Oklahoma Human Services modernizes financial systems and improves fiscal transparency
By Amy Spehar and Destiny Washington
In August 2022, Oklahoma Human Services adopted PeopleSoft Financials, the state’s enterprise financial solution, to remove systemic barriers and provide new pathways to serve Oklahomans. With help from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, the state’s central IT provider – along with suppliers like LocalPeople, MiPro, Mythic and Oracle – OHS migrated from an outdated system to PeopleSoft in 13 months, completing the project within scope, on time and under budget.
The transition also included iTravelOK, a secure travel reimbursement system developed on Oracle Apex, and seamless integrations with Workday@OK, Grooper and IVA for cost allocation to maximize transparency of OHS’ financial records.
“The migration of the largest agency onto the state’s enterprise resource planning system is a substantial accomplishment,” said Ayana Wilkins, financial enterprise application director for OMES, “but it could not have happened without the dedication, commitment and 'Get stuff done’ attitude that the OMES teams exhibited.”
OHS helps more than 1.5 million Oklahomans each year, providing financial support for many vulnerable Oklahomans in need of public assistance. Their financial services team prioritizes fiscal responsibility in knowing that many citizens rely on financial assistance from various programs.
Previously, OHS used the same AS400 technology for the last decade. Updates were continually added to the system, but they only helped ensure functionality and security.
Financial reporting was clunky and required manual data entry into the system. The team also relied on a travel application that resided on AS400 to report any financial travel expenses. Most OHS professionals travel statewide for visits, so a modern application with improved security and cloud functionality would ease reporting for many employees.
“With thousands of transactions completed weekly,” said Cathy Menefee, OHS chief financial officer, “we knew we needed a reliable, uninterrupted transition of our financial services. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for our customers, and we needed to make sure a transition to newer technology was as simple as possible and did not cause any disruption for our employees and our programs.”
After updating the state’s PeopleSoft Financials system from Version 5 to Version 41 in 2020, the OMES Enterprise Financials team was ready for the challenge of moving an agency of OHS’ size to the state solution.
PeopleSoft Financials is an online software that provides state finance teams the ability to transact and view financial systems, online workflows and more.
“The updates have increased performance in networking, compute and storage overall for the system but also for the various applications within PeopleSoft,” Wilkins said. “This is transforming how our agencies report and track assets and their financials.”
The aid and support of OHS’ leadership team was crucial to help OMES and partnering suppliers complete the transition. Everyone followed the same mission of keeping it simple and meeting three primary goals:
- Become the model of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency through an integrated financial system modernization.
- Remove systemic barriers and provide new pathways that better serve the citizens of Oklahoma.
- Work closely with OMES and various suppliers to make the transition as simple as possible.
To achieve a successful move, however, a new technical challenge arose. OHS’ integral mission made it imperative to test their regulations and requirements in a safe and secure environment. For this reason, OMES and the suppliers first helped create a replica of OHS’ financials in the PeopleSoft Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. That replica provided a clear path for preserving the financial data and merging the requirements and regulations successfully into PeopleSoft OCI.
Once replica testing was completed, OHS moved fully to the state solution in August 2022. No longer on an aging financials system, OHS information is shielded by tiered defenses and highly secure operations that span from physical hardware in the state data centers to the web layer. This, paired with additional safeguards and controls available in the state cloud system, help OHS carry out their mission and support Oklahomans in need.