Switching to new municipal software can feel like a daunting task. From gaining buy-in from leadership to lengthy implementation timelines, it often feels like a steep mountain to climb to relieve your daily headaches. Lucky for you, we put together a few best practices to make the transition process a little easier. You also get the chance to hear from Cassandra Ott, the Finance Officer from Keystone, as she shares what the transition process is like for someone who recently switched to new software.
Switching to new municipal software has the potential to create friction that can slow down or halt the process, leading to frustration and extending the time it takes to reap the benefits of making the move. To reduce potential friction, you need to determine:
Best Practice #1: Minimize Friction
- Internal priorities for you and your staff
- External priorities for your citizens
- What you are looking for in new software and in a software partner
Cassandra and her coworkers experienced several legacy problems with their previous software. They had to use Excel spreadsheets to continuously validate the data in their previous software, and upgrades by their previous provider made the software more difficult to use.
When they decided to make the switch, Cassandra first determined her desired priorities. For staff, she was looking for more user-friendly software that was more intuitive when it came to training and daily use. With an older population, she was also looking for easier ways for residents to pay their bills and receive information from their local government.
Best Practice #2: Gain Internal Buy-In
When it comes to gaining internal buy-in, the key is Change Management. It is easy to say you would like to switch to new software, but how do you make that change happen and communicate the benefits to your staff and community?
First, you must evaluate how much time you spend on manual processes and rework. If applicable, calculate the time you spend reaching out to support or trying to solve problems yourself if support is not available. Providing this information, along with estimated time and cost savings that you should be able to get from your potential new software partner, offers evidence to internal staff and leadership that a switch needs to be made.During this process, you need to:
- Set clear internal expectations
- Involve the right people early and often
- Create internal and external messaging for staff and residents
For Cassandra, internal staff bought in immediately due to ongoing issues with their previous software. When she mentioned the idea to her Board, they were most interested in what other small communities around them used, and if those towns found the software beneficial. After talking with a few cities around them, Cassandra and her Deputy Finance Officer traveled to one of their neighboring cities to see their software in action. By presenting findings from their trip to her Board, Cassandra obtained approval to purchase new software.
Best Practice #3: Increase Your Project Velocity
Once your project is approved, the implementation process begins. This transition can be time-consuming, but there are a few things you can do to speed the process up.
When you move to new software, data delivery to your new software partner is crucial. Start gathering your local government's financial information as early as possible to set your project up for success. Doing so helps the implementation process go smoother without incurring delays down the line due to incomplete data delivery. Another important aspect of your preparation is good communication. Make sure there is good two-way communication throughout the process so both you and your provider are on the same page at all times.
Once Cassandra had approval, she worked with gWorks to complete the implementation process just months after signing on. During implementation, Cassandra worked closely with an onboarding specialist who answered her questions and made sure the software was set up to meet the town's needs. She decided to bring over the prior utility billing data but chose to start fresh with their financials after years of issues with the previous software. Doing so gave her a sense of relief and confidence knowing her numbers would be accurate.
Trust the Process
Making the transition to new municipal software is not always easy, but change is often needed for things to get better. When Cassandra was asked about what she would tell those who are currently struggling with their software or are looking to make a change, here is what she had to say:
“Change is always hard, but would you rather be miserable with software you know or have the chance to stop being miserable with better software? That’s what made our decision so easy.” - Cassandra Ott, Finance Officer, Town of Keystone
If you need help switching to new software, gWorks is here to help you every step of the way. We will work with you to determine the scope of your project, discover your goals and frustrations, show you solutions that can simplify everyday functions, and put together a case for your Board or Council. Get in touch with one of our experts to see how gWorks can help you make a quick and easy transition to software that will make your life easier!