The City of Ferndale (“City”) is issuing this Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit vendor proposals for a municipal financial management software system (system) to serve the current and projected needs of the City. The application software and hardware configuration should comply with the minimum specifications as outlined in this RFP. The City operates on the cash basis of accounting.
The City intends to seek the best solution, based on the evaluation criteria contained in this RFP, for its data processing needs. The successful vendor(s) will seek to establish an integrated hardware/software environment for the City that can be implemented rapidly following conversion of existing data and processes into the system. The hardware/software must satisfy the specifications contained in this RFP and shall include whatever vendor resources are required from the areas of computer systems hardware, software, security, technical training, conversion, maintenance, and service support, including coordination with the City’s IT provider.
The City of Ferndale is a Second Class Code City located in Whatcom County, in northwest Washington State. The City has a population of approximately 15,500 people and is one of the fastest-growing cities in Washington State and operates as a cash-basis entity, utilizing the Washington State Auditor Budget, Accounting, and Reporting System (BARS). The Ferndale Finance Department consists of five full-time employees, including a Director, Deputy Treasurer, Senior Accountant, Utility Billing Clerk, and Accounts Payable Clerk. The City currently operates Vision Classic municipal finance software and utilizes Payroll, Utility Billing, Cash Management, Financials, and Business Licensing modules within that software.
Currently, the City also utilizes Microsoft Excel to supplement financial software when creating and maintaining the City’s budget, in creating Journal Entry and Transfer documentation, and more. The City also utilizes Quickbooks to process Accounts Receivable. The majority of City forms, including timesheets, utility billing, purchase orders or vouchers, and budget reporting are completed on paper copies that are then manually entered into the respective software systems.
In addition to the above, the City is seeking a Municipal Financial Management Software System and vendor that will provide:
- Full integration between financial modules (budgeting, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, utility billing).
- Budgeting reports include integrated revenue and expenditure balances with a minimum 5-year comparison reporting.
- Solutions , including software features or third-party applications, that will facilitate the conversion of existing hard-copy forms (time sheets, purchase vouchers, etc.) into an electronic format, with the goal of decreasing or eliminating hard copy paperwork and manual data entry.
- Compatibility with MS Office tools.
- Easy export of all data for analysis.
- Installed (non cloud-based) solution is preferred, but cloud-based applications will be considered.
- Real time posting of all financial transactions.
- Reliable and responsive support, with demonstrated company stability and continued innovation.
- Compatibility with SmartGov, Asset Essentials (Brightly Software), InvoiceCloud preferred.
- Ability to convert Vision Classic data to new system(s).
- Adequate security controls, including “firewall” controls: full access, read-only, and limited editing for all modules. Security controls must also include reporting and audit tools which document the nature and time of individual user edits within the system. Security controls should also include secondary approval for adjustments and changes.
- Reasonable ability for City staff to modify or edit City processes and thresholds based on City code or process changes.
- Solutions, including software features or third-party applications, that will enable online access for employees to view or print paystubs, W2’s, and employee accruals.
- General Ledger
- Budget (the City currently operates on an annual budgeting basis, biennial budget capability also requested)
- Accounts Payable
- Utility Billing, including flexibility to modify calculation methodology such as utility averaging, tiered billing structures, and to include other billing methodologies associated with different customer classes, including customer classes not yet defined by the current rate structure.
- Accounts Receivable
- Cash Receipting
- Payroll (including integrated timesheets), automated vacation request/ employee accrual database preferred
- Miscellaneous Invoicing
The City seeks to contract with a single vendor for all hardware and software, and hardware/software maintenance, installation, conversion, training, and support. The City contracts with an independent third party for IT purposes, and coordination between the single vendor and the City’s IT consultant is anticipated. The City reserves the right to evaluate each software application module on its own standard of performance, regardless of whether other or remaining application modules of the vendor are considered by the City. The City reserves the right to award the system to any one vendor or a combination of vendors.
Digital proposal will be accepted until 5pm on April 28th, 2023. Proposals submitted must be binding for no less than ninety (90) days after the date received.
The City reserves the right to reject any or all proposals or portions of a proposal. The City also reserves the right to waive minor technicalities in the proposal. The City reserves the right of evaluation and the right to determine the methodology for evaluation of the proposals to determine which proposal is best. The City reserves the right to re-open the RFP process or to modify the process after April 28th, 2023, if no vendor has been chosen. In such case, nothing shall prevent a vendor from submitting a new or identical proposal. However, the submission of a prior proposal shall not automatically result in consideration during a new RFP process. In addition, the City reserve the right to accept the proposal (or proposals) deemed to be in the best interest of the City; the most qualified proposal will not necessarily be the proposal with the lowest cost. Further, the City reserves the right to accept a proposal (or proposals) for any or all items separately or together.
Digital proposals should be submitted with the subject line “Municipal Financial Management Software,” and signed by an officer of the company. Digital proposals shall be mailed to the following email address:
It is the responsibility of the vendor to deliver the proposal in accordance with the instructions contained above and/or elsewhere in the RFP. Proposals dispatched, but not received by the City by the proposal closing time, will not be considered.
Pre-Submittal Questions: There will be no pre-bidders conference. Vendor inquiries are to be director to Susan Duncan, City Clerk, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comparable Agencies/ City Tour: The City may seek to gain a better understanding of the manner in which vendor software has been integrated into the daily operations of other public entities (not necessarily municipal governments), and requests a list of Washington State public agencies that are currently utilizing this software. The City reserves the right to contact any and all of these agencies and may request a tour or conference with these agencies, independent of the vendor.
Award of Contract: The final award of the proposal or contract will be made by the Ferndale City Council. The City reserves the right to request that representatives of the vendor attend a City Council meeting or City Council Committee meeting (virtual or in-person) in order to respond to questions or to demonstrate the functionality of the system.
Contract: In addition to the completed proposal, a resulting contract may be required by the City, including but not limited to: written correspondence between the City and the vendor subsequent to the proposal submission, product literature, or similar.
RFP Amendments: The City reserves the right to request clarification on any proposal or to ask respondents to supply any additional material deemed necessary to assist in the evaluation of the proposal. The City reserves the right to change the RFP schedule or to issue amendments to the RFP at any time. The City also reserves the right to cancel or reissue the RFP without notice.
Public Disclosure: All materials provided to the City by vendors are subject to State and City public disclosure laws. Any proprietary information contained in the vendor’s proposal must be clearly designated and shall be labeled “Proprietary Information.” Marking the entire proposal or any one or more of the major sections as proprietary will not be accepted.
Software Conversion: The City currently utilizes Vision Classic financial software and anticipates that all or a majority of data from the existing software provider will be converted to the new system. The City further anticipates that both software suites will continue to operate for a period of time as City staff are trained and as the system is integrated. The preferred vendor must demonstrate the technical ability to coordinate this data transfer.
Contact with City Employees. In order to ensure fair and objective evaluation, all questions related to this RFP should be addressed only to the person(s) so named in this RFP. Contact with any other City employee, including but not limited to email or telephone marketing directed at any City staffmember is expressly prohibited without prior consent of the person(s) so named herein. Vendors directly contacting other City employees will risk elimination of their proposal from further consideration. Any vendor with an existing relationship or contract with the City may contact the City only to perform required maintenance and updates of existing systems, be they related to the City’s financial modules or another form of software or hardware.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
The City intends to complete the selection process using the following schedule. However, the City reserves the right to adjust the timeline as necessary. Any changes to the schedule will be posted on the City’s website.
Questions regarding the RFP may be submitted to the City by March 31, 2023 at noon. The list of submitted questions with their respective answers will be posted to the City’s website by April 4th at 5pm. The City in its sole discretion will determine whether its response to a question is adequate.
The City reserves the right to make an award without further discussion of the proposal submitted. The City shall not be bound or in any way obligated until both parties have executed a vendor contract. The City also reserves the right to delay contract award and/or not to make a contract award.
Release Request For Proposal March 14th, 2023
Vendor Questions Due March 28th, 2023
VENDOR PROPOSALS DUE BY 5PM April 28th, 2023
City Review April 28th – May 8th
Vendor Selected – Recommendations to Council May 10th, 2023
Council Approval – Contract Awarded May 15, 2023
The RFP Response shall be organized in the following order:
- Executive Summary
- Company Background
- Client References
- Recommended Software Solution
- Recommended hardware and software
- Proposed data conversion process
- Proposed implementation and training schedule
- Cost Summary
- Terms and Conditions
The Executive Summary should include a brief overview of the Proposal. It should be prepared in such a manner as to make it understandable to individuals not familiar with the terminology particular to a project of this type.
2.0 Company Background
The Company Background should provide vendor information including, but not limited to:
- Company headquarters information
- Complete list of products provided by the Vendor, including, but not limited to:
- Release date
- Most-recent update
- Product origination (i.e., developed in-house, acquisition from another Vendor, etc.)
- Anticipate future software updates or plans to update, and including expectations for product patches to be included in a potential contract, vs. updates that will not be included in the potential contract.
- Number of years in public sector software
- Total number of clients
- Total number of employees
List the number of staff members* by primary responsibility:
Marketing and Sales: _________________________
Network Services: ___________________________
*If applicable, please note any staffing expansions or reductions anticipated within the next
twelve months, why these changes may be necessary, and the consequences to the vendor if these changes do not occur as planned.
**As necessary, please describe the manner in which individual employees are tasked with
multiple responsibilities within the organization.
3.0 Client References
Vendor must supply at least three (3) Washington sites that are currently using a similar system requested by the City. Be sure to include the total population served by the government. Please provide: entity name, address, contact name, phone number, and email address. This reference list is mandatory.
4.0 Recommended Software Solution
Describe the recommended software solution for the requested Municipal Financial Management Software.
- Product names and features. The City welcomes a comprehensive list of features, including a discussion of the manner in which these features contribute to a comprehensive financial management software solution, a comprehensive and streamlined City financial process, reduction or elimination of hard copy forms and manual data entry, creation of new digital forms, and potential integration with existing City processes and procedures.
- The vendor may also include recommended third party software or hardware that is intended to complement and will be compatible with the vendor’s own systems.
- Any known or anticipated issues or concerns related to data and software conversion from legacy systems.
- Recommended City hardware, including server access, and including planned coordination with the City’s IT provider related to:
- Review of initial needs
- Initial installation
- Customer service
- Unplanned updates/ troubleshooting
- Scheduled updates
- Testing and verification procedures necessary to validate full and accurate data transfer.
- Vendor responsibility for protecting against, monitoring, reporting, and resolving security breaches
The Vendor should provide the following Support Information:
- Support Options
- Does the Vendor provide Online Support?
- Is the Vendor available for pre-arranged onsite collaboration that can be integrated into the contract, or may be available for an additional cost, as needed, beyond the contract?
- Typical response times
Other options for support?
- Support Goals
- Please provide response times and resolution times to the following incident levels:
- Emergency (Issue must be resolved immediately)
- Critical (Issue must be resolved rapidly in order to maintain City functions)
- Standard Help Call (Resolution not time-critical)
- Problem Escalation Procedures
- How are incidents handled?
- What tools do the vendor support staff use in order to understand the issue, to collaborate with other vendor employees, and to work with City staff?
- What is the basic chain of command? What elements of the command structure should City staff understand when making a request?
- Can City staff break the chain of command for emergency issues, if they do not believe the issue is being resolved efficiently? How would this process take place?
- System Updates
- How are updates managed?
- How often are updates released?
- What is the typical downtime during an update?
- Do all modules have the same update schedule?
- When is the next major modification scheduled for each of the modules?
- Does the vendor anticipate that any of the modules will be replaced or discontinued within the next five years? If so, which one(s)?
- What steps are taken to protect against data breaches, fraud, or the loss of data during initial conversion and subsequent updates?
- Vendor Dissolution or Sale
- What steps are in place to protect the City from the sudden or unexpected dissolution of the vendor, or its sale?
- Will the City be able to access data if the vendor is suddenly dissolved? What steps can be established to ensure that City data is retained and can be imported to replacement software?
- What steps are in place to ensure that the Vendor will support data conversion from its platform to another platform, should the City seek another platform in the future?
6.0 Cost Summary
Amounts should contain taxes. All costs shall be in actual dollar-and-cent amounts, “Time and Material” quotation is not acceptable. Please break down costs by each product and the associated costs to implement. Provide a separate break down cost and details for recommended data import from Vision Classic software for all applications. Provide a separate break down cost and details for training City Staff. Please note that for the purposes of these calculations, City Staff shall include:
- Finance Director (one FTE)
- Deputy Treasurer (one FTE)
- Senior Accountant (one FTE)
- Utility Billing Clerk (one FTE)
- Accounts Payable (one FTE)
- Misc non-Finance Staff who will utilize new software on an irregular basis, generally as internal users/customers.
7.0 Terms and Conditions
Vendor shall protect, indemnify, and hold the City harmless from and against any damage, cost, or liability for any injuries to persons or property arising from acts or omissions of the vendor, its employees, agents, or sub-contractors, howsoever caused.
Certificates of insurance shall be addressed to the City. All insurance shall be in effect during the term of the contract. Vendor shall provide the following coverage:
- General liability, errors, and missions insurance not less than $1million for bodily injury including accidental death, to any one person and aggregate. Property damage not less than $1 million for any one accident or aggregate.
- Vendor’s Protective Liability Damage Insurance in the same minimum coverage as under General Liability Insurance.
- Worker compensation insurance in accordance with provisions of the Labor Code of Washington.
The electronic conversion of the City’s existing data is vital. Vendor must address the conversion methodology, including data needs from the City and the existing software provider (Vision Classic), and disclose all related conversion costs in the cost summary. The Vendor must also clarify expectations for City staff participation in data import and conversion.
Response Preparation Costs
The City will not pay any costs incurred by any vendor in the proposal preparation, printing, demonstration, or negotiation process. All costs shall be borne by the proposing vendors with the exception of costs associated with any City personnel visits to Vendor offices or other client sites.
The basis for the evaluation of proposals received shall including the following considerations, along with the indicated relative importance. Pursuant to RCW 29.04.270, the City will choose the vendor or vendors whose proposal is determined in the City’s sole discretion to be most advantageous to the City. By submitting a proposal, a vendor acknowledges and agrees to these conditions:
- Vendor’s performance record in meeting the requirements of their existing public sector customers (users). Particular emphasis will be placed in the areas of training, customer support and the ability to meet the anticipated future needs of the City.
- Compatibility and integration with existing hardware and software.
- Total cost, including capability and costs to perform the required conversion of existing data files.
- Quality of application software manuals, or other documentation and training aids.
- Ease and ability to train user personnel .
- Responsiveness and adherence to the requested proposal format, which includes the thoroughness of the proposal as well as the format of the presentation .
- Proposer’s ability to support the total system solution, including implementation, conversion, software, training,, and software maintenance, support and on-going modifications .
- Software maintenance, support, and service capability .
- Built in compliance with the Washington State Auditor’s prescribed Budget, Accounting, and Reporting System (BARS) for a cash basis entity .
- Budgeting reports include integrated revenue and expenditure balances with 5-year comparison reporting .
- Vendor responsibility for protecting against, monitoring, reporting, and resolving security breaches, including anticipated vendor access requirements before, during, and after conversion.
- Overall operational fit, including potential streamlining of operations, decrease in manual entry, and decrease in hard-copy record storage requirements.