I feel every technology journey must begin with mastering Tactical IT Execution. The specific actions, “the basics” you learn to achieve that next level of development. That goes against most advice which states that strategic planning happens first. Strategic actions are the future-oriented goals that align with an organization’s stated mission.
Working in public sector IT gives you the opportunity to provide important services to people, rather than focusing on profits alone. Our services benefit everyone equally. When we provide these services in an effective and efficient manner it has a direct impact on the lives of others.
Information Technology should serve as an innovation advisor to the business, and the cloud is just one tool that can be deployed in that advisor role. As with any technology, we need to maintain standardization and centralization in order to maximize gains and ensure compliance with architectural standards. We do that via IT Governance.
I was recently contacted about a survey I had participated in on the topic of Low-code/No-code (LC/NC) tools. I am largely a supporter of LC/NC, which we have utilized for several years with our enterprise content management system (ECM). However, I wanted to be prepared to provide the opposing position, so I did several internet searches. Not for Low or No-code, but for similar forerunner “citizen developer” tools such as Lotus Notes and Microsoft Access.
When working on any project, we often get so focused on the outcome (the shiny objects) that we forget the basics. The most important of these is stakeholder engagement in answering the fundamental question, “What problem are we trying to solve”. Once agreement on the problem definition is reached, then the project roadmap must be developed followed by the project plan. Both of which also must be completed with input from the stakeholders and must include an overview of why we are committing resources to the initiative. The roadmap informs stakeholders of the technical approach, gap analysis, and workflow sequences. The project plan provides a granular view of detailed tasks along with assigned responsibilities and timelines for delivery to track all features of a project.
There is one common theme about technology predictions. They tend to be overly optimistic regarding speed of adoption and benefit. They often begin with the phrase, “within five years.”
Talking to our BSM (Business Service Manager) team a few weeks ago we discussed my favorite topic which is data and data analytics. A state technology magazine mentioned my thoughts about data in a recent article “What makes a good state CIO?”. There was a comment made from a Chief Enterprise Architect on LinkedIn that summed up my views expressed in the article incredibly well, “….all others bring data”. This was a reference to a quote by W. Edwards Deming that every Industrial Engineer and Six Sigma professional should know by heart in which he stated, “In God we trust. All others must bring data”. Data brings context. It facilitates logical thought by making connections from various distinct data points that when organized provide meaningful insight. An insight that allows an organization to objectively evaluate data points to make more informed decisions.
The journey we undertook 5 years ago to move to a Consolidated IT operating model at the State of Nebraska was by all accounts an ambitious goal. Applying the principles of the private sector to the public sector meant overcoming many competing interests. I often asked myself if the tools I had learned in business could be applied to the new environment I was in. The private sector’s entrepreneurial motivation to obtain higher profits through increased cost-efficiency made sense, and achieving these benefits meant standardization. This trade-off meant that agencies, boards, and commissions must accept this value proposition which could only be demonstrated through improved service levels and a clearly documented value proposition of cost-efficiencies. Our success or failure had to be reported, and to that end we have continued to publish our metrics every year. The positive effects of Consolidation which was accomplished in 2017 began our journey of greater customer service. Enhanced efficiencies have been demonstrated utilizing various reporting mechanisms which include in-depth cost-benefit analysis, routine performance metrics, and customer surveys.
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