The West Virginia state government’s switch to a massive new computer system will face its first major test next week.

State agencies’ financial and purchasing programs will go live on the $110 million computer system July 8 — the third stage of a five-stage implementation plan over two years.

“This is our biggest phase to date,” said Traci Phillips, communication director for the project. “This is all of our budget, our accounts payable, our fixed assets, inventory, purchasing, contracts and grants. It’s a big list.”

CGI Group, the Canadian contractor designing the computer system that will manage all West Virginia state government accounts, is the same company that rolled out the problem-plagued federal health insurance exchange website last year. The website faced numerous technical problems that prevented people from signing up for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

State officials aren’t expecting problems of that magnitude next week, though they’re prepared for glitches. A separate division of CGI handled the ACA website project.

“Everyone feels confident about the go-live date,” Phillips said. “As we’re training our employees to learn a new system, and with everything going live, we just want everyone to expect a little, just a minute, decrease in productivity until everybody is acclimated to the system. Everybody is still learning.”

The state government computer system, which will allow state agencies to share financial information, data and a host of records, is expected to be fully up and running in July 2015. The state Department of Transportation started using part of the computer system last January.

State agencies now operate 100 separate accounting and management programs. The CGI-developed system will replace most of those. The company has a 10-year contract for the project — commonly known as “wvOASIS” and “Enterprise Resource Planning.”

“Right now it’s a system of modules,” Phillips said. “We’re putting all state agencies under one big system. Things have gone pretty smoothly so far.”

Starting next week, state employee’s purchasing card, or “P-card,” transactions will be processed through the new computer system. Also, businesses and individuals submitting bids for state contracts must do so using the new computer system and a new “vendor self-service portal.” Vendors will be able to turn in electronic invoices for the first time.

In January, all state employee payroll and human resources information will switch over to the new system. State employees will receive paychecks 26 times a year, instead of 24 pay periods.

On July 15, 2015, the state transportation department will move its remaining divisions, including real estate and facilities, to the system — the project’s final phase.

State Purchasing Division employees were receiving training at West Virginia State University on Tuesday.

©2014 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)