In less than two months, Redmond will be the first city in the world to adopt a new Microsoft software program that will allow employees to do their work more accurately and efficiently.
Microsoft Dynamics 2012 AX for Public Sector, the result of a two-year partnership among the city, Microsoft Corporation and Tyler Technologies, is scheduled to go live July 5. The application is tailored specifically for government, education, health care and other public sector entities. Redmond Mayor John Marchione said the city will be using it for accounting, payroll, expenses and purchasing purposes.
Development for the financing software was a very involved process for all parties. The two companies designed the programs and city employees provided feedback along the way.
On Thursday, a kickoff event was held at City Hall to give city employees a first look at the technology they had a hand in shaping and will begin using in the next few months. Marchione, who spoke at the event, said Dynamics will bring the city’s current, circa-1999 technology into the future.
“You’ve been a key part of that,” he told the city employees who packed the Council chambers.
Marchione added that he wanted to partner with Microsoft specifically because the company is right in the city’s “own backyard.”
For Gail Thomas, who is responsible for the Microsoft team that services government entities in the country, the last two years have been a “true collaboration” to design a technology that was “built from the ground up.”
Tyler president and chief technology officer Jeff Green added that the unique partnership formed during this development process was a matter of fortunate timing.
“We all just came together right at the right time,” he said.
Microsoft wanted to develop a version of Dynamics — which Marchione said has been around for years but more geared toward businesses — specifically for the public sector. And Marchione was looking to update the technology within the city.
Tyler, which is based in Dallas but has an office in Renton, is the largest company in the United States that focuses exclusively on information technology services for the public sector. In addition to software development, Green said Tyler will also be tasked with implementing Dynamics at the city.
Thomas said the Dynamics offers applications with capabilities such as grant management and budget control that government entities would especially need.
She added that the product will provide simple but powerful tools for employees to use and because most people working in finance already use Microsoft Excel, the new technology will have a familiar interface that will ease the transition.
While Redmond will begin using Dynamics in July, it won’t hit store shelves until August.
Mike Bailey, finance director for City of Redmond, has been involved with Dynamics’ development from the beginning. He said throughout the process, city employees would go to the Microsoft campus to work with software engineers and were heavily involved in designing Dynamics.
“(Microsoft and Tyler have) been very responsive,” he said about the tech companies listening to city employee input. “I’m very pleased we picked great partners.”
One of the things Bailey is looking forward to once they start using Dynamics is a universal computer system that will connect city departments.
For example, if he wanted to check whether another department’s projects are on budget, he would have to go to that department and ask them in person. With Dynamics, Bailey would be able to just go into the application and type in the specifics of his search. The results would be accurate information because once someone enters information in one department, it is updated system wide.
Bailey said the city is paying $150,000 for the upgrade, whereas full price for the software and implementation for an organization of this size would be between $5 million and $10 million. Although this is a discount at least 97 percent, the time city employees have committed during the last two years has been priceless, he said.
Not only will Dynamics help Redmond operate more efficiently, but other cities and public sectors entities as well once it becomes available.