Mississippi state government is counting on big returns from a $100-million accounting system that integrates what previously were a handful of different systems used by state agencies, commissions and boards.
Launched Tuesday, the system known as MAGIC, short for Mississippi’s Accountability System for Government Information and Collaboration, required a dozen years of work, including around-the-clock shifts in recent weeks. If all goes as planned in the start up, the MAGIC system designed by SAP Public Sector Software will integrate and manage Mississippi state government’s finance, procurement, fleet management, inventory management, grant management and data warehouse control.
Vendors, contractors and others who have done business with state government since July 1, 2011, have new procedures to meet, advises the state Department of Finance & Administration, the agency implementing MAGIC and training staffers in 120 state agencies, boards and commissions.
First, vendors must complete a registration offered on the vendor page (mmrs.state.ms.us/MAGIC/Vendor_OutreachMAGIC) of the MAGIC website. MAGIC’s home page is mmrs.state.ms.us.
The DFA says it emailed introductory letters to all vendors with an email address on file with the state and will include an explanatory flier in all vendor checks that go out.
Information also went out to the various organizations to include MAGIC information in their newsletters and their websites, the DFA says.
The DFA says that after this week’s launch it will take a phased approach to vendor outreach and conversions/registrations by working with agencies as they solicit bids. The idea, the agency says, is to ensure bidders are registered and have their IDs and passwords.
“Vendors currently active in the legacy system will be converted to MAGIC but will have to take action to complete their registration once MAGIC is implemented to bid on future projects and work,” said Cindy Crocker, MAGIC project director, in a notice to vendors.
Becky Thompson, DFA deputy director over the MAGIC project, said the launch provides a more effective and efficient way for the state to do business and deliver services electronically.
To get to this point, the state had to meet more than 9,000 requirements identified at the outset of the project, Thompson said in an email. “Configuring the system to meet all of these needs was a significant challenge,” she noted.
Another huge challenge, she said, involved converting existing data and collecting new data, previously maintained outside of statewide systems. “Cross-walking data between old and new systems required a deep understanding of both systems to accurately translate and convert the data,” Thompson said.
“Likewise, the integrated nature of MAGIC required that data maintained manually in spreadsheets or other small applications had to be compiled and converted into MAGIC. These activities spanned more than one year and required input from every agency, board, and commission.”
Throughout, attention had to be paid to maintaining consistent communication between “literally thousands of individuals, and preparing everyone for a big change in their every day work environment,” she added.
“This was our greatest challenge. This challenge was met through an extensive change management initiative that spanned the life of the project. Included in our change management program were regular briefings to agency sponsors, newsletter and email communication to end users, and a comprehensive training program that included over 400 classes statewide to train approximately 2,000 state employees that will be using MAGIC.”
MAGIC replaces state financial and personnel/payroll systems that are decades old.
“Plus, MAGIC uses commercial off-the-shelf SAP software that is used by businesses worldwide. One of the best efficiencies is that SAP as the software vendor maintains the core software and keeps it up-to-date for new trends in technology and functionality that should greatly extend the useful life of the system.”
Gone are the multiple statewide and agency systems, Thompson noted. In its place is a single system that automates a wide range of business functionality, she added.
The single system, said DFA Executive Director Kevin Upchurch, greatly improves “our ability to meet long-standing commitments of accountability, transparency and the automation of procurement and business processes that are just not possible with our systems today.”
At the peak of the project’s development, more than 200 independent contractors and state employees worked full time to oversee the development and testing of MAGIC, in addition to the education of instructors who would be used to train state employees, said Sherri Hilton, DFA spokeswoman.
Just last week, thousands of state workers completing their classroom training to learn to navigate MAGIC, she said, and noted the training took place over several floors in the Robert G. Clark building which is awaiting interior renovation.
The job of upgrading Mississippi’s accounting system began in 2006, when Gov. Phil Bryant was state auditor. The next few years focused on planning and design, strategic analysis, software research and execution strategies, Hilton said.
In 2010, the MAGIC project began to take shape with the procurement and purchase of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software developed by SAP Public Sector Software, which a year later won the MAGIC contract to build and install the integrated system.
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