Monday, January 15, 2018

The RFP for the Legacy Replacement Project

On December 28, 2017, NYCERS released the main RFP for the Legacy Replacement Project (LRP). This is three years after the NYCERS IT director proposed this project. The RFP itself is 88 pages long. With its 12 appendices and 13 templates it is at least 600 pages in total. We now know what Gartner was paid over $4M to do since the 2014.

Responses are due on March 12, 2018 and NYCERS plans to award the contract in December, 2018. That is another full year. You can guess what Gartner will be doing in 2018.

I have previously stated that NYCERS needs to implement a standard database platform for all agency applications and decide what hardware structure/s the agency will utilize going forward. The mainframe provides heavy duty processing power and can handle sophisticated database software but most modern software is being written for network structures including mobile access. Existing commercial software supporting the public retirement market is most probably running in a network environment.

On a personnel level NYCERS needs to review the IT management at NYCERS. Based on the major failures with database modernization, imaging/workflow systems, and the disaster recovery site, plus the squandering of staff resources over the last 12 years, the new executive director needs to make some hard decisions. She has already made some moves in that direction but she will have to do more.

What has the current IT division been doing the last 12 years to upgrade the legacy systems? What are the current personnel/fringe costs for the IT staff and what is currently being spent on consultants, equipment, software, and other services?

General Scope

On page 21 of the main RFP is the following paragraph

The proposed solution must support all of NYCERS' pension administration core business process areas and use cases, which are provided in Appendix 2 by leveraging robust business process and workflow management.

Appendix 2 is 240 pages long. I love words like "leveraging" and "robust". You can smell them a mile away.

But seriously, NYCERS is asking the vendor to redo the agency's entire IT applications structure, a massive undertaking. The existing legacy system was built over a 30 year period (1974-2005). Any replacement project will be a long process. A successful process will be made up of many clear short term tasks that build on each other and adapt to inevitable changes. It will be driven by competent in-house staff with the help of equally competent outside partners.

Workflow Software

The following is a quote from page 27 of the RFP under the section labeled "Required Applications" to be used in all proposed application architectures:

NYCEwork (IBM FileNet):

While NYCERS is looking to replace the BPM component of Filenet with the propose solution, the new solution is required to integrate with the content and document images stored in FileNet for the purpose of maintaing a single content storgae.

The selected Respondent will be responsible for identifying, testing and implementing all changes to NYCEwork (IBM FileNet software) required to support the proposed solution. This includes any required upgrades to NYCEwork (IBM FileNet) software necessary to support the proposed solution (must be explained in the proposal if needed)

In 2016 I wrote about the problems with NYCEwork. NYCERS only put NYCEwork into production in 2014 and now they want replace all the developed workflows. From 2008 to 2011, NYCERS paid the project vendor at least $2.2M to install this system. At that point NYCERS cancelled the contract but continued with the project. It is not clear what the costs were from 2011 to 2014. After suing the inital vendor NYCERS was only able to recover $301,000 in FY-2017.

So now the selected legacy vendor will have to redo at least all the workflows that NYCEwork is currently supporting. The vendor will, however, also have to utilize the existing FileNet document repository along with its database access structure. Trust me, this is huge job all by itself.

Customer Realationship Sofware

Just in case you thought this job was not hard enough, there is another little clip on page 27:


The NYCERS CRM solution (under procurement) must be used as the CRM (customer service) platform for the pension administration solution, including all functionality required to be delivered by the CRM as described in Section D.1.

The selected Respondent will be responsible for providing all interfaces necessary to enable the CRM to act as a robust pension administration portal (see Section D.2.4) and closely collaborating with the CRM project team to help ensure clients receive the optimal self-service experience.

NYCERS is currently evaluating the CRM RFP that it issued in October, 2017. NYCERS expects to award this contract on February 1, 2018. Initially, the CRM vendor will have to interface with the current Legacy systems. In turn, the Legacy vendor will have to interface with the new CRM systems. It is very likely that the Legacy vendor will not fully know what the CRM interfaces look like when the Legacy vendor starts doing its work and may not know for quite awhile exactly what that they are.

Why wasn't the main legacy project structure put in place first and then have the CRM project aimed at the new replacement system?

Time To Stop

Of course, the huge time delay for the LRP project is a definite red flag for this entire effort. If NYCERS does not stop and restructure this project, five years from now we will be looking at $100M down a rat hole and no end in sight.

It is ironic that in 2016 I completed a conversion project of a membership system that was running on a mainframe system using flat files. It now runs on a network platform using a commercial software package with a relational database system. It also provides a web interface. The system was analyzed over 10 month period. The vendor was chosen over a six month period. The vendor installed a live replacement system in 14 months for a cost less than 1/10th of what NYCERS has paid Gartner.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Oversight for the Legacy Replacement Project

On December 14, 2017 the Trustees approved the new executive director’s request for four new executive level positions. The first position requested was a chief operations officer (COO) who will be responsible for the following major divisions:

  1. Operations
  2. Service and Disbursements
  3. Client Services.

These positions previously reported to the deputy executive director. That leaves only the following divisions still reporting to the deputy executive director:

  1. Finance
  2. Communications
  3. Administration
  4. Training
  5. Special Projects

It is obvious that the new executive director did not feel that the current deputy executive director, Karen Mazza, was capable of continuing to handle these three operational divisions.

The other three requested positions are all targeted at the Legacy Replacement Project (LRP). They are

  1. Deputy Director - Administration/LRP
  2. Deputy Director - Internal Audit/LRP
  3. Deputy Director – Project Director for the LRP

The deputy director for administration will be responsible for procurement, contract management, and budgeting for the LRP project. The deputy director for internal audit will be responsible for quality control for the LRP project and audit oversight of all IT operations, in particular IT security. The deputy director for the LRP project will be responsible for the LRP project and will report to the executive director and the IT director.

Based on the request for and the approval of these positions, the executive director has determined that there are significant oversight issues with the LRP project. Since the winter of FY-2015 when the former executive director and the IT director introduced this project, it has stumbled along without significant improvements. The consulting firm Gartner Inc., however, has managed to collect almost $4M over the last three years, FY-2015-2017, working on this project.

NYCERS Executive Organization Chart - History

The NYCERS org chart has gotten more complicated since 2004, when I last signed off on the NYCERS org chart, more complicated but not more effective.

As of June 30, 2004:

The direct reports to the executive director were as follows:

  1. Deputy Executive Director
  2. Legal
  3. Human Resources
  4. Internal Audit.

The direct reports to the deputy executive director were as follows:

  1. Finance
  2. Operations
  3. Membership
  4. Benefit Disbursements
  5. Communications & Customer Service
  6. Administrative Services
  7. Information Resource Management
  8. Security

As of June 30, 2017:

The direct reports to the executive director were:

  1. Deputy Executive Director
  2. Legal
  3. Human Resources
  4. Internal Audit
  5. Information Technology (shifted in FY-2007 when Liz Reyes became IT director)
  6. Compliance
  7. Security & Facilities Operations
  8. Business Rules & Data
  9. EEO Officers

The director reports to the deputy executive director were:

  1. Finance
  2. Operations
  3. Service & Disbursements
  4. Communications
  5. Client Services
  6. Administration
  7. Training
  8. Special Projects

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ongoing Costs for the Legacy Replacement Project

Since the winter of 2014-2015 NYCERS has been kicking around the Legacy Replacement Project. Listed below are some of the costs that NYCERS has incurred with this project.

Payments made to Gartner, Inc.

  • FY-2015 -- $ 804,949
  • FY-2016 -- $1,993,492
  • FY-2017 -- $1,120,000

Payments made to CWI Coaching and Consulting (Ellen Carton's old firm)

  • FY-2015 -- $ 99,965
  • FY-2016 -- $139,946
  • FY-2017 -- $157,055

Note: all these costs were incurred before the new executive director came on board in September, 2017.