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?


► 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.

► 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) ► Human Resources/Compensation Management System (HR/CMS) Future initiatives may include improvements in other enterprise administrative systems.




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 Tranformation_PMO@mass.gov




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 users as well as employees using self-service features to record and/or track work related time and beneftis. 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 HR/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 HRCMS?


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.




Where can I find more information?


The PMO Communications team shares updates via direct outreach to POC, TPOC and OWG members; many of these updates and briefings can be viewed on our website (MABEST.org)




How is(will) funding (be) obtained for this Project?


The BEST project is considered a capital project and therefore is funded by issuing debt in the form of state bonds.





Representation & Communication

Who are the Opertions Work Group (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 POC members?


Each department has idenitifed 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 TPOC members?


Each department has idenitifed 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 OWG members?


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 lisasons 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 Point of Contact (POC) from my agency?


The Points of Contact (POC) membership list will be shared through our website in a future update; currently, any updates are shared by Agency or Department leaders to the BEST PMO directly and requests for information can be made to: transformation_pmo@mass.gov




Are Independents, Quasi-indpendents, Higher-Ed, Trial Court and other Commonwealth departments or agencies involved with this initiative?


The BEST Program's Executive Sponsors, Executive Steering Committee and Program Management Office have given careful consideration to establishing a strong cross-section of all agencies using financial and HR/Payroll enterprise systems. Our PMO has coordinated informaiton 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 liasons.




What is the Project timeline?


This estimated 3-4+ year project began in July 2019. Visioning and vendor selection is scheduled to be completed in Spring of 2021. Implementation will occur in phases for 2+ years. Find a more detailed timeline at: https://www.mabest.org/timeline




How has COVID-19 affected the timeline of the BEST program?


The BEST PMO team continues to make progress on finalization of a RFP across all partners and contacts, with strong support from our Executive Sponsors. While COVID-19 has presented many challenges to everyone in the workforce, the transformational goals are more critical than ever with many employees working from home. Our team remains focused on the crticial deliverables but any changes to scope or timelines will be shared through our standard channels, including our website.




What is the current status of this program? How do agencies know what is happening with the BEST program? Is there a summary of events/decisions/work that took place in the last month and a list of tasks for the next quarter?


The program status is available on the Program website, MABest.org. The News section is updated frequently with updates and presentations from the Program. Agency Points of Contact receive bi-weekly communications from the Program Team.




Will training be provided on the new system? How am I supposed to learn the new system? How and when will I get training? Will I receive training on the new ERP System? Will training be available for new members of our staff? Will training continue to be offered for new staff after implementation?


Transitioning away from well-known, strongly used systems to a new solution can seem daunting, but we are strongly committed to making any changes as smooth as possible. Training and support is a focus of the Program and Change Management teams with more information being shared once we finalize a solution and develop training resources and guides.




What is the role of TAG members?


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.





Solution

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


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




What are Business Requirements and how will they be used?


Business Requirements outline the specifications the end user is looking for in the proposed system. Working with the POCs, TPOCs, and OWGs, the PMO team has identified a number of Business Requirements, that have been developed into Use Cases to be included in the RFR.




How is BEST choosing a software vendor and systems integrator?


BEST will issue an RFR to solicite vendors responses which will be reviewed by a committee. Responses will include information on the proposed solution as well as a separate cost response. Ultimately, the Executive Sponsors will select the solution.




Will accounts receivable and billing be a part of the system?


Accounts receivable and billing are being considered and included in the Use Cases as part of the RFR.




Will program codes remain the same or will they change?


Program Codes are defined by agencies. It is unclear if they will change at this time.




Will there be changes to the Chart of Accounts (COA)?


The Chart of Accounts is being reviewed, however, any changes have not been determined at this time.




Will the solution include a tracking system for invoices?


Workflows are one of the universal benefits which have been identified as an opportunity in the new solution.




What reporting capabilities will the new system offer?


Reporting and analytics are universal benefits which have been identified as opportunities in the new solution.




Will users have direct access to mass upload in new system?


Specifics related to functionality of the new solution will not be known until a software is selected.




Does the new system offer an improved user interface?


While a solution has not yet been selected for the Commonwealth, cloud applications are designed with an intuitive user interface aimed at increasing productivity in a secure, device agnoistic (ie mobile, tablet friendly) environment.





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 functions within an organization. The central feature of all ERP systems is a single shared database.




In addition to the new software, will the BEST program support 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 SaaS?


Software as a service, or SaaS, is a software delivery model in which software is accessed over the internet via a subscription, rather than installed and maintained on individual computers.




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


Systems Integrators specialize in working with the product 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 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.




What does the "cloud" mean?


"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.





Glossary / Index (Coming Soon)

What does this term, phrase or acrnoym mean?


A full index or glossary will be shared in a future update with commonly used terminology, defined abbreviations and related terminology.





BEST PMO Contact Info

Address:

Program Management Office

One Ashburton Place

Boston, MA 02108

13th Floor, Room 1310

Email:

Transformation_PMO@mass.gov