Redmond gets down to business

City lives up to its reputation with move to financial management system

A town that once supplied timber to paper mills, Redmond, Wash., is now home to the captains of the high-tech industry. Microsoft, Honeywell and Nintendo of America all have headquarters there. Saloons that used to serve loggers now welcome bloggers.

So it would make sense that a city built by electrons would run its financial and business applications on something a bit snazzier than a VAX.

But it wasn't. Payroll, financial and human resources applications all ran on a VAX. City staff members tracked action items and issues by volleying e-mails back and forth, said Linda Hermanson, information services manager for Redmond.

City officials had little choice but to move to something more modern, Hermanson said. By using Polaris for Public Sector software from AMX, an Oracle reseller, the city implemented a JD Edwards EnterpriseOne financial management system in July 2005.

Now, about 45 or 50 city employees who work mostly in accounting, purchasing, payroll and sales use the client/server application.

'It was a huge leap,' Hermanson said. The training was thorough, and by the end of the first year, 'everybody was pretty comfortable using the financials. Payroll and HR took longer, because our setup is very complex.'

The software is specifically designed for small to midsize government agencies. AMX Polaris offers tools that automate project budgeting, expense tracking, grant and project management, fixed-asset management and performance reporting.

'I think the thing we really gained was the ability to add functionality,' Hermanson said. The old VAX system was limited. 'Now we're starting to look at setting up electronic payments and employee self-service. We're going to add some things we couldn't do in the old system. This is a system we can grow into, that we'll be able to upgrade and use in the future.'

The next step for Redmond is to move to a Web-enabled version, Hermanson said.
Because Hermanson's staff is small, she appreciated the way AMX collaborated with her staff members on the project. 'They brought in a number of consultants to help with the implementation,' she said. 'We certainly had our bumps in the road, but what's a software implementation without bumps in the road?'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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