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THE NEWS INFORMATION FOR THE PUBLIC SECTOR
Olmsted County, Minnesota – What's new?
“CGI’s Automated Testing Services saved us weeks of time on our upgrade.”
- Dawn Krucker, Olmsted County, MN
A client since 1983, Olmsted County, Minnesota upgraded to the web-based AMS Advantage Financial Management solution in January 2004, followed by Human Resource Management and Payroll in April 2005 and Performance Budgeting in July 2005.
With the upgrade to modern technology, the County achieved a number of benefits, including:
- Decreased hardware and support costs by significantly reducing reliance on mainframe based hardware and thick clients.
- Increased flexibility and functionality for a greater level of control through configuration, not customization.
- Increased reporting and data analysis by combining numerous existing reports, as well as easing report distribution and timeliness through real-time report generation on an as needed basis by end users.
- Improved data entry through new functionality such as Copy Forward, which automatically transfers like data throughout an accounting event.
- Streamlined the budgeting process by reducing redundant data entry and reconciliation, and automating New Year budget creation and salary and benefits calculations.
Today the County uses AMS Advantage ERP to manage their annual budget. One way the County is keeping pace with ongoing change, is connecting with the AMS Advantage client community through the Discussion Gateway. We had an opportunity to speak with Dawn Krucker, HR Info Analyst for the County, about her latest post and what the County is working on now.
What was the County looking to accomplish when you posted the “Locking Down HRM systems while running payroll jobs” thread to the Discussion Gateway?
Our internal and state auditors were questioning the timeframe between checking our last edit reports before running GTN and when GTN actually runs. Basically, there are users with certain security roles who could make changes that would impact the upcoming payroll and no one would be the wiser.
We were interested in learning how other sites address this issue – what do they do to lock down or keep users out of AMS Advantage Human Resource Management and Payroll during this period while they are running payroll jobs?
You received a number of responses. How did they help?
We received a number of responses from across the AMS Advantage client community, including Baltimore County, Maryland, City of Anaheim, California and State of Wyoming. We determined that shutting down the VLS was the best way to proceed.
How did that work?
Jeffery Walter, Senior Programmer/Analyst for the County created batch scripts to stop and start the WebSphere services for the HR production applications. The scripts Jeff created are part of the backup processes using Olmsted County’s job scheduler tool Active Batch. As soon as payroll is ready to be processed, the stop scripts are run before the Gross-to-Net backup. The start scripts are included with the backup after Finalization is complete. The pay cycle processing jobs are run by payroll staff with access to the Job Manager application.
How did it affect the users?
Thus far, we have received a little feedback, but not much. Users are learning how to secure the information they need during that time in different ways, for example in a report or from one of our test regions. When users try to log on, they are told the server is down. Of course, if it is an emergency, they can contact the payroll department.
We are still in the early stages of figuring out whether to keep shutting down the system for the entire payroll run or to lighten it up somewhat – perhaps opening it back up after gross to net. But for now, we are addressing the internal and state auditors concerns.
How long does it take to run payroll?
About five hours – we start on Thursday and finish off on Friday morning.
What is the County working on now?
We are in the middle of the upgrade to Release 220.127.116.11 from 18.104.22.168. We have gone over a few of the new enhancements in order to define what we want to take advantage of first. For example, the new user interface is really easy, and we know our users will appreciate it. We have customizations to the user interface from the previous release that we may be able to eliminate with the new user interface configurability.
I understand you took advantage of Automated Testing Services (ATS) as part of your upgrade?
We were confident that ATS would be a great advantage, especially from the technical side of things. It forced us to get our scripts and business scenarios in order and also to review our customizations, batch processes, forms, interfaces, etc. County staff that are responsible for the upgrade also have their “normal” duties they still need to perform, so the time savings of finding and identifying issues using ATS was a big benefit for both the functional and technical users.
CGI then put all of this into their copy of our upgraded 22.214.171.124 environment, including our source code. When ATS was completed, the install was quickly done at Olmsted and it was one of the quickest installs done. What normally takes about three weeks, took Olmsted only one week. There weren’t any errors on the install scripts or the database upgrade scripts.
The final ATS report repaired 15 incidents that, had we taken the straight release and done our own testing, we would have had to patch. CGI did that work, which saved us weeks of time.
ATS definitely saved the County money and put us in the best shape ever for testing on our end. Now we can focus on testing our issues – firewalls and things that relate to the technical environment here at the County.
Will you continue to use the Discussion Gateway?
Absolutely – not that we aren’t a creative bunch, but the Discussion Gateway is great for learning what innovative ways other clients are using AMS Advantage ERP. If there is an answer out there, everyone is helpful, offering their best practices and ideas.
It is also a great way to keep pace with Focus Groups. We currently have staff in the Worker’s Compensation Focus Group and Discussion Gateway allows everyone to see their progress.
Have a question for Dawn Krucker? Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in Automated Testing Services? Please contact Brent Blackmon at email@example.com for more information.
Learn more about the AMS Advantage solution at CGI Forum 2011 Online:
- 1404: Introduction to AMS Advantage Technology
- 2402: Management of Family and Medical Leave Act
- 3201: Work Smarter not Harder with AMS Advantage Procurement
- 3403: Salary Projections beyond the budget