In-Depth

ATLAS Roster Management Project

Innovator Award Submission Sybase PowerBuilder and Emerald City Software

I. Project Information

Emerald City Software Sybase
Project designation:

The ATLAS Roster Management Project

Brief explanation of the goals of the project:

The goals of this project were to implement ATLAS as the Enterprise Workforce Management tool for the Washington Department of Corrections in order to:

  • improve the safety and security of staff, inmates and the community while lowering the potential for legal actions against the State
  • provide a system that will leverage staff knowledge, improve productivity, insure consistent output, and standardize the information, as well as the business rules, across organizational boundaries
  • detail, track, control and report on all personnel costs to effectively manage and reduce/improve overtime, absenteeism, utilization of staff resources and accuracy of collected time.

Provide executives and managers with real-time access to:

  • detailed expenditures
  • information to identify specific cost drivers
  • identify areas for cost reductions
  • stabilize ongoing deficiencies
  • accurately report to the Governor, Legislature and Control agencies on the Department’s budget

This real time information will enable management to ensure that Department and State policies and procedures are being consistently applied and followed. This, in and of itself, is a major accomplishment.


Sybase PowerBuilder supplied a highly adaptable front end user interface residing above a proven database rules engine. The Rapid Application Development capabilities and DataWindow® component delivered a fast, flexible tool capable of absorbing a flood of modifications in a short development timeframe. Without a highly effective RAD capable tool-set, the project would not have achieved the stated goals in a cost and time effective manner.

Brief description of the business risks involved:

Leading Edge Technology:

ATLAS is fully integrated with the SAP HRMS and Gross Payroll ERP applications and is the system of record for employee scheduling and time collection. The Washington


DOC is the world’s first truly enterprise resource planning correctional facility. No other DOC has an enterprise workforce management solution (ATLAS) fully integrated with an enterprise resource planning system (SAP).


Limited Resources: The Washington DOC is not a funding rich organization. As such resources were very limited. The Washington DOC provided 1 full time ‘super user’ and 1 full time IT resource. Emerald City Software provided the remaining 5 resources.

Business Process Re-engineering:

ATLAS was a positive agent for change. However, the majority of system users possessed limited computer skills. Many of the change requests encountered by the 2 project team were intended to simplify a users involvement with the application. The project team also encountered both a strong willingness and resistance to change business processes.

Resistance to Management Oversight: Superintendents, as well as correctional staff, were uncomfortable with Headquarters access to workforce information in a real-time and un-restricted manner. Correctional facilities are frequently seen as ‘fiefdoms’ and are frequently run in an autonomous manner; ATLAS is challenging the status quo and changing this paradigm.

Brief description of how the system helps users:

This system helps users to have a rapid delivery of a full-featured, yet user-friendly, targeted application to a satisfied customer in order to streamline the flow of information (improved worker productivity), significantly reduce manual re-entry of workforce data, provide real time information, increase security of information, allow for extensive automation of manual reporting requirements. Also:

  • Management and union rules are uniformly followed
  • Users now have a proactive tool to bring about positive changes in their work environment

II. Organizational Objectives

What short and long-term benefits did the organization achieve from the project?

Short Term

  • Identifies the ‘root’ cause of overtime
  • Full integration of mission critical data
  1. Data mining of key financial data
  2. Improved accuracy of payroll data
  3. 15 data silos centralized into one enterprise database

New functionality and reporting toolset for custody personnel now on-line

  1. Searches, Incidents, Control Logs
  2. Drills, Safety Inspections, Emergency Operations Center
  3. Shift Summary, Master, Multi-Unit and Alpha Roster, Security Roll-up
  4. reports all on-line

Achieving short term cost savings by analyzing the incremental costs associated with

  1. Extra Posts (temporary work crews in an unfunded position)
  2. Transportation Posts

Long Term

  • Best Practices are being shared across organizational boundaries
  • Performance Measurement of key labor indicators
  1. DOC did not have access to KPI’s prior to ATLAS
  2. DOC now has access to real-time financial data

Oxley / Sarbanes compliance tool

  • Achieve a 2% reduction in gross payroll due to the on-going reduction of incremental costs associated with
  1. Overtime
  2. Absenteeism

Improve the safety and security of staff, offenders and the community as a whole by insuring that federal, state, local, management and union rules are rigorously enforced.


Did the solution meet the projected goals for saving time and money?
This project was completed ahead of project schedule, under budget, and with significantly more functionality than originally specified in the RFP. There were no cost change orders associated with this project! This project is now viewed as the most successful IT project in the history of the Washington Department of Corrections.


How were benefits measured?
Management is currently focusing on the ATLAS overtime and absenteeism reports (a grouping of approximately 10 key reports) as the primary benefits measurement tool.
Executive, Custody (Operations), and Financial Services management utilize these reports as a means for organizational and financial accountability.

Was the system mission critical to the organization?

Absolutely. In addition to scheduling 4,200 correctional officers to their positions on a 7 x 24 hour basis, ATLAS tracks the following critical information:

  • Operation logs from major and minor control
  • Emergency Operations Center
  • Searches
  • Incidents
  • Safety Drills
  • Employee Behavior
  • Incidents
  • Significant Events
  • Employee Qualifications
  • Employee Tombstone Data
  • Employee Training

This system has been identified as Mission Critical by the Washington Office of Financial Management, the Department of Information Services and the Department of Corrections.

Describe the business purpose of the new system:

To implement an operations-based roster management system that is the system of record for custody pay while providing Custody, Financial Services and Executive management with the information necessary to make sound policy and fiscal decisions concerning their workforce and facilities.

Describe the features of the new system:

The features of the new system include a complete operations based Enterprise/Strategic Workforce Management package.

Explain the functions of the new system:

See Section I, answer a.

Who were the internal sponsors of the project? Which officials or groups were opposed to developing the application? Why?
  • Internal Sponsors: Custody (Operations), Financial Services, IT and Executive Management
  • Opposition came mainly from the correctional staff members that were resistant to change and technology.
Were users of the system involved in the project during the planning and development phases? If so, how?
  • User Involvement: Management went to great lengths to place key users on the project steering committee and to conduct monthly meetings with other key users to update as to enhancements and project progress
  • Project Pilot: The day-to-day administration of the project pilot was left to key users at the designated facilities. This led to both user input and user buy-in.

What were the greatest challenges in completing this project? How were they overcome?

Project Resources, Facility Culture, Business Process Re-engineering and Project Timeline:

  • Limited project resources meant that teams had to be united, well organized and with a clear understanding of project goals. Team building exercises (limited due to time) along with involving facilities with the project pilot allowed members to quickly share lessons learned from the pilot. This allowed for rapid improvements to both the product and the roll-out to insure that mistakes weren’t repeated.
  • Facility Culture: By identifying problematic facilities early in the project cycle and then involving them with the project pilot, many cultural issues were overcome prior to rollout of ATLAS at their facility.
  • Business Process Re-engineering: Executive management empowered the steering committee to make crucial decisions in a very time-effective manner. Executive management support enabled these decisions to be implemented with a minimal amount of facility ‘pushback.’
  • Project Timeline: ATLAS was brought in to replace an ageing (and we soon learned dying) application. Rapid roll-out was absolutely critical as the replaced system was repeatedly ‘crashing’ at facilities throughout the state.

Were the goals changed as the project progressed? If so, what were the changes and why were they made?

  • Initially intended as a tool primarily for Roster Managers and Custody management
    (approximately 80 users), the ATLAS user group was expanded to all senior and middle level management (approximately 900 users), major and minor control personnel, and executive management. ATLAS is now imaged on all DOC computers and future roll-outs will include the remaining 4,000 employees in non-custody positions. The success of the pilot coupled with the breadth and depth of ATLAS’ features and functionality served as the primary motivation for the expansion of the user base.

III. Category

E-business Application Development

ATLAS possesses a complete Employee Self Service module that will be implemented by the DOC in a later phase. Additionally, the Sybase toolset utilized by Emerald City Software, along with the Sybase partnership with Appeon, enables the ATLAS solution to be migrated to the web. The DOC has expressed an interest in this E-business approach and will implement this technology in a future phase.


IV. Methodology/Process

a. Describe how productivity tools or techniques were used in the project.
  • Sybase Powerbuilder
  • Emerald City Software’s Diagnostics Tool

Tools and utilities to assist in the data migration, data configuration and on-going data quality analysis


Were testing tools used during development? If so, when were they used? Was the testing cost-effective?

Diagnostics, an ECS proprietary tool, along with ATLAS system administration utilities were used to assist in testing. The project team used a RAD approach to system development. Testing was conducted in cycles using subject matter experts from the user community. Specific documentation was produced directing testing approach and methodology. The Diagnostics tools did not require an additional license fees and was a part of the fixed bid.

Was a formal or informal software development life-cycle methodology employed? If yes, please describe it.

A mix of both formal and informal software development methodology was used by the team members. Due to the limited number of resources coupled with a very tight implementation schedule, team members were left with little choice but to use a modified RAD approach to software development. Business requirement and technical design documentation was kept to a minimum in order to expedite the life-cycle. Subject matter experts (SME) rought together on an as-needed basis for joint application design sessions. The JAD sessions resulted in quick screen mock-ups of intended business processes and, once approved, where finalized and implemented in the Test and Quality Assurance databases for SME sign-off. The Steering Committee provided oversight for all enhancement requests and monitored any discrepancies generated by the application.


What formal or informal project management methodologies and/or tools were used to manage the project? If used, please describe how.

A formal approach to project management was used to manage all components of the project. From detailed business objectives to an integrated business solution that provided the governance and project structure, the quality management plan, identified critical success factors, integrated milestones and assessed risk a classic approach to project management was undertaken by the Steering Committee. Microsoft Project was the primary tool used to manage the integrated project plan. Other methodologies/processes included a detailed communications plan, risk register, change management approach, project resources analysis, quality management plan and approach to reports, interfaces and conversions.


Were software quality metrics used? If so, what were they, and did using them significantly help the project?

Due to team size, workload of the resources and limited project timeline, software quality metrics were used only during the weekly discussions regarding the issues log. Simple metric calculations as to the number of issues, if certain issues upon resolution reoccurred and the number of true product issue as compared to both user training issues and data migration issues were calculated to determine the relative quality of the software being developed.


V. Technology

What were the major technical challenges that had to be overcome to complete the project successfully? How did the team respond to those challenges?

System Performance: The DOC uses a WAN that encompasses the entire state of Washington. This WAN, which is shared with other state agencies, can produce significant transmission bottlenecks. Therefore, several critical business processes that were client ‘heavy’ were re-written using Transact SQL. This resolved any of the performance issues.


What software tools, including databases, operating systems and all development tools, were selected for the project? Why were they selected over competing tools? What process was used to select development tools and software platforms?

  • Sybase PowerBuilder (Development Tool): Selected by the Vendor for its outstanding 4GL capabilities.
  • MS SQL Server (Database): Department and State IT standard
  • MS Windows XP (Client Operating System): Department and State IT standard
Describe the overall system architecture. Were elements of the technical infrastructure where put in place to support the new system? Please describe.

System Architecture:

Network – The Department’s WAN supports small to large community corrections offices, work release facilities, and state prisons. The network consists of a Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) based private Intranet residing behind a firewall. All sites are homerun (a star-like topology) to the Department of Information Services (DIS) in Olympia, Washington using Routers via a TCP/IP-based frame relay circuits (56K, Fractional T1, and T1). The central router is a Channel Interface Processor (CIP) attached to an IBM mainframe. The permanent virtual circuits (PVCs) within the Department’s frame relay network run point-to-point into T1 circuits at the data centers. Most Department prison sites will have an ISDN backup circuit installed while the field sites will utilize a plain old telephone service (POTS) line providing each router with synchronous or asynchronous dial backup capability to the Department of Information Service’s Data Center (DIS-DC). The DOC is currently working with DIS on a project to move our circuits to the DIS Backbone. This will take approximately 18 months and will enhance disaster recovery while providing for some redundancy (meshing) of the circuits.


Intranet – The Department utilizes its own Intranet and employs a firewall at the DIS-DC for LAN and WAN network security from all external (non-DOC) entities.


Routers – routers have been deployed at all Department community corrections offices, work release facilities and at prison sites. There are a number of small, one to two staff member offices dialing into routers located at larger offices (within a local phone call area). Mobile community corrections officers also use laptop computers in the field to work closely with police agencies. Equipped with cellular modems, their laptop computers communicate with the host computers and file servers in Olympia.


LANs – Ethernet LANs are attached to all Department routers. The Department’s routers utilize TCP/IP for all WAN communications. The Department’s connection to the Internet is through a service offered by the DIS-DC. The Department’s LAN sites are connected locally via a 10/100, or soon to be 1000 Meg Ethernet backbone.


Servers – There are approximately 70 servers currently installed in single domain architecture at the Department’s Headquarters and major institutions, while each of the remaining locations have from two to 100 users running peer-to-peer networking with no dedicated servers at this time. The Department will be installing dedicated servers at some of these locations over the next few years.


Technical Infrastructure Changes: Roster Managers, Captains, Lieutenants, and Payroll Liaisons received upgraded p.c.’s. These individuals had not received new equipment in over 4 years.


What characteristics of the tools and technologies used were most important in achieving the business purposes of the system?


Sybase PowerBuilder’s rapid development capabilities were a primary factor in the successful implementation. PowerBuilder’s adaptability enabled multitudinous changes to be made on the fly - keeping the project on schedule.


VI. Project Team

What was the size of the development team?

Development Team:

  • Three expert level Powerbuilder Developers
  • Two senior level business analysts
  • Two senior level testers.
  • Implementation Team
  • DOC
  • One ‘super-user’
  • One IT liaison
  • Steering Committee members from Custody, Financial Services, Human Resources and IT
  • Emerald City Software
  • One technical implementation resource
  • Training Lead
  • Two facility leads for on-sight implementations and on-the-job training
  • One project manager
Describe the software development experience of the team members.

The two of the three developers utilized on the ATLAS implementation project are Certified Professional Developers with over 10 years of PowerBuilder experience. The remaining developer has 7 years of PowerBuilder experience.

What was the composition and skill level of the team? Did development teams require training to work with the technology?

The majority of the DOC members on the project had never been associated with a software development and implementation project. All members of the ECS team had extensive experience in both the development and implementation of enterprise workforce management software.

How many person-months/days did the project take, and over what calendar time frame? Was a formal schedule created at the start of the project? Did the project stay on schedule?

Approximately 1,635 person days were required over an 11 month period to successfully implement ATLAS at 15 facilities for approximately 900 users. A formal schedule was created as a part of the project charter. Project slippage occurred during the pilot; it was intend to last 45 days but was concluded after a total of 82 days. This lapse in time was easily made up during the rollout portion of the project. The project was concluded 31 days ahead of schedule.

Did management and the user community consider the project a success?

The ATLAS implementation project is now considered the most successful software implementation in the history of the Washington DOC. Intended for approximately 75 users, ATLAS now has nearly 900 users and has gained wide acceptance throughout the agency.

If you had to do the project over again, would you do anything differently? If yes, please explain why.

Lessons Learned

  • Local Steering Committees, started during the second wave of the rollout, should be started upon completion of the project charter. These committees were comprised of an Associate Superintendent, Captain, LT, Sergeant, Roster Manager and payroll and were found to be necessary to keep the project on course and to provide a feedback mechanism for sites to communicate with the project Steering Committee.
  • Spend more time at the beginning of the project resolving the Business Process Reengineering issues.
  • Don’t underestimate the challenges associated with overseeing a smooth running change management process.
  • Training – Don’t train too early and have up-to-date materials to train from.
  • Implement a Roster Manager Round Table during the pilot and continue it throughout the life of the project.
  • Implement a Payroll Roundtable during the pilot and continue it throughout the life of the project.
  • Add Human Resources personnel to the Steering Committee at project inception.
  • More players on the Steering Committee. Add a Roster Manager from all of the major facilities.
  • Don’t allow vacation schedules at the pilot and implementation sites to interfere with the rollout schedule.
  • Make sure that people are available when implementation staff are on site.
  • Communicate to all key players the meaning of a pilot, the expectations and the roles and responsibilities of all involved.

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