233,000 of the budgeted $2.2 million program switch. A bonus for the delay is that the results will be clearer and easier to implement.
“It’s always a good idea to start with a new budget year,” Reynolds said. “We’re building a system, and this is not an unreasonable thing to encounter. There are benefits for the extension including more training opportunities and a smoother transition. This will definitely work better for everyone.”
Training will be provided for all the people who use the system, including power users (30) and end users (150). Training is to begin Oct. 18, with a go-live date of Jan. 1.