Hastings Utilities customers eventually will notice changes to the look of their bills and the online payment portal, and the city will save money, thanks to a new utility billing module that will be added to the city of Hastings’ Enterprise Resource Planning solution software.

Members of the Hastings City Council voted 6-0 during their meeting Monday to amend the city’s Enterprise Resource Planning agreement with Tyler Technologies; removing the EnerGov module, which is the development services building permit portion of the ERP project; and adding “cash management” and “utility billing” to the project.

The Council approved an Enterprise Resource Planning agreement with Tyler Technologies on March 12, 2018. The city has been working to implement Enterprise Resource Planning modules since then.

The Tyler Technologies Enterprise Resource Planning solution will provide upgraded financial system software for the city of Hastings and the Utilities Department. In addition, the Enterprise Resource Planning solution will provide a software solution for human resources, payroll, asset management, planning and permitting, incident management, citizen self-service, and a transparency portal where citizens and ratepayers can easily view budget information for both the city of Hastings and the Utilities Department.

Kevin Schawang, director of information technology for the city of Hastings, told the council on Monday the amendment is a recommendation from consulting group Sciens LLC through Sciens’ assessment in October 2019 of the city’s Enterprise Resource Planning system.

On Aug. 12, 2019, the council approved a contract with Sciens for consulting services for Enterprise Resource Planning project implementation management.

“In that assessment, Sciens concluded that the city would be better served replacing the existing North Star utility billing system with the Tyler Technologies utility billing system,” Schawang said. “In doing so, it’ll provide greater efficiencies given the highly integrated nature of the system with the ERP.”

The utility billing software change will occur after the city implements the financial module of the Enterprise Resource Planning solution, which Schawang anticipates will occur in the first quarter of 2021.

Hastings Utilities employees will be using different software to calculate bills and send out billing.

“The bill itself will look different and give the Utilities more flexibility in what they add to the bill,” Schawang said in an interview Tuesday morning. “If they want to add a particular message or do more things with the bill, it gives them more flexibility to do that.”

He said the new system will give bills a “fresher” appearance.

How rates are calculated will not be affected.

In addition, Sciens recommended the city remove the Tyler EnerGov community development module, which is the development services portion of the project. “While it is an important functionality, it’s also a high-cost, low-value item given the lower transaction volume experienced by the city,” Schawang said.

Swapping the modules will result in an overall decrease of the Enterprise Resource Planning contract by $15,182. Schawang said moving to this utility billing module also will decrease the annual software maintenance 75% over the existing utility-billing solution and that software maintenance will include all upgrades.

“Hindsight being 20/20, if we would’ve had the consultants maybe involved earlier it would’ve been a different sort of (request for proposals),” Mayor Corey Stutte said. “This is really the central cog in the entire ERP implementation that we need. Having this in place will help us move forward. It’s nice to see some cost savings.”

The city could still add eventually a development services module to the Enterprise Resource Planning.

Hastings Utilities already allows online utility payments through its Customer Connect portal, which allows HU customers to see their bills online as well as pay bills through a third party.

Online utility payments include a $3.75 surcharge, which is independent of the Enterprise Resource Planning software.

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