Case Study: Best-of-Breed Software Solutions

Sep 09, 2022

HdL’s Best-of-Breed Local Tax Solutions with the City of Oakland

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solutions are a necessity for modern municipalities. However, as local governments quickly recognize, ERP solutions do have their limitations. These constraints can adversely impact your team’s performance in critical areas unless they are strategically supplemented with best-of-breed solutions. Locally administered revenue programs are one such area that is critical to local government operations but underserved by an ERP. HdL offers proven solutions to agencies unwilling to accept the limitations of an ERP.

ERP CHALLENGES AND HdL’s BEST-OF-BREED SOLUTION: PRIME

Margaret O’Brien, former Revenue and Tax Administrator for the City of Oakland, CA explained the dilemma of ERP limitations for locally administered revenue programs: “An ERP tends to rely more on the accounting end of things. The benefit of [HdL] Prime is that it is a comprehensive point-of-sale software solution which collects and processes revenue activities. The ERP system does one thing well but doesn’t do everything our revenue department needs. Prime lets City staff work to their strengths and not be limited by weaknesses in the ERP system.” O’Brien selected HdL to assist the City of Oakland out of several solution providers to meet the unique and sophisticated needs of the City’s municipal revenue administration programs.

HdL Prime’s superior ability is a reflection of how it was designed - by and for municipal finance leaders. HdL employs and consults with finance directors, revenue managers, certified revenue officers, business license/tax supervisors and even city managers. This incredible source of expertise, along with guidance from HdL’s 600+ municipal clients, ensure that our solutions excel in improving all aspects of the revenue administration process, including:

  • Easy-to-use online taxpayer portals to apply, renew, pay, close, search and more
  • Tax, license and registration processes for all locally administered cyclical revenue programs (such as business license, occupation tax, lodging tax, utility users tax, parking tax, rental unit registration, liquor tax, tobacco or cannabis tax and others)
  • Internal and external communications including emails to taxpayers and municipal staff

HdL clients identify many benefits from utilizing HdL’s best-of-breed solution over an ERP module, including:

  • Improved ease of use for businesses, the public and the municipality’s staff
  • More responsive and higher quality customer service
  • Higher return on investment, both through lower software costs and higher team productivity

EASY TO USE AND HIGH QUALITY CUSTOMER SERVICE

As a best-of-breed solution provider, HdL’s Prime local tax software was designed in every respect specifically for this unique area of municipal revenue operations. As a direct result, Prime is user-friendly, has a streamlined workflow to coordinate communication with various departments, and reliably captures the revenue and data needed to support daily operations. Prime is a cloud-based solution which eases the IT burden while securely storing and backing up data. Municipal staff agree that the software is easy to use, and taxpayers compliment the simplicity and flexibility of the online filing and payment process. Contrary to experiences with ERP provider support, municipalities find HdL’s customer service to be highly accessible, knowledgeable, and responsive.

One client reported, “The reliability and ease of use [with our ERP] were not there and the problems we encountered were not rectified by the provider in a timely manner. We were constantly calling on our own IT Department. Now with Prime, we have very few issues and we can often handle them ourselves. When we do need to call on HdL, the company is very responsive and answers our questions quickly and accurately.”

HdL is highly unique as a municipal software provider, offering top tier municipal finance expertise, services and support, in addition to our software solution. From software to assistance finding unlicensed businesses within your jurisdiction to an analysis of the equity of tax codes, HdL’s experts are ready to answer the call.

 

IMPROVED RETURN ON INVESTMENT

The revenue collection module of an ERP looks very appealing at first glance. It is presented as being tightly integrated, low cost to implement and provide a better customer service experience (as you only have one vendor relationship to manage). In practice, our clients report that none of these advantages prove true over time.

ERP solutions are often pieced together from various independent software solutions which were the result of corporate acquisition and are far from the tightly integrated and easy to use solution which was promised. Even if the module itself is offered for free, after data migration, integration, configuration, and training, then consulting costs are incurred, and the free module ends up costing far more than the best-of-breed solution. When support is needed, other core modules in the ERP receive the lion’s share of development and service attention, leaving support needs for municipal revenue collection often significantly delayed or simply ignored.

HdL is able to integrate with most ERPs (and offers an integration API for specialized needs) to ensure that the municipality’s ERP experience doesn’t suffer from using our solution. There is no need for the revenue department to suffer inefficiencies and support challenges by relying on an ERP module. HdL’s solution is often the most cost-effective option, in addition to being the highest quality option available, offering high quality data migration, turn-key system configuration, flexible implementation processes, and highly responsive and knowledgeable customer service.

One client expressed, “When deadlines approach, Prime makes it easy to select out the nonpayers and email them again. With the ERP, we had issues with emails not going out when we thought. We’ve never had that issue with Prime. We also had to close out one-by-one with the ERP, but Prime lets us close out by group. Everything is automated and there are fewer chances for mistakes.”

These client accolades for Prime are common. Connor Duckworth, Client Advisor at HdL states, “Municipalities tell us that HdL Prime is the best local revenue license, tax, and registration software on the market. We have a robust online portal for taxpayers, complete integration with the agency’s ERP and offer support and service.“

In the rare event that a municipality switches local revenue administration processes from HdL to their ERP solution, most switch back to HdL within three years. They find that the promised ROI for the ERP module never materializes, and in fact, generates a negative ROI through increased costs and decreased efficiency. Before making the sizeable investment in time and money which is required to implement an ERP module, consider their experiences and see if HdL Prime is a better solution for your agency.

 

Decrease operational costs. Increase revenue. Increase customer support. The HdL trifecta.

 

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