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City hall’s oft-delayed software project expected to launch by January

City hall has been attempting to install an internal software program worth nearly $2 million since 2019, and after several setbacks, the complete installation appears to be on the horizon.
A group of computers. File photo

City hall has been attempting to install an internal software program worth nearly $2 million since 2019, and after several setbacks, the complete installation appears to be on the horizon.

During its April 25 regular meeting, city council voted unanimously to hire Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) Digital as the implementation services provider for $225,000 to install a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central System. Council also voted to spend $95,000 to acquire the necessary annual Microsoft licensing for business central and related applications from the lowest cost source.

The main core financial systems at city hall that business central would support include general ledger, accounts payable, third-party accounts receivables, fixed assets, procurement, inventory, job costing and reporting. 

Other municipal software systems that business central will incorporate include payroll/HR system, existing Central Square Systems, SharePoint and Questica Budgeting. 

Implementation of the new Microsoft program will start in May, with a go-live target date of Jan. 1, 2023.  

The approved project budget is $1,927,617, of which $1,316,000 has been spent, a council report said. The remaining funds will be spent to address 10 areas, while any remaining money will be transferred to the 2023 asset management project. 

Project background

When council approved the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system project in late 2019, it awarded the contract to Central Square’s Diamond Municipal Systems for $1,927,617, explained finance director Brian Acker.  

City hall has implemented most of the modules since then, while the overall system went live on March 1, 2021, he said. City hall also worked out the bugs and the system appeared to be working well. 

However, employees discovered issues with the Diamond Municipal Systems and its ability to handle certain core financial aspects, Acker remarked. Since the financial module would not be sufficient for the City of Moose Jaw’s needs, city administration informed Central Square that the city would use a different program. 

“Having said that, we did agree with Central Square that we would continue on with our property tax, e-billing and customer portal, so that’s the virtual city hall,” he said. “Those ones are in the process of being implemented now. E-billing is ready to go. We just have to determine how to roll that out to the public to get people to sign up with their email addresses, and then we’ll be able to send them an electronic utility bill.”

The property taxes module should begin operating in July and go live in January 2023 — a new fiscal year — while city administration plans to implement the virtual city hall soon and have it go live next January. 

Moving to a different program left city hall with some “very large gaps” in the system, with many expense-related modules in the old system and revenue modules in the new system, Acker said. So, city administration hired MNP to review the system and create a roadmap where everything could come together.

MNP suggested the city go with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central System, a newer version of the Dynamics program, he continued. It would allow city hall to pull all its information together, allow business central to be the main hub, and have every system feed into it.

MNP also provided product demonstrations for city hall staff, and overall, the demonstrations were positive and employees believe the system can work, Acker added.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, May 9.  

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