FAQs | Frequently Asked Questions

Overview

What is the BEST Program?


BEST stands for 'Business Enterprise Systems Transformation' Program, which is a multi-year initiative to support a wide-range of improvements in business operations across all agencies in all branches of state government. The program will replace existing statewide financial and human resources systems with a comprehensive software solution and will bring changes reflecting best practices in operations and management. Enhancements will include improved functionality and usability, increased security, and modern technology. Users of existing systems will participate in the planning, design, and transition to the new system and play a critical role in its success.




What will the Program accomplish?


The Program aims to accomplish the following: Transform business operations by reducing complexity, eliminating unnecessary administrative activities, and expanding self-service; Constantly improve functionality and the user experience for all users by delivering regular upgrades to a single software system; Strengthen and standardize system and data security with a single sign-on; and, improve access to meaningful data for users and the public.




Which systems will change?


Our first objective is to replace two legacy core systems: Massachusetts Management, Accounting and Reporting System (MMARS) and Human Resources/Compensation Management System (HR/CMS).Future initiatives may include improvements in other enterprise administrative systems but these two systems are the core focus at this time.




Why should Commonwealth employees care about this project?


For Commonwealth employees, the current legacy enterprise applications, HR/CMS and MMARS, will be retired and replaced by a new solution. Collecting feedback on current workflows and pain points from users of these two core applications will ensure any future solution(s) will deliver meaningful improvements for over 5000 MMARS and HR/CMS core users, as well as employees using self-service features to record and/or track time and attendance, personal information, compensation and benefits. Transition to the new solution will be supported through our change management team with trainings, resources and other tools.




Why should vendors, partners or the general public care about this project?


For those that collaborate, report, or navigate within current legacy systems, the future solution may introduce new processes or require updated credentials. The Program will share these changes in a timely manner and our team will provide resources to assist with training and awareness. The goal is to improve the efficiency and ease of use for all our partners that have contact with the Commonwealth's financial and HCM/payroll functions.




As an employee of the Commonwealth, how will my job be impacted by this project?


The goal of the BEST Program is to increase efficiency and enhance user experience. The aim is to provide modern solutions that are more accessible, secure and mobile friendly to improve the overall working environment.




Why do we need to replace MMARS and HR/CMS?


The current systems technology is outdated (20+ years old) and highly customized making it difficult and expensive to maintain and support. Additionally, the functionality has not kept pace with new technology or industry best practices. As citizen pressure for a more cost-effective service-oriented state government grows, it is clearly time to rethink our policies, processes, operations and technology foundation for the future.





Representation & Communication

Who is leading this effort?


The BEST Transformation Program is lead by the Executive Sponsors: the Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance; the Comptroller of the Commonwealth; and the Secretary of the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security. The Sponsors are advised by an Executive Steering Committee (ESC) representing key organizations across State government to ensure enterprise-wide views and concerns are addressed. The Program Management Office (PMO) reports to the Executive Sponsors and is co-lead by two Program Managers mutually appointed by the Sponsors, with support from BEST Program Functional Leads.




Who are the BEST Functional Leads within the PMO?


The PMO consists of Functional Leads in the following areas (updated as of Aug 26, 2020): Change Management - Tryntje Bumgardner Communications – Chris Sicuranza Financial Management – Catherine Quan Financial Reporting – Odile Breton, CPA Human Resource Management – Bill Weiss Payroll – Evanice Torres Risk and Compliance – Tatiana Peralta Technology – Chris Guido Reporting to each Functional Lead will be teams of experts in specialized areas who will be assigned to the project, comprised of Commonwealth Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and staff of the software and implementation vendor(s) selected to implement the new solution.




How will Commonwealth users be involved?


The BEST PMO team is available for department outreach meetings to provide Program updates and discuss department concerns and issues. Various collaborative workgroups and advisory committees have been established, with future groups being assembled as needed. Please see the below questions regarding Operations Work Group (OWG), Points of Contacts (POC), Technical Points of Contacts (TPOC) and Technical Advisory Group (TAG) member goals and responsibilities. Inquiries can be submitted through the MABest.org website or e-mailed to Transformation_PMO@mass.gov




Who are the OWG members?


Operation Work Groups, also known as OWGs, include a cross-section of Commonwealth employees selected for representation from Executive Departments, Independent and Constitutional Offices and the Legislature, large and small agencies, 9 to 5 and 24x7, union, non-union and quasi public agencies.




What is the role of Agency Point of Contact (POC)?


Each department has identified a Point of Contact (POC). POCs will assist the Program in keeping Agency Heads and Senior Leadership Teams updated on the status of the program. They will be aware of meetings the program is planning with agency staff and will contact the PMO with any feedback from their Leadership or staff that would help the Program better address agency’s concerns or interests. POCs may also be asked to help coordinate information requested from agencies.




What is the role of the Agency Technical Point of Contact (TPOC)?


Each department has identified a Technical Point of Contact (TPOC). TPOCs will assist the Program in keeping Agency Heads and Senior Leadership Teams updated on the status of the program as it relates to technology issues or matters. Additionally, TPOC members will: advise on current system interfaces and ramification of changes to those interfaces; reporting, share data analytics and business intelligence needs of the Agency, both current and in the future; share future system changes or upgrades that may affect the BEST Program; and ensure that the Agency’s unique data and system security needs are met.




What is the role of the Operations Work Groups (OWG)?


Operations Work Groups (OWGs) serve as a two-way communication and feedback group to ensure that the Commonwealth’s business and technical operations are successfully improved and transformed by the Program. There are two OWGs focused on Financials and HR/Payroll. The members of these groups are drawn from across state government and have knowledge of key operational requirements across all functional areas. They provide guidance to Program Functional Leads and will help to ensure that the business of the Commonwealth will be supported by the new solution. OWGs will make recommendations on topics such as impacts to operational policies, existing processes, records management, compliance, transparency, usability and security. The OWGs will also have Program Organizational Change Management / Communications participation whose role will be to work with OWG members to assure that clear and appropriate communications are provided to all organizations and that user input is solicited and incorporated.




What can I do to engage / participate in BEST?


Each agency has designated a Point of Contact and a Technical Point of Contact whose role is to ensure two-way communication between their agency and the PMO; we encourage interested parties to work with their appointed liaisons to learn of upcoming surveys, briefings or webinars. Additionally, the PMO team always welcomes direct feedback so please contact our office via our team email address at Transformation_PMO@mass.gov.




Who is the POC/TPOC/OWG/TAG from my agency?


Please send an email to Transformation_PMO@mass.gov and a BEST Program team member will provide this information to you.




What is the role of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG)?


Technical Advisory Group (TAG) members have specific requests related to document review of Technical Use Cases and Critical Requirements. While many TAG members are also TPOC members, the TAG team was established to advise the Program in various areas including Application Integration and Interfaces, Identity Management, Security and Network Support.




Are Independents, quasi-Independents, Higher Education, Judicial and other Commonwealth departments or agencies involved with this process?


The BEST Program's Executive Sponsors, Executive Steering Committee and Program Management Office have given careful consideration on establishing a strong cross-section of all agencies using financial and HCM/Payroll enterprise systems. Our PMO has coordinated information across the 150+ agencies and will soon reach out to partners such as vendors doing business with the Commonwealth to apprise them of the project. Please contact us directly if you have any questions regarding communications or designated liaisons.





Solution

Has the potential need for statute or regulatory change been considered?


Yes, statutes and regulations are being reviewed for potential updates to reflect improvements in business practices.




In addition to the new software, will the BEST Program make business process changes?


The BEST program will be suggesting business process changes where appropriate to achieve efficiencies and effective implementation of the new solution. Business and technology managers and users will have input into these decisions.




What is the difference between configuration and customization?


Customization is adding new code that changes the baseline application's functionality to meet the requirements of the client. Configuration uses values or parameters provided in the software via a user interface or table to change the behavior of the software to meet the client's requirements. Configured software is easier and less costly to upgrade and maintain.





Technical

What is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System?


Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, refers to systems and software packages used to integrate and manage day-to-day business activities of the various functional groups within an organization. The central feature of all ERP systems is a single shared database.




Will the Best program financial management solution interface with existing agencies business systems? How will agency-owned systems integrate with the new business systems?


How agency-owned systems will integrate with the new solution will not be known until a solution is selected. The BEST team will work with all interface partners to ensure that agency systems can interface with whatever solution is selected.




What is SaaS?


Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS for short, is a cloud-based method of providing software to users. SaaS users subscribe to an application rather than purchasing it once and installing it. Users can log into and use a SaaS applications from any compatible device over the Internet.




What is a Systems Integrator and why do we need it?


Systems Integrators specialize in working with the vendor's software and working with the client to implement the vendor's software solution to meet the client's requirements. The SI transfers skills and knowledge needed to manage and operate the new solution in the future.




What is a business intelligence solution?


A solution designed to retrieve, analyze, transform, and report data to help make data-driven decisions.




How will I access the new system?


Access can be through through a web browser, mobile device, or system to system through an api or a web service.




What does “the cloud” mean? Why a "cloud" based solution?


"The cloud" refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. Cloud hosting providers own or lease a data center or centers where they purchase, operate, and maintain hardware and software. Cloud security is the protection of data, applications, and infrastructures involved in cloud computing. The level of cloud security is dependent on the level of security and controls that the hosting vendor who oversees the cloud environment employs.




What consideration has been given to security? Will a "cloud" based solution require increased security?


The Commonwealth will require cloud software vendors to safeguard Commonwealth and Personal data following federal, Commonwealth and national standard-setting organization guidelines. One example is the requirement for the software vendor to participate in independent third party audits of its security protocols and infrastructure. Business rules will be constructed to ensure end user compliance with correct password construction and separation of duties in setting up user roles.