Software for Hard Decisions

Software for Hard Decisions

by / September 30, 1999
Devolution of federal programs brought America's local
governments additional responsibilities. Welfare reform, telecommunications reform and other measures have focused attention on cities, counties and towns as never before. In addition, the Internet has increased the demand by citizens for better access and faster service.

If local governments are to continue as the most trusted level of government, they may need some assistance, some new tools and some rethinking of long-entrenched methods to manage the heavy lifting.

Following are products that may be of assistance to local governments as they confront the challenges of a new era.

Justice is Served

The Wyoming County and Prosecuting Attorney's Association is using JustWare as its case-management software in 23 county and state prosecution agencies. JustWare was developed by New Dawn Technologies Inc. in conjunction with the association, with funding provided by the Violence Against Women Act.

Besides tracking domestic-violence cases and victim/witness notification, JustWare tracks all pertinent name and case information associated with individuals who are being criminally prosecuted or defended. Complex legal documents can automatically be prepared, printed, tracked and organized from within JustWare, which also includes a report writer to accommodate the custom reporting and statistical information that may be specialized to each agency.

JustWare is used throughout the state, and some offices are using the product over a wide area network. Other agencies are scheduled for installation within the next several months.

According to Tom Higtins, president of New Dawn Technologies, the product is targeted for both small and large local governments. "We use both Microsoft SQL server as well as Microsoft Access. Access will address the very small offices and SQL server can scale up to bigger agencies such as Denver-size and New York-size agencies."

The software requires a 32-bit Windows operating system (NT or 95/98). It costs about $1,800 per client license.

Additional information is available by contacting New Dawn Technologies Inc. at 877/587-8927.

A Waste of Planning

SWPlan is a software program for the modeling and analysis of solid-waste management scenarios in metropolitan and urban areas. It allows users to design an integrated solid-waste management system, evaluate an existing system, prepare or compare vendor proposals, determine where waste should be best allocated and simulate a variety of management scenarios.

SWPlan handles the entire solid-waste flow from generator to final disposition in an intuitive format, which can address waste reduction, recycling (19 commodities), yard-waste composting, etc. It also will determine capital and operating costs, debit service and transportation costs, and consider revenues from, recyclable, electric and steam sales.

According to Susan Hardy of Scientific Software Group, "SWPlan is targeted for small- to medium-size agencies. It's very easy to use and can be deployed in minutes."

It requires a Windows operating system and costs about $475 per license.

Additional information is available by contacting Scientific Software Group, at 703/620-9214.

Digital Procurement

Web Buyer is an integrated, business-to-business electronic-purchasing application that gives any enterprise the capability to buy goods and services electronically. The program allows users to electronically solicit, receive and evaluate competitive bids and place orders with thousands of suppliers. The application manages all the translation and transport of information between the buyer and seller and supports all forms of electronic transport.

It provides centralized management of a distributed procurement process and streamlines the workflow of a buying organization by linking requestors, approvers, buyers and sellers.

Web Buyer formats and transmits procurement data throughout the supply chain via any electronic medium. It also interfaces with established legacy applications as an enhanced, functional extension of those existing systems to improve and refine related work processes. As a result, the Web Buyer system enables procurement data with disparate systems and facilitates business-to-business electronic communication.

According to Walter Gold of Waltrip & Associates, "Agencies that are using paper-based systems will be helped immensely and will reduce procurement labor costs by 50 percent and overall cost of material being purchased between 10 to 20 percent."

It is intended for organizations with the purchasing budgets from $30 million and up. It costs about $55,000.

For additional information contact Waltrip & Associates Inc. at 800/95EC-EDI.

Information Management from
the Desktop to the Web

FileMaker Pro 4.1 for Windows and Mac OS is a desktop database application that allows users in the workgroup to track, manage and analyze business information. Built-in Internet/intranet capabilities let users easily publish live databases to the Web with just a few mouse clicks.

Users can easily import data into a pre-existing FileMaker database or create a completely new FileMaker Pro database directly from such data sources as Oracle 7, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access 97 or Microsoft Excel. Once a SQL statement is executed within FileMaker Pro 4.1, an entire database, complete with data and fields, is created automatically.

With a built-in intuitive SQL Query Dialog, the new version lets users query data sources without requiring SQL programming expertise. Users can easily query, generate reports and analyze data all within the same FileMaker Pro database environment.

It costs about $199.

Additional information is available by contacting FileMaker Inc. at 800/325-2747.

A Flood of Information

ESRI's ArcView GIS software played a vital role in flood preparation, mitigation and evacuation in the 1997 Manitoba Flood in Canada.

The software helped expedite emergency calls during the flood. It also assisted long-term damage assessment, rehabilitation and flood-prevention planning.

With data from a variety of sources, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) used ArcView to let rescuers create and manage information about water levels, the location of roads, homes and people and about the location and type of livestock and crops. ArcView then displayed this information in the fastest and easiest way to understand it -- as a map.

Emergency teams pinpointed the locations of properties, residences, roads and other landmarks. PFRA GIS experts assisted in developing the Manitoba flood-related database that included names, land locations, phone numbers and types of livestock. ArcView integrated the data from the various sources -- which varied in formats, projections, scales and precision -- into a single working environment.

Additional information is available by contacting ESRI Canada at 416/441-6035.

Property Operations Management System

Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is using a property-operations-management system to facilitate the management and care of its public facilities and other fixed assets. Cape Elizabeth, a 16 square-mile community with a population of 9,000, has $52 million worth of public property. Like other New England towns, Cape Elizabeth has been evaluating the benefits of consolidating town and school functions to reduce costs.

IPM System Version 3.3 enables government, education, corporate and healthcare institutions to effectively control, maintain and preserve assets by automating processes and managing facilities-related information.

A module dedicated to formalizing the condition-assessment process accurately supports the prioritization of life, health and safety concerns and helps generate substantiated capital improvement plans. The expense of periodic facility audits is also reduced through this process, which monitors building and asset conditions.

The work-order-management module utilizes data from the facility and asset inventory to enhance the generation of bid requests, work orders and preventive maintenance schedules. This updated, highly maintainable module tracks expenses in detail. Version 3.3 also incorporates new client-requested fields, additional predefined reports, lease and warranty management, expanded utility and security offerings, and improved performance across
all modules.

As the only fully integrated property-operations-management system, the IPM system provides facility and fixed-asset management, facility audits and condition assessments, capital planning and budgeting, planned preventive maintenance, bidding and work-order management, resource management, and occupancy and space management

It requires Microsoft Windows running on a 486 or better.

The price starts at $3,500.

Additional information is available by contacting HCI Systems at 800/750-4424.

Fleet Management Software

RTA Fleet Management software tracks all fleet-management process. It determines which vehicles are cost-effective, which have the best repair record, and lowest cost of vehicle maintenance.

It contains the following modules:

? Vehicle Module -- Purchasing, costing, OEM warranty, vehicle history and current status, maintenance scheduling;

? Work Orders -- Scheduling tracking, productivity, repair history, prebuilt or batch entry, works hand in hand with parts inventory and vehicle history;

? Parts -- Bar-coding, purchasing, warranty, costing, automatic inventory deduction from work orders;

? Fueling -- Inventory, cost, accounting, fuel-tax calculation, works hand in hand with vehicle inventory; and

? Tires -- Inventory, costing, performance, cost-per-mile and replacement projection reports.

Green River, Wyo., and Burlington, Vt., are among those using the product.RTA's Jan Smith said the program "is very user-friendly. It's all point and click features and graphical user interface. The character-based [version] for DOS and UNIX have pull-down menus."

RTA Fleet Management runs on any standard Windows, UNIX or DOS machine. Pricing begins at $1,999.

Additional information is available by contacting RTA Inc. at 800/279-0549.

Mile-High and ERP-Bound

Over the next two years, Denver will completely replace its outdated administrative systems and methodologies with an integrated financial/personnel management system from PeopleSoft.

By project's end, everything from how employees are administered and paid, to how budgets are formulated and managed and how vendors are compensated will become part of a single extensive system.

"For more than 20 years, our financial and human-resources systems were separate. In addition, within these two distinct systems were many individual subsystems that many of our agencies customized to meet their specific needs," said Les Berry, Denver's deputy auditor and project director. Using so many disparate and nonintegrated processes and systems was limiting and cumbersome, he added.

PeopleSoft's modules are in human resources, payroll, benefits administration, project accounting, purchasing, accounts payable and receivable, asset management and inventory.

Additional information is available by contacting Les Berry at 303/640-8963.

Payroll on the Web

Federal Liaison Services' (FLS) Web-based payroll-tax compliance system, Employer's Direct Pay.COMpliance (EDP.COM), is a browser-based application for the tax-reporting market. The software allows businesses to comply with the thousands of payroll-tax regulations imposed by more than 100 federal and state, and nearly 7,000 local government agencies.

The software automates the tasks associated with payroll-tax compliance and includes features to handle federal, state and local tax-deposit calendars, cash management, electronic tax payments and multiple reporting sites.

Additional information is available by contacting FLS at 972/239-8881.