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Council to Discuss City’s Network Software Sysems

At next Tuesday’s worksession, the City Council will review City’s network software systems that is used by the Finance, Human Resources, Public Services and Public Works departments.

Our network software is provided by SunGard Public Sector (formerly known as HTE) and was installed and implemented in early 1999, following a 1998 RFP process. Most applications are being used successfully by the respective departments.

Approximately one year ago, our staff contacted SunGard to respond to multiple requests for simplification of processes originating in Public Services. SunGard staff recommended that a Business Process Review (“BPR”) be performed to improve satisfaction and increase the efficiency of currently-installed SunGard software applications. The BPR was performed in November 2014. A SunGard implementer met with Code Enforcement, Finance and IT staff, reviewed current Code Enforcement (“CE”) processes and work flow, reviewed software setup, and developed recommendations for improvement.

Over the past 17 years since original software implementation, internal programming staff has added additional features, such as laser permit and municipal infraction printing, building permit processing, e-mailing of CE notices to cited related parties, allowing CE notice issuance from tablets in the field, etc. In addition, staff turnover and lack of appropriate training of new staff has created workflow changes in the software that do not meet SunGard’s recommended configuration. The implementer’s recommendations are highly technical in nature, but can be summarized into certain specific areas:

1. Re-implement the CE software setup (as if this was a new installation).

2. Simplify the case-type codes from 1 00+ to 8 primary case types.

3. Follow the SunGard-prescribed order for processing occupancy permits.

4. There are incomplete occupancy permit records for multiple years which have created fragmented data and billing files that need to be resolved. In addition, cleanup of data records is required to eliminate duplicate and blank records in land management. As all modules are interconnected and key off the land record, data errors in one module affect the others.

5. Re-implementation should simplify permit processing by elimination of multiple manual steps currently used to speed up release of permits.

6. Further discussion is needed on whether the SunGard document management system (DMS) is preferable to the City’s use of Word to generate letters and notices. SunGard believes that their DMS improves workflow efficiency.

7. Once re-implementation is complete, significant on-site training of Public Services staff is recommended to ensure proper processing/adherence to changes. 8. Consider migrating from the Select (“green screen”) interface to NaviLine (Windowsbased graphical user interface [GUI]) for ease of viewing data on 1 screen rather than multiple screens. We have requested pricing from SunGard for this option.

It has been estimated that at least 40 -hours would be required for re-implementation and 192 hours for training. These hours do not include what is needed to cleanup data in item #4 above. Based on their quoted hourly rate of $160, we are estimating the total cost of re-implementation and training (not including cleanup) to be a maximum of $40,000. The implementer has scheduled a conference call with the SunGard programmers on May 28 to discuss whether an automated process could be written to move approximately 10,000 pieces of data to their correct location and the estimated cost to do so. SunGard has recommended that this data cleanup be performed prior to re-implementation. If the cleanup is problematic or the cost is prohibitive, we could elect to re-implement going forward and leave the current data as is. However, reimplementation cannot be scheduled until a decision is made concerning the cleanup. Another major factor is the lead time required in SunGard scheduling, the re-implementation and subsequent training could take 6 months to one year to complete.

Staff discussed with the implementer the request to consolidate all billing (occupancy permit, refuse fee, etc.) for a single property into one invoice. We have been advised that it can be accomplished if we change the billing cycle for refuse to coordinate with the respective occupancy permit renewal. During the first year, refuse fees would be prorated by month. This consolidated billing cannot occur until the re-implementation is completed and all applications are working properly.

Staff recommends the following:
1. Once SunGard provides a cost estimate for the data cleanup, the City will evaluate the cost effectiveness of their quote.
2. We have requested pricing for conversion to the Naviline GUI product. It is possible that conversion to Naviline would include re-implementation and training. Contracting for reimplementation and training on the existing “green screen” product should be postponed until firm figures for such a conversion, including training, are provided.
3. Evaluate pricing and timetable for items # 1 and 2 to determine whether we should invest an undetermined amount in the BPR recommendations, or explore other options.

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4 Comments to “Council to Discuss City’s Network Software Sysems”

  1. By David Dorsch, May 18, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

    Dr. Kabir,

    Having had my property inspected by the City for over 40 years I had a few suggestions to save the city money and to speed up the process. I have given a list of these to Council member Denise. I am not so sure the problem, as I see it, is with software or “we have always done it this way”. To start the permit renewal process the city sends out a letter telling the rental property owner that it is time to renew his permit and requires that the permit be paid for before scheduling the inspection. Once the rental property owner sends the money to the city, they than set the inspection date and send another letter announcing the date to the property owner. On the scheduled date the inspector arrives and inspects the property. He has in his position a check list which he fills out. I guess he points out any problems that might exist to prevent the renewal of the permit. I don’t really know as I have never had a problem in over 40 years. The city next sends out a large envelope with Living in CP or some such as well as a copy of the permit to be signed and one or two questions about trash. The property owner needs to return the signed permit to the city where they sign it and send it back to the property owner. That is way too much postage and sending of documents back and forth. My suggestion was to have the city send the first notice of permit renewal and in that notice state the date of the inspection. The rental property owner would be required to send the city the money before that date. The inspector would arrive at the property with the valid permit renewal in hand. If the property passed the inspection gets what ever other info the city needs about trash etc and hands the valid renewed permit to the property owner. This saves time and a lot of postage expense. I have made other suggestions concerning the inspection of rental properties such as changing the term of inspection from yearly for those properties that have a good record to say 3 to 5 years and if needed to 6 months for those properties that have major problems. Remember the reason for inspections in the first place is to be sure that properties are properly maintained. If everyone does that without the inspectors, then there is no need to be inspecting every 365 days. I have a feeling that this whole thing is more about money than what is really needed. For this I cite that the city inspects the multi family properties such as View 1 and View 2. These properties have full time on site managers. I am told that the city inspects them to be sure the smoke detectors and the sprinklers are working. The city gets paid for each apartment they inspect, I think it is $120.00 each. The city should not be inspecting these units. This should be done by the Fire Department as it is done in most other places. The members of the FD spend most of their time sitting around waiting for the next call. They have more than enough time to inspect these buildings for safety. They may already be doing it and as far as I know don’t charge for the service. If the city did not inspect these buildings and the new buildings that are currently being built, they would loose a lot of money. They would not have to have as big an inspector staff as they now do. Again, is the reason for the city to inspect multi family properties for safety or money???. While many things can and sometimes do take place in single family rental structures such as adding rooms or adding or removing walls within the building, these things don’t happen in the multi family structures and therefor the city doesn’t need to be inspecting them.
    Many rental property owners, that own property outside the city of College Park can get their properties inspected by private firms for much less than the City of College Park charges, in some cases half of what the city charges. What I have seen over the last 10 or more years is that the city tries to place almost the entire cost of code enforcement on the rental properties. Coed enforcement should be inspecting all the single family properties in CP. but unless it is a rental property it is never inspected on the inside and the owners are never notified of a scheduled inspection on the outside. Most code enforcement inspections of non rental properties in the city are made by the inspectors on a drive by bases or if they receive a complaint. Please realize that there are more, far more owner occupied properties in the city than rentals, should not the majority of the funding for Code Enforcement come from them, not the rentals where it now comes from? Just some thoughts not a sermon.

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, May 18, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

    David, These are good suggestions for our Code Enforcement System. Let me talk to our staff and see if they can be incorporated as part of the current Business Operation Review process. Thanks again. Fazlul

  3. By Matthew Byrd, May 23, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

    David, you lay out a great case here for streamlining the permit process. The multi-step back and forth truly isn’t necessary, and appears to merely slow things down. I hope Councilmembers Kabir and Mitchell will take these suggestions seriously, and hopefully we’ll start seeing some progress on this in a near-future Council work session.

  4. By Fazlul Kabir, May 23, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

    Hi Matt, Thanks for your comments. Our staff til me that Dom of the ideas David presented are under consideration. I’ve also asked to have a worksession to discuss City’s over technology pls and policies, where we plan to review the entire technology framework and make ut more efficient and cost effective.