Fort Smith city government is $100,000 under budget on $5 million software system

by Aric Mitchell ( 297 views 

The city of Fort Smith is running approximately $100,000 under budget on implementation of its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that will integrate the city’s operations across all departments.

When the software is fully implemented by the end of 2018, it will offer features like electronic payments, filing of work orders, and property details on each parcel of land throughout the city.

Vendors will be able to tell the city which commodities they sell for easier reference whenever a department needs to make a purchase for that particular product type. They will also be able to submit invoices or requests to be considered as new vendors for city business as well as check on the status of invoices and submit electronic banking information for faster payment.

In the fall of 2017, Fort Smith Finance Director Jennifer Walker said, the city will host a “vendor fair” to help vendors set up on the new system.

“We want to make it as easy as possible. We want them to do a one-time validation and make sure they’re happy with the information the way it is, and we’re also realizing the opportunity to push people toward electronic payment processing,” Walker said.

The estimated $5 million project includes a $1.829 million expense for the software and $199,848 in travel expenses for Salt Lake City, Utah-based Tyler Technologies during the implementation period. Remaining costs are allotted for ongoing maintenance across a five-year period with an ongoing expense of “between $200,000 and $300,000 per year” thereafter, Walker told Talk Business & Politics on Tuesday (Aug. 22). The $200,000-$300,000 expense will replace the approximately $500,000 the city is paying ArcBest annually to handle its resource planning needs.

In previous meetings, it was noted ArcBest did not wish to continue providing the service, thus necessitating a timely ERP implementation. Walker said ArcBest had been “great to work with” in assisting the changeover to Tyler’s system.

“We would not have the project where we have it today without their support. They have been amazing, and typically outgoing vendors are not that amazing,” Walker said.

At Tuesday’s study session, Walker asked the city to consider adding a $35,000 risk management portal to assist with matters like workers’ compensation and OSHA reporting standards. The Board agreed to consider the expense at its Sept. 5 regular meeting in light of savings city personnel picked up through handling some data conversion work in-house and hiring personnel internally for project management instead of going with an outside firm.

“We saved a substantial amount of money by doing that, and I feel like we’ve gotten an excellent amount of value for the money we’re spending,” Walker said, adding the risk management portal was not initially added into ERP costs because “at the time, the city did not have an HR Director” and had not clearly defined its risk management needs.