New software will give Price citizens more say in services
Sometimes every organization needs a different ray of light cast on their operations to find that there is a better way to do things.
At Price City that ray of light came from a company that approached them about their financial, human resource and customer service software.
The city had been using the same software for the last 25 years to manage its business, and it seemed adequate. It was updated periodically, but something seemed to be missing.
"I just didn't realize we were operating in the dark ages until we saw this," said soon-to-be retired Financial Director Pat Larsen. "The last upgrade that was installed from our present software just didn't work. The reporting capabilities were not adequate."
Over the years the city had been approached by various software suppliers, but either the systems they had were for much bigger communities or much smaller ones.
"We are kind of an odd size community," stated Lisa Richens, who has now moved up to be the Financial Director for the city. "We'd been looking for the last five or six years but hadn't found what would work."
Then a representative of Tyler Technologies came by and showed the city what they had. Soon the city was sending out requests for proposals to a number of firms and getting back those documents.
"Only two were returned," said Larsen. "One company was too small to handle what we needed. Tyler's proposal seemed to fit our circumstances."
The city knew it would have to change software last year so it had budgeted for a new program system to the tune of $200,000. Tyler's bid was $198,000.
While that may seem like a lot of money, the savings in time and the fact that it will replace three to four other systems already used by the city will offset a lot of the cost. Expanded abilities will also mean better capabilities for both supervisor and employee information and contact. Modules in the system also allow a lot of interaction with the community on a lot of things.
"One the things we like the best is the total backup of our records that the system provides" stated Larsen. "If we had a disaster here they could handle what needs to be done from another location. During the Katrina disaster they were affiliated with a couple of organizations in the area it affected and they were able to handle their needs seamlessly."
Richens said that reports and supervisory information will also be in real time as well as plentiful.
"Supervisors will be able to review information on employees," she said. "Employees will be able to do a lot of things with their work files that we now have to do for them. They will be able to keep track of their pay, make arrangements for vacation and leave, manage insurance, make changes that happen in their life as far as addresses and other information, etc."
The modules are integrated so that human resources, the managers and supervisors and the employees can see what is going on.
One of the best features is the provision of real time information. That way managers can control what is going on instead of waiting a week or two to find out what needs to be done to make their departments more efficient.
As for residents of the city, the new system will allow people to do literally all interactions with Price over the web. People will be able to file immediate payments on accounts using credit cards, get utility bills and graphing comparisons, file for business licenses and pay animal licenses.
If something is wrong with their utilities they will be able to file a work order on line for repairs and inspections.
Eventually the public will be able to get building permits and order inspections on line too.
"This is going to take some time to implement as we work through the modules and get trained on them," said Richens. "We will begin implementing some of this in the spring. I think we will be fully in operation on the system by the end of next year."
The system that is being purchased was cut down a bit from the original to fit the counties available funding by $12,000, but what was eliminated were modules that can be added later.
"The training we will get on this software is substantial," said Richens. "They will be here for several weeks setting it up and helping us."
Larsen said almost half the cost will come from inputting all the data and setting up the software to work right for the city. Based on conversations with other users of the software the support for the software is very good.
The city will also have a license and hosting fee they will have to pay too. That cost under contract will be $33,371 per year.
Larsen, whose last day is January 20, has served five Mayors and spent 35 years at the city. Even at the prospect of doing what she wants to do every day rather than be working at the city she's excited about the possibilities the new software promises.
"Once they get it all put together I want to come back here and see how it works," she concluded.
With the new software residents will be able to inform utility crews when something needs repair by filling out a work order. Residents will also be able to review their utility accounts, including usage from over a 13-month period and do many other things once the software is up and fully running.