Contra Costa County

golden gate bridge and capital building

Contra Costa County


About the Client

The County of Contra Costa, California was incorporated in 1850 as one of the original 27 counties of the State of California, with the City of Martinez as the County Seat. It is one of the nine counties in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area. The County is the ninth most populous county in California, with its population reaching approximately 1,051,677 as of January 1, 2008.

Client Challenge

To upgrade Contra Costa County’s HR, Benefits and Payroll systems by several version levels and help employees update their skills.


Comprehensive needs assessment with implementation of change recommendations. Systems upgrade with simultaneous server upgrade. More than 30 classes created for 120 employees.

Client Benefit

All phases of the project were completed on time and on budget. The County’s payroll processing runs smoothly and error-free. User satisfaction has increased.

CherryRoad Solution

CherryRoad Technologies upgraded the county’s HR, Payroll and Benefits systems, improved process efficiency and provided extensive training for County employees.

“CherryRoad Technologies is professional, knowledgeable, and good to work with. We’ve been impressed with all the work they’ve done for us.”

Ron Saari, Project Manager

Contra Costa County improves efficiency and enhances user services with CherryRoad Technologies

Contra Costa County, California, situated on the northeastern corner of San Francisco Bay, is the ninth most populous county in California and one of the fastest-growing. The County government was one of the first public sector organizations in Northern California to implement software solutions applications. Now they needed to increase the functionality of their HR, Payroll and Benefits systems. And that called for a major upgrade spanning multiple version levels.

Based on CherryRoad’s in-depth knowledge of system applications and the company’s long-term experience working with state and local governments, Contra Costa County selected CherryRoad Technologies for their systems implementation.

Phase I: Needs Assessment

The first step the County took was to engage CherryRoad to examine their old system and determine what needed to be fixed. That involved more than a technology review. It also encompassed business practices, data mapping and functional requirements for the new system.

CherryRoad consultants spent two weeks conducting a comprehensive needs assessment. They worked closely with Contra Costa County personnel, interviewing end users about functional and technical aspects of County operations. They also explored the staff’s feelings and attitudes regarding their use of the ERP system, and examined existing system functions in depth. The study identified data that was too complex to migrate and pointed out business processes that would need to be changed.

Implementing process changes

Based on the assessment, CherryRoad’s consultants developed 70 specific change recommendations that Contra Costa County should undertake to prepare for the system upgrade. The County implemented some independently, and hired CherryRoad Technologies to implement the balance.

In a four-month process, CherryRoad joined with County staff to clean their data files, correcting benefits data that had been entered incorrectly in the first implementation. CherryRoad helped the County find areas where they could “decustomize” their requirements and benefit from standardized system functions. They also identified processes not handled by the new system that could be eliminated, and worked with County personnel to redesign the County’s business processes to capitalize on these streamlined systems operations.

Phase II: Implementation

Complicating the County’s system upgrade was the fact that, at the same time, they were upgrading their server environment from Citrix Winframe to Citrix Metaframe. Many software customizations would be required.

Drawing on the company’s proven change management methodology, CherryRoad’s consultants managed the upgrade smoothly. Contra Costa County’s HR, Payroll and Benefits systems went live on schedule and on budget.

Phase III: Training

The value of any system depends on your staff’s ability to use it. Recognizing this fact, Contra Costa County looked for a trainer to upgrade their employees’ skills. They knew that training would be required to enable employees to make full use of the new system.

The County conducted a competitive open bid process, and again selected CherryRoad for its knowledge of both systems and the County’s business processes. In addition, CherryRoad proposed training program had the advantage of being more tailored to the specific needs of the County. The training was conducted just prior to the go-live date, so every involved employee would be ready from day one.

CherryRoad created a specialized training program spanning 30 classes for approximately 120 Contra Costa County employees. Classes were tailored to the needs of various users, and respective of their time. First-time, occasional users were treated to one-day overviews of the HR, Benefits and Payroll modules. For “super users” of Payroll, an intensive five-day course was created. Benefits users received a one-day Benefits class followed by one-day Cobra and Benefits Billing classes and a two-day Query/Crystal reporting class.

This customized curriculum, rather than addressing the full range of applications functions, focused on the specific functions used by Contra Costa County. It also accommodated different employees’ varying skill levels. CherryRoad’s consultants ensured that each employee got a big-picture view of the system before zeroing in on system functions for individual job functions.

The results: Professionalism, quality and on-time delivery

CherryRoad completed all three phases of Contra Costa County’s implementation on time and very close to the initially estimated budget parameters. This creates a lot of good will among County staff.

Users find the new system to be much more convenient than the prior version, especially since retirement benefit and leave accrual calculations are an integrated system function. Previously, they had to exit the system and use a cumbersome mainframe-based application to determine these totals. In general, payroll processing runs much more smoothly with the new system. And that’s something every Contra Costa County employee can enjoy.

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