For most municipalities, the ability to increase productivity while reducing costs is an ongoing challenge. Without the financial freedom to hire additional employees, local governments question how resources can be purposefully allocated to improve operational processes, while making the most of taxpayer dollars.
The implementation of a 21st century ERP solution can be a step in the right direction. There is technology out there that can streamline your job duties and simplify the work of limited staff members. Doing more with less becomes possible, with access to tools designed specifically for achieving productivity gains.
Hamblen County, located about 48 miles northeast of Knoxville, pioneered Skyward’s Municipality Management Suite early in 2015. The county experienced a smooth transition as one of the first municipalities to adopt the ERP solution.
In a timespan of about six months, Hamblen has realized tangible returns on its investment in the solution designed to help municipalities reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies.
"ONE OF THE THINGS WE TRY TO DO, IN MY TIME IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT, IS AUTOMATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE."
The county’s previous ERP software would no longer be supported as of July 1, 2015. Officials knew it was time to do some research and make a decision on a new solution that would meet the county’s operational needs. Hamblen wanted to ensure a continued focus on automating and streamlining business processes.
Mayor Bill Brittain explained how hiring additional employees was costly for the county. Therefore, automation was critical for increasing the productivity level of its operations. “One of the things that we try to do, in my time in county government, is automate as much as possible,” Brittain said.
Hamblen County made the decision to implement Skyward’s Municipality Management Suite. The proven solution would increase productivity, saving the county valuable time and money. “We selected Skyward because of what we see as the benefits from the efficiency,” Brittain said. “It brought us into the 21st century as far as software goes.” Hamblen’s new solution helped to make its day-to-day operations less labor intensive for employees, and the county is getting the data it needs to analyze expenses and operations – all to become more efficient.
The county completed trainings on the new solution, with the support of a Skyward certified trainer, during the initial stages of the implementation process. “Skyward sent a representative to our office to train and assist all staff within their respective areas of responsibility several weeks before we actually transitioned,” explained Michelle Woods, director of finance at Hamblen County. Woods added that once the county’s data was converted, the same Skyward team member came back to Hamblen’s office to provide consistent support for employees. The Skyward representative assisted the county with reconciliation of the converted data, and held additional and follow-up trainings as needed.
“The staff at Skyward were easily reached both via email and telephone, and were able to address any questions or concerns as they arose,” Woods said. “We were also provided with a training database, which enabled us to do parallel payrolls in Skyward training and compare to our old software, which allowed us to catch conversion errors and verify that Skyward was working properly,” she explained.
"FROM A PERSONAL STANDPOINT, THIS WAS ONE OF THE SMOOTHEST TRANSITIONS I HAVE EXPERIENCED."
A smooth transition
Hamblen County and its employees experienced a transition process unlike any other. “From a personal standpoint, this was one of the smoothest transitions I have experienced,” Woods said. She explained that throughout her career, she’d experienced three previous conversions. Woods described how Skyward’s team worked with the county to ensure any issues during the process were resolved in a timely manner. “The staff at Skyward has been great to work with,” she said. “Anytime a problem has arisen they have been available and usually have a quick resolution.”
There were several areas in which the county saw improvement after the implementation of the new solution. Woods stated that the process for inputting beginning budget numbers for the next fiscal year was enhanced by Skyward’s advanced technology. The county also enjoys the flexible security settings available to them. Woods added that the staff appreciates the ability to view a report in PDF format before printing as well as the ability to save in this format. “We have been able to put better internal controls in place,” she said.
Easier access to data
Hamblen employees are pleased with the availability and access to county data that the new solution provides. Woods said that the ability to export lists to Excel, being able to drill down into the data, and the amount of data Skyward is able to track all make a difference and ease the county’s business procedures. “Skyward tracks everything, which is awesome,” Woods said. “The fact that we also have a training database that we can test and train in has proven very valuable.” She added that employees also enjoy the ability to create and sort lists and print reports from the module they are working in, the familiarity of the Windows-style interface, and the ease in which a new window can be opened within the program.
The new ERP solution streamlined county processes, which resulted in time saved during many employees’ day-to-day business processes. Woods believes the biggest increase in time and money saved will be realized with the county’s use of Skyward’s TrueTime attendance tracking system and through the use of online purchase orders. In addition, the nature of Skyward’s online platform will save the county money on licensing fees. “Skyward is web-based and therefore does not have to be installed on every computer, and no additional licenses are required,” Woods said. “This will be a huge savings to the county.”
"THE POSSIBILITIES OF THINGS THAT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED WITHIN THE SOFTWARE SEEM ALMOST LIMITLESS."
Though Hamblen County is new to Skyward, Woods said she is already “very pleased with Skyward and the capabilities it has.” Through a smooth transition, increased efficiencies, easier access to data, and valuable savings, Skyward’s Municipality Management Suite has put Hamblen County on the map as a pioneer of advanced ERP technology.
“I feel as time goes on and new [enhancements] are introduced we will see more and more of an impact concerning efficiencies,” Woods said. “Skyward has great potential in that the possibilities of things that can be accomplished within the software seem almost limitless.” Woods said that from what she has seen from the solution so far, Skyward is a “great product.” She added, “… I would recommend Skyward to other municipalities … I grow to love it more every day.”
Follow-up resource: Municipality Management Suite
To learn more about Skyward's commitment to helping local governments work more efficiently, check out our Municipality Management Suite.