(TNS) — CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County's long-delayed Enterprise Resource Planning system, which will tie together all county government computers and IT systems, is at a "tipping point" that could lead to more delays and cost overruns, a consultant told County Council Thursday.
The $25 million project desperately needs a manager to oversee and coordinate the implementation of the system's master plan, consultant Zig Berzins said. And the county needs to dedicate more employees to help implement the system in their departments.
"I think we are getting close to the tipping point in regard to project and staffing needs," he said.
Lines of management and control over the project continue to be 'fuzzy,' leading to miscommunication and incomplete or misleading information on the status and pace of the phases of the project, his report to council said.
"There should be a project management office with weekly meetings," he said.
Council recently hired Berzins' company, ZCo Consulting, for "independent verification and validation services" in connection with the ERP because members felt they weren't getting adequate information from county administrators overseeing the project.
The county has been working to establish the ERP system for years, but the implementation has stumbled in recent months because no one is leading the project.
Chief Information Technology Officer Scot Rourke was placed on leave in February after he was named in a subpoena from public-corruption investigations.
Cindy Nappi, who was hired almost two years ago to oversee implementation of the ERP was transferred in March to a job directing the county's human resource information systems.
The county is close to signing a contract with a project director who will focus entirely on leading and guiding the project through to its conclusion, Berzin's report said.
After Rourke was placed on leave, Budish asked three members of a committee that had been overseeing the project, Chief of Staff Earl Leiken, Fiscal Officer Dennis Kennedy and Chief Economic Growth and Opportunity Officer Matt Carroll, to move the ERP project forward.
Three small departments, sanitary dispatch, GIS and the print shop, were the first to go online and began using the system on March 19.
But the fiscal, budget and procurement departments, which were supposed to go online June 7, are now delayed until Sept. 3, Kennedy told council members in March. And others may be delayed in the future.
Berzins has been attending ERP meetings and evaluating the progress. He gave his first report to council on Thursday.
He told council that any more delays will lead to an increase in the contract with Infor Public Sector, Inc., which deals with software licenses, maintenance and support for ERP software.
See his report below or click here if on a mobile device.
Here are some highlights:
--While the initial rollouts have been successful, they involve small departments. Seven rollouts are scheduled for September and seven for December. "Many of the rollouts are virtually on top of each other, adding complexity to scheduling and placing increased pressure on people learning the system while having to continue to work," the report said.
--Infor has not provided training in several areas, including budget preparation and expense management, because of a discrepancy in what it believed it was expected to do. Discussions are continuing and Infor estimates "the extent of a change order that will be significant (near 7 digits)."
--It is difficult to determine what phases of the project are complete for departments because there is no information on tasks and schedules. All county tasks should be included and updated weekly.
--Teams working on ERP projects are not working with each other.
--The total amount spent thus far is below what should have been spent, which indicates the pace is lagging. Spending has to be more clearly shown.
--The IT department is "woefully short of resources" to complete the responsibilities of supporting the ERP system over the coming months.
--Rather than trying to find full-time IT employees, which has been difficult, the county should consider contracting with firms that can provide help.
--ERP is a business project, not a technology project. The project leader should not report to IT but to the business side of the county.
©2018 Advance Ohio Media, (Cleveland, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.