City tackles disparate systems

When the City of Ottawa was faced with merging 12 local municipalities into one amalgamated city, the challenge seemed extreme.

Greg Geddes, director of IT services and CIO for the City of Ottawa, said the process required amalgamating separate payroll and human resources systems.

The amalgamation process started with 16 pay systems in 2000. Some were merged immediately, but the city was forced to live with eight or nine different payroll systems for two-and-a-half years.

Because Ottawa’s largest municipality was already using Cognos products, Geddes and his team opted to stick with the Ottawa-based vendor for the amalgamation of payroll and human resources systems throughout the new large municipality.

According to Geddes, the biggest challenge with the implementation concerned the quality of the information that was in the previous systems.

“There was a lot of frustration in terms of the accuracy of the data, not in the technology that goes into forming the cubes – that part’s pretty straightforward,” he said.

Besides payroll, the City of Ottawa has used Cognos to consolidate telephone and e-mail directories.