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City sets June date for billing conversion

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, September 24, 2018

Elizabeth City officials have set a date for switching the city’s thousands of utility customers to a new billing system. 

City Manager Rich Olson reported Friday that June 10, 2019 is the planned “go-live date” for the new Tyler Technologies billing system. He made the announcement following a meeting with Tyler officials.

City Council approved hiring Tyler in June to replace the city’s Logics Classic billing system, making it the second firm the city has contracted with to attempt an upgrade from the decades-old platform. The prior conversion from Logics to Edmunds failed over late 2016 and early 2017, causing billing delays and widespread frustration for customers.

The city’s agreement with Tyler pays the Plano, Texas-based firm $408,000 over three years to make the conversion.

Olson said city officials had hoped to begin a data extraction process with Tyler already, but delayed doing so because of Hurricane Florence preparations. Through the data extraction, the city will provide its billing and customer data to Tyler to verify all the data uploads correctly into Tyler’s system. It will also allow Tyler to perform simulations of calculating customers’ bills, simulations that will be compared to actual bills calculated in Logics.

The city and Tyler will perform the simulations until they’re confident Tyler’s software can take over the city’s billing, a process that could go on a few months, Olson said.

Olson also said the city has hired a third-party consultant to help with data conversion, though he could not immediately recall the consultant’s name and place of business. He said the consultant will be paid $100 to convert Logics’ old data to a new format for Tyler’s system, but that data conversion should take maybe 20 hours, adding that’s less than first expected.

When Olson updated council on Tyler in July, he also said city staff would select a “project champion” to spearhead the conversion. The city still hasn’t chosen that person, but he said he and department heads continue meeting regularly to plan the conversion.

Olson also reported a Tyler employee has started working with the city’s data processing staff to start a “business process review.” The review could determine what training city staff will need to use Tyler’s software, and if that software will require they work differently.

Over the months that city officials spent considering new billing platforms, Olson described Tyler as his second choice, behind a costlier package offered by the Northstar company. Olson said Friday that, while he believed Northstar’s proposal offered a better product and a better chance of a successful conversion, he never lacked confidence in Tyler. The company has been good to work with so far and he knows other cities where its software has worked well, he said.

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