By Joe Jackson
It’s again late September and our Aumentum community of government partners has convened for our annual SYNERGY Aumentum User Groups Conference. This year we’re in hot and humid Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a warm soft salty breeze wafting over the conference. Here in our conference hotel, the Westin, it’s as if we’re on a giant ship sailing along with the Atlantic current, similar to the chartered course our Thomson Reuters team has set with our many government customers sailing along a technology journey together.
Partnering and journey: these are the two themes covered today during our opening conference session. We understand very well that a technology implementation requires a strong partnership between the government and a technology solution provider. Additionally, we appreciate that an introduction of a new information system is really about a process and often times represents a cultural shift for our government partners.
In my address this morning, I used the Tarrant Appraisal District as an example of a partnership journey. Tarrant replaced a 30 year old COBOL system with Aumentum Valuation, and for a year have been live. This implementation included transforming their processes and procedures in radical ways. We appreciate that this change was not easy, and also recognize that the journey is far from over.
Tarrant’s go-live is an important moment in not only their journey, but the journey of all of our customers. Using the ship metaphor, this represent a departure from the days of custom-configured applications. I spoke this morning, as I did last year, about our commitment to developing a single source code for the Aumentum technology platform. This effort – to streamline the underlying code base for all of our customers now and into the future – puts us all on a common technology course.
Benefits of a single source code will improve our ability to more quickly and efficiently implement Aumentum for our government partners. Importantly, it will navigate us to a point that allows our system to be even more stable, testable, focused, and manageable for all of our customers. Importantly, it will also mean we can continuously improve technology without having to go through new implementations.
Axel Threlfall, Reuters Editor-at-Large, was with us this morning and led a provocative discussion with Tajel Shah, Deputy Director for the City and County of San Francisco on stage with Dilraj Kahai, Managing Partner for 21 Tech –
a Aumentum Implementation Partner – and our own Sam Wilkins, Vice President for Professional Services. San Francisco had in a year implemented Aumentum to begin to phase out a payroll tax with a new gross business tax.
The crux of the discussion was how to jointly partner to successfully transform and implement a new technical system. Having a colleague in Axel Threlfall who is a journalist is great because he digs rights into the nitty-gritty: prodding and poking on what went well in the implementation; what didn’t go well; how would you recommend your partner change; how could you change. It was a refreshing and honest conversation – something I believe is truly needed in any partnership. Because let’s face it, every partnership, like every journey, will have sunny days but will encounter its own headwinds.
Tajel made a wise comment – a particularly important point, on the use of agile development in an implementation. The discussion had focused on how agile had been applied to incrementally roll out the new system. Such incremental improvements, she said, “Help people find positive change.” This makes perfect sense – it gives people the confidence in a large project that progress is being made and that the journey is worth it.
Okay so enough with these sailing metaphors already. We’re set for the real thing. We are all setting off on a real boat to take in some sun and some fun on the calm Florida waters. At the 2015 SYNERGY Aumentum user conference we both figuratively and quite literally together set sail.