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Behind the scenes at Metra

Metra upgrades back-office system

(July 10, 2017) - 

     Here’s a story about something Metra is very proud of – our new, fully integrated computer system that replaces a dozen separate, outdated financial systems. This system is, quite literally, bringing Metra’s business functions into the 21st century and it’s long overdue. How old were the old systems? Some we inherited from the old Rock Island Railroad, which went bankrupt before Metra was born more than 30 years ago.

The size, complexity and cost of the undertaking were too much for earlier administrations, but current Metra leadership determined it could be put off no longer. The contract with Crowe Horwath LLP to provide the required system software and a team of technical and functional consultants to install, configure and launch the new system is $12.6 million. Metra invested an additional $6.6 million on IT infrastructure and other related improvements.

Metra’s IT team combined with the consultant’s team invested 68,000 hours of work to date. End users contributed an additional 28,000 hours.

Nearly 300,000 records from the legacy systems – which include general ledger, payables, receivables, contracts, inventory, cash management, grants management, project administration, capital reimbursement, budget, fixed assets and purchasing – were cleaned and converted or manually entered. The team created or reengineered hundreds of processes and procedures covering all areas of Metra’s business. Along the way, the team identified, addressed and resolved more than 1,100 issues.

The new system started operation on June 5, on time and on budget. As noted by a member of our Board of Directors, “It is rare that you have a project of this magnitude, of this nature, that comes in on time and on budget. ...It is really big news”

But we are not yet finished.  The payroll application remains to be migrated to the new system.  Work is already underway, with implementation planned in the middle of next year.  

Metra customers will probably have a hard time getting excited about a system they rarely, if ever, come into contact with. But the new system will pay off in the long run by providing better and more detailed financial and operational information, improving our ability to quickly spot and remedy various issues.

This is a big win for the Metra team and we are very proud of our new system and the people who crafted it.


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