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Arapahoe County, Colo., Opts for New ERP System, Efficiencies

The county recently migrated nearly 20 years worth of financial data into a new ERP system, a move officials hope will ensure improved efficiency across financial operations for years to come.

Lines of code in blue.
Arapahoe County, Colo., has migrated to a new ERP system to modernize its IT infrastructure and improve budgeting and financial processes.

The county is just one of many government organizations that has made the decision to modernize this type of system in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic helped to accelerate ERP upgrades for many in the public sector faced with tighter budgets and new workforce realities.

Although negotiations and the RFP review process for a transition to a new system began in January 2020, according to Jonathan Rajewich, SAP business operations manager for the county, the official migration process to SAP’s S/4HANA ERP system started in September 2020. The project was completed March 15, 2021.

The main purpose of the system upgrade was to ensure that the county could continue operating efficiently, Rajewich said, adding that the updated system will enable better analytics and data-driven decisions.

Rajewich elaborated on these analytical capabilities with an example of the ability to pull up budget reports and KPIs on a tablet during a meeting, or being able to pull up property tax data and compare it to the previous year, or even the previous five years.

He said that having that information in real time can help provide greater visibility into where the county is and what its needs and abilities are.

Arapahoe County is one of the first in the public sector to use the SAP S/4HANA system, Rajewich said.

Brian Roach, managing director of regulated industries at SAP, explained that the new ERP system is unique in that it is designed to accommodate and scale to the increased data demands organizations have today — from payroll to supplier resource management to accounts payable and beyond.

In addition, the platform uses built-in artificial intelligence technology to enhance operations.

All told, the migration involved exporting 18 years of financial history data from the existing system into the new one, Rajewich said, adding that the process was more involved than a system upgrade but less complex than starting from scratch. Having a “road map,” as he called the longstanding plan to make the move, helped the county to overcome roadblocks and complete the migration in a timely manner.

Arapahoe County had been using SAP’s financial software for nearly 20 years; when the company announced that the software version the county was using at the time would be reaching its end of life in 2025, Rajewich said the county was already looking to the new version.

Knowing the county did not want to attempt a major migration project right at the previous system’s end of life, the IT team developed a road map to guide the migration.

The change management process entailed minimizing the amount of change introduced at once in terms of day-to-day operations for county employees, Rajewich detailed.

“The more change introduced, the more testing and training and resistance you have to go through to really get onto the platform,” he said. “So our approach was: Let’s get to the platform and then we’re going to roll out new enhancements on a regular basis — as we have time to develop them, study them so we understand how to use them, build the training materials, and roll them out and make them available to employees.”
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.