Ed Toner

Blog: Always good to have a plan

Jim Ohmberger walked into my office late one afternoon last week after a very long day. He had a look on his face I had never seen before. He was clearly upset, which is very unusual for the normally stoic and easy-going Jim. I figured something was terribly wrong: issue in the DC, outage somewhere? No, Jim had finally decided to move his desk. The first half of Jim’s plan was in place and well planned

Jim’s current desk configuration would not allow him to make the change he wanted, so he asked to have his old desk removed and replaced with a desk with the correct configuration.

The second half of the plan was not thought through. Specifically, would the new desk fit in the office? From the picture below, you decide:

Jim's office space

Besides giving me and many others on the Fourth floor a good laugh for the rest of the day, it reminded me that we all need to have a plan and communicate our plan as often as possible.

In establishing my plan, I needed to initially define my top priorities:

  • Security
  • Availability
  • Consolidation

Consolidation Plan with regards to Taxpayer Respect

And put a plan in place to ensure these priorities are achieved

I will soon reach my 90 day mark with the State and during this time I have written and re-written my plan or “Roadmap” for the next 18 months. I have reviewed and obtained feedback from my leadership team and discussed my vision with many of my peers.  I took input from multiple sources and adjusted as necessary. I have asked leadership to distribute the plan over the next few weeks and share the details with each of you in team meetings.    Many of you have heard pieces of my plan as I visited with small groups.

My next question was do we stay with a Decentralized IT model or go with a new Centralized IT model?  The answer I ended up with is somewhere in the middle – I feel a balance can be struck between completely centralized IT and completely decentralized - A “hybrid” Model-deriving the benefits of both.

Hybrid Centralization Model



Enhance security – Reduce risk

Security is most effective when you can quickly account for all of your assets. In this “hybrid” centralized model, OCIO has much more control over all of those assets and so has a much better shot at securing them. In our current decentralized model, it's difficult to get an accurate picture of what assets we have and where they are located, so security becomes far more challenging and adds additional risk.  Infrastructure centralization allows staff and management to quickly assess problems and find solutions.

Avoid duplication

One of the distinguishing features of decentralization is that there are various IT groups scattered throughout the organization, often resulting in IT groups that do not communicate well with each other, do not share best practices, and do not share resources-major duplication of effort.
Certain functions are better left decentralized such as those unique to a particular agency, as well as business intelligence activity, even if it pulls from a centralized data warehouse.

Standardize operations – Transparency

Centralization provides the opportunity to standardize IT infrastructure across the Enterprise, implement guidelines for IT governance, and establish best practices utilizing the ITIL framework. Standard systems such as help desk tools will allow for people in different Agencies to share approaches and process improvements. System enhancements can be used by everyone – not just those in the location doing the improvement.

Optimization of Infrastructure Resources

The OCIO will support basic infrastructure needs. Often it’s difficult for a small local staff to have the depth of expertise required to properly support a broad range of infrastructure products and security concerns. Centralization of infrastructure resources makes this affordable because you can share these resources across multiple departments and business units. Does this mean we pull all the IT infrastructure people out of the distributed locations and assemble them in one place? No, there is value in having people in each agency, talking to agency employees on a day-to-day basis and keeping the relationship managed.

Cost reductions

A plan that does not consider the State infrastructure and software as a whole is inherently a costly model by ignoring efficiencies that can be obtained by consolidating and sharing such assets. Disparate architectures, various technology vendors, and duplication of software products throughout the State leads to a loss of support synergies, purchasing economies of scale, and cross agency support efficiencies which result in higher IT costs at the State level.