5.†††††††††††††† CONSIDER EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS TO RETAIN PROJECT MANAGEMENT SERVICES FOR WATER DEMAND DIVISION DATABASE PROJECT
Meeting Date:†† ††††††† January 29, 2004††††††††††††††††††† Budgeted:† Yes
Committee Recommendation: The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on January 20, 2004 and recommended approval.
CEQA Compliance:† N/A
SUMMARY:† Staff is requesting Board approval of funds not to exceed $38,000 to contract with PM Connect for project management assistance with the Water Demand Division database project.† Funds for this contract are currently in the fiscal year 2003-2004 budget.† Professional assistance is needed to design, collect, and finalize the specifications for the new database system before a professional computer programmer can be brought onboard to perform the actual encoding.† Improving data management systems within the Water Demand Division has been a top priority of the Board since 2002.† This request furthers achievement of the goal to bring the databases used by the District from multiple antiquated FoxBASE+ databases to a Windows-based, user-friendly format.
PM Connect has prepared a proposal that encompasses development and documentation of the business processes to be supported by the new database; technical specifications, input screens, user interface, forms and reports to be made available in the new system; development of a prototype; and development of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to design, code and test the new system.† A copy of the proposal is attached as Exhibit 5-A.† PM Connect has been working with District staff over the past month to refine the scope of the project and to define the business processes that need to be addressed.† PM Connect has also reviewed the current system from both a user and a technical perspective.
PM Connect was recommended by Microsoft as their Northern California ďgo toĒ Project Management partner for companies of up to 500 employees. Over the years, PM Connect has managed software and technology projects for Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and Chevron as well as many smaller clients.
RECOMMENDATION: ††Staff recommends that the General Manager be authorized to retain PM Connect as the Project Manager to: (a) Define and finalize the user and technical specifications for the new database application to be written, and (b) Write the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) to assist with selection of a firm to build the new database system.†† Funding is currently in the budget for this project.† If approved with the Consent Calendar, the General Manager will enter into contract with PM Connect for a not to exceed amount of $38,000.
BACKGROUND:† The District has a problem:† Itís extremely data rich and analysis poor.†
The databases currently in use by the Water Demand Division were set up in FoxBASE+ (a database program) in the mid-1980s.† Over the years, modifications have been made to the databases as rules change or new information is needed.† Staff presently works with three independent databases:† Conservation, Permits and Rebates.† Data must often be entered into two or more systems.† Another shortcoming is that the programs were not designed to prepare reports containing information that is commonly requested - this is compounded by the fact that data may exist in one but not all of the databases.†
Compilation of the Districtís databases into one comprehensive system will provide opportunities to access and use the vast amounts of data available.† Numerous reports can be generated once the right data is available and when significant information about a property becomes available on the computer in a format that can be easily accessed.† Furthermore, a centralized database will allow public access via the Internet; thereby reducing the amount of time staff must spend responding to telephone calls and walk-in requests for information.† Finally, upgrading the databases into one comprehensive system will provide the opportunity for improvements in the field inspection process. Staff will have the ability to log information in a hand-held computer that can not only print a final report, but that could store the contactís signature on the inspection report.† Staff will also be able to simply download the information directly to the main database by linking the computers, thereby eliminating manual data entry and filing time.
The Water Demand Division is designing a comprehensive Windows-based system that will contain ALL property information in one data file.† This file will contain images of inspection reports, Notices of Non-Compliance and Compliance and other documents recorded by the District, as well as information on all previous changes in title, inspections, water permits issued, well registration and reporting, and any other District-gathered data.† The system will have the ability to produce form letters, enforcement letters and deed restrictions without staff having to manually input the information into a template and will enable staff to fax imaged documents from their computers without having to manually locate the documents.† Electronic filing will substantially improve customer response time.
The District completed a comprehensive review of the hardware and software needs of the Water Demand Division in 2000.† The consultantís recommendation included $180,000 for system improvements (including imaging systems) and programming.† Although staff initially believed resources were available to develop a system in-house, it has become apparent that outsourcing is needed to conduct preliminary program development work and to compile a RFQ prior to contracting the actual programming.† Funds of $150,000 are available in this yearís budget for data management improvements.† The District is currently converting the existing Water Demand Division filing systems to APN (Assessorís Parcel Number)-based files and purchasing a copying system for the Water Demand Division that will enable document imaging.
In May 2003, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) met with the General Manager and Water Demand Manager and came up with a tentative timeline to design, gather information and build a test version of the new system in-house. Since then, staff has been gathering the information necessary to create a prototype of the new database system. As discussed above, it has become apparent that existing staffing resources are restricted by other work demands and that staff is unable to complete the in-house effort to document the specifications of the new system and to prepare a RFQ.† Since PM Connect has been involved with defining the scope of the project and the business processes to be addressed, has reviewed the system from both the user and technical perspectives, and has excellent references to complete this type of work, staff is confident that PM Connect is the appropriate contractor for this project.