Wisconsin counties share innovative applications
The challenge for city officials in Douglas County, Wis., was to better manage the ever-increasing financial reporting requirements. Their search led them to implement an automation process that streamlined Douglas as well as neighboring county systems into an evolving information management environment with a technical staff supporting hundreds of users.
In 1988, administration personnel moved from a mainframe using in-house software to a more sophisticated system using integrated financial applications. After consulting with the technical staff at J.D. Edwards, Denver, Colo., the Douglas County staff moved to the AS/400, which handles more than 200 users working directly off the system.
The administration staff, which had been doing most procedures manually, now processes customized reports. In the past, only two employees handled order voucher processing for all 35 county departments, resulting in a severe backlog and a low turnover rate.
The accounting staff needed a more efficient system to process vouchers, handle orders and payables promptly and provide a smooth interface from one module to another. With the new system, Douglas County administration has five on-line locations, some as far as 40 miles away.
It can now process large amounts of financial transactions without increasing the staff or compromising accuracy. The system handles all department functions, including financial reporting, payroll interfacing, accounts receivable, accounts payable and general ledger fixed assets. Additionally, the staff has learned how to generate and extract information in fewer steps.
The county also has integrated public works and financial administration and shares new procedures with five neighboring counties that have the same hardware and software systems.
In regular meetings throughout the year, the counties compare notes and exchange procedural models for more efficient task completion. Equipment modules and job costing now replace older highway costing systems.
The public works administration staff now handles projects, equipment maintenance, contract and grant management and contract billing in a step-by-step fashion, starting from the project proposal to estimated financial requirements to completed analysis statements. In the past, each of 35 departments submitted budgets in different formats, making consolidation nearly impossible.
Now for Comprehensive and Popular Annual Financial Reports, administrators can generate supplemental and required details from one source with pre-prepared report formats, and then download the information into PC applications to enhance the presentation.
Administrators can check budgets in real time, and with the advanced detail options in the software, a 25-page summary replaces the earlier 1,000-page budgets.
The new software is formatted to current standards and regulations, so users benefit from working within local and state mandates, industry standards and site-specific models.