City transitioning to new software, having conversion issues

The city has been undergoing multiple software conversions, all fraught with issues and unanticipated delays.

The city finance department has been transitioning to a new software for about a year and in November, the updates caused a glitch in the forms that allow the city to print checks and the city couldn’t print checks from Nov. 10-23, according to City Manager Greg Doyon. The glitch affected all city departments.

City utility billing software now live

He told The Electric that the vendor was able to provide a work around last week so that the city could again cut checks.

The city was still able to pay bills via electronic transfer, if available, and the city wired payments to vendors for critical invoices on Nov. 20, according to city officials.

Employees are paid by direct deposit and were not affected.

City converting utility billing system

There can be additional costs with wiring money or using credit cards to cover bills, and Doyon said the city is tracking all of those costs and looking at options to pass those costs to the software company.

The city is also “exploring all legal avenues to respond to or remedy this situation,” city staff said in an email to The Electric.

Doyon said that the software conversions have been “very difficult, I think in large part because of travel issues/restrictions from vendors who usually travel to conversion sites to assist directly with the transition, but are not (traveling) due to COVID-19.”

The city has had issues with Tyler Technologies software in the past.

“I had reservations, but the staff involved at reviewing new software, both users and IT folks, vetted the software themselves and with other communities. It is frustrating to all involved that once purchased, the conversion goes poorly or the software doesn’t do what they said it would. After we sign on the dotted line, it is tough to reverse because the commitment to the software is made,” Doyon said in an email to The Electric.

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The finance software included financial management, procurement, comprehensive annual financial report, human capital management, utility billing, accounts receivable and collections functions, according to the contract documents.

The City Commission voted in September 2019 to approve the contract for the new software, Tyler Technologies Munis.

The city was using another Tyler Technology software for these systems previously since 2012 and the contract was set to expire June 30, 2021, with the last payment due July 1, 2020.

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Commissioners approved the three-year agreement for $531,475 plus estimated travel expenses of $66,250. Years two through three were estimated to cost an additional $126,386 and $129,705 for annual maintenance and hosting, according to the city documents.

Following the third year of the agreement, the agreement automatically renews, unless terminated otherwise, at the then-current fees, according to city documents.

Since it was another Tyler product, the change in software was considered a sole source software upgrade and there was no penalty for terminating the agreement for the other software early. The last year of that contract payment was applied to the Munis implementation cost, according to city documents.

In September, city staff wrote in their agenda report that “Tyler Munis provides the best all in one solution for functionality. The new software will greatly enhance the Human Resources functionality. Munis will provide additional reporting capabilities, a one solution process for recruitment, application processing, and on-boarding. In addition, Munis software will allow the city to use one cashiering solution (Tyler Cashiering) that was purchased when Community Development purchased the Energov software solution. The Finance Department will also have additional functionality with this software.”

In February 2019, commissioners approved another Tyler Technologies product, Energov, for planning and community development, public works, engineering, IT and mapping. The total first year cost of the agreement amounts to $358,102.00 with years two through three costing $141,627.00 annually. Following the third year of the agreement, the agreement automatically renews, unless terminated otherwise, at the then-current fees, according to city documents.

That system also replaced a Tyler software that had been in place since 2012.

The new Energov system will allow citizens to apply for permits, pay for permits, request inspections online and securely access project status updates online, and apply for trades’ licenses such as plumbing or electrician licenses and Safety Inspection Certificates online. Applicants will have the ability to securely access their requested license information online at their convenience.

Implementation of some of those features have also been delayed.

In 2017, the city purchased a new public safety software after significant problems with Tyler Technologies’ public safety software suite.

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Problems with the former software contractor, New World/Tyler Technologies, began in 2014 and both city and county agencies had performance issues with the software.

May 2016 joint work session concerning New World

In 2016, the city filed a lawsuit and a 90-day noticed was given to Tyler Technologies to fix 90 of the known deficiencies or defects with the software and in May 2016, the company advised the city that it could likely fix 40 of those issues within the allotted time frame.

July 2016 work session concerning New World

The city entered into a contract with New World Software Systems in 2011 and went live in June 2013, according to city documents. New World was bought by Tyler Technologies in 2015 and both the city and county continued having performance issues with the software.