By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Jan. 10, 2019) After several years of searching for a solution to outdated financial and operational software, the Ocean Pines Board on Saturday voted unanimously to allow General Manager John Bailey to begin negotiations to purchase Northstar Club Management Software.
The 7-0 vote was based on a motion by Director Ted Moroney “to accept the General Manager’s recommendations to implement the IT software solution.”
Funds for the purchase would come from general replacement reserves. Bailey is to present a contract to the board no later than Feb. 16.
Moroney said Ocean Pines representatives spoke with two other homeowners associations that are clients of Northstar and “received really good input and backup.”
Three directors previously critical of Northstar said they were now onboard, but still had one reservation. Directors Frank Daly, Esther Diller and Slobodan Trendic all said they were concerned with the implementation process.
“I do want to caution the management team … to take this project very seriously,” Trendic said. “This is [an] IT project [and] most IT projects fail because of poor planning, poor management [and] poor implementation.”
Trendic said it is important to have a sound project plan, an experienced project manager and the right contingency in place.
“This is not a single purchase of a vehicle that you can dispose of in a few years,” he said. “This is an investment that’s going to impact the operation of this association for years to come and it’s a huge investment over a period of time. So, I think we need to be very careful. It’s not about the vendor — it’s really a lot about the project planning and project execution.”
Association President Doug Parks said discussions with references led him to concluded that the need for an effective project manager “was pretty apparent.”
Parks, who has more than three decades of experience working in the information technology sector, added, “that is not uncommon in my real-life job.”
“That will drive that project to either successful completion or utter failure,” he said.
Parks said the Northstar timeline to have new systems running by April was probably too aggressive, but did mention May 1 as hypothetically being more realistic.
Daly said the new systems would drive “every aspect of the business and the way to manage it for years to come,” but cautioned board members and staff to “saddle up.”
Parks said that was a fair point.
“The staff needs to understand they’re going to have to go above and beyond the regular day-to-day activities,” he said. “Coming in at 9 and punching the clock at 4:30 is probably not going to be the norm, at least for a little while.”