Magazine article Government Finance Review

Managing ERP after Go-Live: Who Owns the System? Oakland County, Michigan, Manages Ongoing ERP System Upkeep and Development through a Collaborative Governance Model

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Managing ERP after Go-Live: Who Owns the System? Oakland County, Michigan, Manages Ongoing ERP System Upkeep and Development through a Collaborative Governance Model

Article excerpt

After an enterprise resource planning computer system goes live, the government must transition from a project mode of operation to ongoing maintenance and support, where members of the project team begin to refocus on their former job duties and a sustainable long-term strategy for maintaining and optimizing the ERP investment is developed. As part of making this transition, many governments struggle with the question of where in the organization to place "ownership" of the system. In other words, who in the organization will decide what system improvements are made, how maintenance issues are prioritized, and how resources will be dedicated to these and other tasks associated with ongoing ERP system upkeep and development. Many governments wonder if the finance department, the IT department, or perhaps another department is best suited to this role. This article describes how Oakland County, Michigan, resolved this issue by forming an intra-organizational network of the most important stakeholders to make joint decisions on the future of the county's ERP system, without sacrificing accountability for results.


Oakland County, Michigan, is located 20 miles north of downtown Detroit and serves a population of about 1.2 million people. In 2007, Oakland County's general fund budget was about $490 million and the total budget for all funds was about $822 million. Oakland County makes extensive use of IT, not only for its own operations but also as the provider of IT services for a number of jurisdictions located within the county's boundaries. Oakland has been recognized for its progressive use of IT and was designated as a top-10 Digital County by the Center for Digital Government.


Oakland County had been using its ERP vendor's human resources and payroll functionality successfully for five years. Based on this experience, it decided to upgrade its HR functionality and implement the vendor's financial and supply chain applications. Oakland took a two-phased approach to this project:

* Phase 1. Human resources upgrade (including some new functionality and self-service applications), time and labor, computer-based training, and user portal.

* Phase 2. Financial management, supply chain management, and budgeting.

Oakland County's approach to ERP project governance was consistent with what is generally recognized as "best practice." The executive committee was composed of department leaders and other executives who were sponsors of the project. The oversight committee was made up of the project's day-today management group and the leaders of each of the teams that were responsible for the ERP functional areas included in the project.


After go-live, Oakland faced the question confronted by others who have implemented ERP: who owns the system? Initially, Oakland designated two formal structures for governing its ERP system: a post-go-live committee and a leadership group. The county is currently considering adding a third structure: a reinstituted executive committee. Each of these structures is described below.

Post Go-Live Committee. After go-live, the most immediate concern facing the county was stabilization of the new ERP system. This involved resolving issues remaining from implementation and addressing new issues raised by the user community after go-live. The post-go-live committee (PGLC) has taken responsibility for this. The PGLC meets on a biweekly basis. Its membership is essentially the same as the oversight committee that existed during implementation, which eased transition between project and post-go-live ERP governance. The PGLC serves as a collection point for issues (through the functional team leaders who interact with their user communities), maintains a record of the issues, prioritizes the issues with a Microsoft Access-based issues log, and manages their resolution. …

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