Sylogist is excited to announce the launch of SylogistGov in early 2023. The following is an interview with product manager Jim Boyer.
What is going on in the ERP software market for local and municipal governments?
Local governments are faced with several adverse trends including aging physical and IT infrastructure, loss of trust in government institutions, low recruitment and employee retention, a tight labor market, and the inevitable retirement of a generation of government workers. The COVID pandemic weakened many business sectors and therefore harmed the local tax base. Many federal grants that bridged these shortfalls are coming to an end soon.
The technology story is not much better. Ransomware and malware attacks on government agencies grab headlines each week. Some government processes remain obsolete and inefficient yet are frozen by legacy software.
Expectations of citizens have grown because so many people are now digital natives accustomed to web and mobile apps accessible around the clock.
Because of these trends, we see a wave of demand for upgrading from legacy systems to a modern, cloud platform. The people we’re talking to are still on legacy ERP systems, most of them still deployed on premise.
Some customers have become orphaned because of company mergers and discontinuation of products without clear migration paths. There are thousands of customers who still are using products with sunset dates coming up in the next five years.
We have heard that governments are struggling with migrating from legacy applications whose shortcomings have recently became more apparent.
Why have governments kept their software and hardware so long?
Our customers have always had long life cycles for hardware and software. We have helped customers get the most out of their IT investments for over thirty years.
Until recently, local governments preferred computer infrastructure they could see and touch and didn’t feel comfortable with cloud computing. Now customers realize that these on prem systems are very difficult to enhance and that they need something more flexible in the cloud, something more agile and citizen-focused.
Vendors like Microsoft had to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to create secure clouds and computing clouds dedicated exclusively to government with even higher security standards than the commercial cloud to earn trust.
How did the global pandemic change things?
During the recent pandemic we entered a world where you need to have access anywhere, anytime and also need to improve your outreach and ease of use with citizens. Government employees were not accustomed to working from home, and remote work initially strained infrastructure and user training. To provide access outside of the office, a lot of municipalities have gone to a hybrid mode of people working both within the office and at home.
The pandemic had citizens clamoring for online electronic access to services when in-person contact was not safe. And today city and town councils are demanding more efficient workflows and better outreach to citizens.
Software projects were delayed in the last three years because people were just dealing with the issues of the pandemic. As we return to a new normal, now is the time for governments to be able to focus on migrating to a modern platform.
Why don’t standard accounting products meet the needs of government?
You can't go to an accounting vendor, whether an enterprise vendor like Oracle or a small business vendor like QuickBooks, and expect them to give you the line of business solutions that you need to run your government. In addition to standard accounting modules such as general ledger, receivables, payables and human resources, governments need to track revenue generating functions such as property tax and permitting as well as services delivered whether it’s snow removal, utilities or human services. You need a software vendor with subject matter expertise in government rather than just a broad solution that suits all industries.
How do cybersecurity threats affect local government?
Threats are evolving too quickly for government to keep pace. I've said this many times -- you can't afford the IT department to provide the same level of cyber security and protection that you can get in the Microsoft Azure cloud.
Insurance costs for cyber security have skyrocketed and this one of the first questions customers ask about. “Hey, does this new thing do two factor authentication because they actually have that now in our insurance policy?” Yes, we offer multi-factor authentication.
What is your product design philosophy?
We took all those years of experience building solutions for our government customers together with feedback we received from our customers, and have created a new release based on Microsoft Dynamics Business Central together with a full suite of revenue, licensing and asset management modules.
In addition to security and availability, we have focused on ease of use. SylogistGov is designed to provide full functionality, configurable workflows and an intuitive user experience. We added innovative and industry leading functions and features to the proven baseline of functional requirements that our solution fulfills.
One of the reasons government software has to be more intuitive and easier to use because they're facing turnover, they're facing retirements. Our customers need to get people up to speed so they need to have access to online tools to help them through training processes. And we bring all that to bear.
I can put what I want on my profile. I can change my landing page depending on my job function. I can have at my fingertips all the things that I need without searching through a hundred pages of stuff.
What is the technology platform for SylogistGov?
We chose Microsoft Azure as the cloud provider and Dynamics 365 Business Central for the financial modules. Microsoft is a leader in cloud computing for government, and Business Central is the sweet spot in terms of cost and complexity for our customer segment.
What does SylogistGov include?
Sylogist has worked with municipal government for over thirty years, so we know the requirements of our customers. We actively solicit feedback and suggestions through our Voice of the Customer program.
We are now providing a modern web-based, cloud solution available on any platform, any device with close to 30 different modules spanning the entire operations of a municipal organization or local government. SylogistGov also helps manage your infrastructure for financial sustainability through our asset management capabilities.
In addition to the functional modules, we bring a full suite of complementary capabilities including advanced analytics, decision support and budgeting.
How is your solution priced?
Well, we not only built and designed for small to medium size governments, but our pricing model is also designed for small and medium size. Our goal is to be affordable to the largest number of communities.
We believe we're the best value in the market for a full ERP solution. But more importantly, we're affordable.
Learn more at https://www.sylogist.com/gov