Digital transformation in the public sector

By Jeffrey Morgan


I loathe the term digital transformation (DX). Implicit in the term is that there is something technological about it, something digital; a one-time event you can buy or outsource.

I think we should start calling it management transformation (MX). If your management team is doing its job well, the digital transformation never stops. The success or failure of a digital project is a testament to management performance, and digital transformation is a naturally occurring byproduct of excellence in management.

What is digital transformation?

Technology is a means to accomplish business goals, not an end in itself. Unfortunately, much of the extant information on digital transformation identifies technology as the goal. I think this is the wrong approach.

The best definition of digital transformation I have encountered appears in a 2014 MIT Sloan Management Review article and defines it as “the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises.” For the purposes of the discussion that follows, let’s understand that digital transformation is really about improving performance rather than implementing technology.

Take a look at this county technology plan and you’ll find meaningless slogans like, “to be a digital county – ready for today and prepared for tomorrow.” The document is full of buzzwords and comes up short in terms of addressing specific, clearly defined business objectives. Technology is presented as the goal rather than as a vehicle for achieving business objectives. The language always puts technology first, with a vague objective appearing to be an afterthought.

On the other hand, this solid county business plan demonstrates that its management team has a strong understanding of how to achieve business goals and improve performance through the thoughtful application of technology.

Exacerbating the problem are vendors willing to sell their version of DX before explaining that managers must completely reevaluate all their assumptions and processes in order to make a new business solution really deliver value. In organizations where due diligence isn’t a cultural value, the harsh realities of an initiative only see daylight once an iron-clad contract has been signed.

Successful transformation of any kind requires management transformation first. The digital part is easy; the management part is an enormous challenge because managers rarely see themselves as part of the problem. Organizations that pursue technology rather than measurable business objectives are the ones most in need of management transformation.

Some standard scenarios

In one typical scenario, a senior manager wants to replace his or her antiquated enterprise application suite with a new one. In county and municipal agencies, this may mean replacing a 30-year-old midrange system. The business processes on which the current system is based may have roots in the 1950s or earlier and all the business functions rely on indefensible manual processing.

Other scenarios might include just about anything – a 311 system, highly automated zoning and code enforcement, or even something as mundane as reengineering payroll, AR and AP functions.

You sit down at the kickoff meeting and someone, maybe everyone, says, “We want to do everything exactly the same as we do it now; we just want new software.” This isn’t a transformative vision. If your management team shares this attitude, they are overseeing dysfunction and decline rather than leading. Buying a product and expecting performance gains to magically appear is delusional.

The correct way to approach these projects is to identify the business, management, and process problems first, establish goals and objectives, and then start thinking about technological solutions that can meet the business requirements. Technology should come last, not first.

In addition to avoiding change at any cost, many local government agencies overemphasize the role of technology and IT in transformational projects. Digital transformation isn’t a technology initiative; it is a core business initiative and should be managed appropriately with the board and senior management providing leadership, oversight and accountability.

Digital quicksand

Digital projects can quickly become quagmires, the $2.1 billion ACA website being a perfect example. The UK’s National Health Service EHR disaster dwarfed that with a £12.7 billion loss. These losses are frequently blamed on technology, but tech is rarely the problem. Digital project failures are management failures.

I recall one agency that had over 50 concurrent initiatives and projects underway in a single department and they weren’t doing any of them well. As a result, they were throwing boatloads of cash at the problems rather than stepping back and changing their approach by thoughtfully analyzing their objectives and business processes and pursuing a shared vision.

How to get started with management transformation

The MIT Sloan article quoted above identifies nine elements of DX in three major groups: transforming the customer experience, transforming operational processes, and transforming business models and the ideas presented might make a good foundation for your transformation. The authors stop short of telling you how to do it, so I provide the following suggestions for embarking on your own transformational project.

Be brutally honest

Total honesty in management teams is rare, but it’s a requirement to pull off a systemic transformation.

Focus on performance improvement and quality rather than technology

Even the best technology won’t inherently improve performance – that’s the role of management. Figure out how to improve quality and performance. Keep experimenting, brainstorming, and rethinking as you work through the project and don’t compromise until it is absolutely necessary.

Take a holistic view of the entire organization

For your transformational efforts to produce quantifiable results, the management team must share a common vision of what DX will look like in your organization. They need to be able to see the whole picture with all the moving parts in place. The best managers know how to do this, but most managers need to work hard to imagine what a completely transformed operation will look like once the initial transformation cycle is complete.

Understand current and future processes before applying technology

Apply technology only after understanding all your processes, goals and objectives. Your ideal business models and processes should drive technology, not the other way around.

Banish assumptions and sacred cows

In order to be truly transformational, give up all your assumptions about how business gets done and don’t leave changing even a single aspect of your processes and operations off the table.

Are you ready?

Is your management team up to the task? If they are, you probably already have digital transformation happening. If not, start working on your management transformation, first.

© Copyright Jeffrey Morgan, 2018

This article was first published in CIO.com at https://www.cio.com/article/3247305/government/digital-transformation-in-the-public-sector.html

 

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Keep your dirty, stinkin’ hands off my Internet

By Jeffrey Morgan


The politics of net neutrality

Mention net neutrality in a conversation and you’ll get an instant, visceral reaction full of political talking points. You can usually take a pretty fair guess about where a person resides in the political universe based on their net neutrality stance.

Why is this so? And why do we allow politicians to control the dialogue? If you listen to politicians and most news outlets, you would think there are only two sides to the issue – the democrat and the republican side, the liberal and the conservative side, the enlightened and the stupid side. All of the reporting is delivered in fact-free soundbites based on specious, counterfactual arguments about what might happen if big daddy doesn’t step in and ensure fairness.

In my view, there is only one side to this issue – the economic side. In a free society, products and services, winners and losers are chosen by the market (consumers). In societies with less freedom, politicians and bureaucrats choose who wins – usually their classmates from Harvard or Yale.

The term Net Neutrality is deceptive and reminds me a little of Ministry of Truth.  There is nothing neutral about net neutrality. Regulation doesn’t create freedom; regulation, by definition, creates control.  Regulations lead to bakers getting arrested for selling brownies.  Regulation leads to monopolies and higher prices for consumers while keeping innovators out of the market because bootstrap startups can’t afford the high price of entry. Regulations generally deny the existence of inviolable economic laws.

Consumers pay dearly for regulation.

A free Internet

Most people on all sides of the net neutrality issue claim they want a free Internet. What do you think about the following statement?

“One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”

“The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground.”

So, the Internet is dangerous, and it has to be harnessed — by politicians — because it reinforces our biases. Hmm. Can you guess who made the statement quoted above? This doesn’t sound like a free Internet to me; it sounds like one that is tightly controlled by the government.

I suspect that most of the people who claim they want a free Internet are sincere but delusional in the belief that government will provide such freedom. The thought process probably works something like this:

My people are in the White House now, and they know what they’re doing. I trust them to do the right thing.

At best, this is naïve and Pollyannaish. What happens when your people aren’t in office anymore? I am a libertarian and my people are never in office. I don’t want your people deciding what my Internet should look like. Let’s keep the government out of it and let consumers and the market decide.

In the twenty years from 1995 through 2015, world Internet use grew from 16 million users to 3.8 billion. In the United States, between 2000 and 2016 the number of Internet users has grown from 121.87 to 283.7 million users. That growth all happened without regulation under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

This coming year is my 30th anniversary on the Internet. The net has come a long way since I first hopped on in 1988. Back then, it all happened through university mainframe accounts, CompuServe, and GEnie with modems as slow as 2400 baud using telnet sessions. It was still working just fine in 2015 when the FCC decided to reclassify it. The Internet will continue to work just fine without such classification and it will continue to be driven by innovation as long as we can keep sleazy politicians and busy body bureaucrats from transforming it for their own nefarious ends.

Recommended reading

Following are some suggestions for further reading on the subject.

 

© Copyright Jeffrey Morgan, 2018

This article was first published on CIO.com at https://www.cio.com/article/3245390/net-neutrality/keep-your-dirty-stinkin-hands-off-my-internet.html

 

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5 things J.S. Bach can teach you about information security

 

By Jeffrey Morgan


J.S. Bach’s sublime “Fugue in C-sharp-minor,” from Book One of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (BWV 849) was published in 1722. It has five voices and three subjects, so it is a triple fugue. Let’s take a look at what Bach and his excellent work can teach us about building a rock-solid information security program.

1. Keep it simple

The slow and stately four-note subject is simple but pregnant with possibility. Through each iteration and each addition of a new component, the piece becomes a lovely, dense mesh of darkness and light. Ultimately, the thrilling climax can send emotional waves through your body leaving you weeping, emotionally drained and forever changed. Each element is simple in itself, but when combined, an extraordinarily complex web of sound is created.

If your perimeter firewall has 5000 rules, you’re probably doing something wrong, especially if you are a relatively small organization. Likewise, if your policy documents are incomprehensible to the average end user, there is a problem. One IT staff on which I was doing an assessment claimed their policy was secret, and when I finally got hold of it, it turned out it wasn’t a policy at all – it was simply a copy of a federal agency’s policy framework written in govspeak. There was nothing there that would communicate performance and behavioral expectations to management, end users or the IT staff.

Printed music, a score, is simply a set of instructions for a performer. It’s not music until a performer brings it to life. Bach’s scores provide the minimal amount of information required to do just that and they leave a great deal of the interpretation to the performer (assuming good taste and common sense, of course).

Your information security plans and documents are similar; they’re just documents until you bring them to life and put them into practice. In many enterprises, these documents exist only on a shelf and are never used. Dust off those documents if you have them and make sure they have been implemented, followed and enforced. If you don’t have the documents, you had better get to work. Follow Bach’s lead and keep it all as simple as possible. Don’t count on common sense, though.

2. Layers

Bach chose a five-layer framework for this fugue. How many layers does your security program have? Comprehensive policy, procedures, guidelines, technical controls, administrative controls, physical controls, awareness and training are all part of the mix.

The common mistake I have seen in audits is that organizations often depend on only one layer – technical controls. Many security programs, probably in the majority of enterprises, consist of a firewall and some antivirus software but policy, procedure, guidelines and training are often non-existent. If you depend on technical controls alone, your score is 80-90% incomplete.

3. Resilience

Musicians learn resilience, often the hard way, as soon as they begin doing recitals. The only way to be prepared for anything is to over-practice and over-rehearse so that no matter what happens, your fingers keep going even if your brain shuts down. You have a great amount of time to prepare, but only one chance to get it right when it actually counts.

Practicing and planning for the inevitable information disaster is the only way to survive it. If you’ve done this well, you can keep performing without anyone but an expert noticing the glitch. If you do it badly, the show is interrupted and you may never get a second chance.

4. Continuous improvement

A good music teacher shows you how to practice using mindfulness rather than rote repetition. Each iteration should be made better than the last by analyzing every aspect of what you’re doing. Walter Giesking wrote about this sort of approach in his book and he might be considered music’s version of W. Edwards Deming.

What sort of program for continuous improvement do you have in place? It doesn’t happen by itself unless you had a great teacher, coach or mentor. Great performers analyze every aspect of every performance and do a root cause analysis so they don’t make the same mistakes again. Well run organizations and great managers do the same, but the majority keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. Public humiliation in front of colleagues and coworkers doesn’t often seem to be a motivating factor in the business world, but it definitely is in the world of musical performance.

5. Listen

Listen to the voice of your network and your end users and pay attention to logs and metrics. Too many IT directors are tone deaf to the voices of their customers and I have seen many organizations that pay no attention to security logs and metrics at all.  They can’t distinguish between the sound of a perfectly tuned network and an out-of-tune one. Don’t be that patronizing, know-it-all ass of a CIO – listen to everything and everyone.

If you are unfamiliar Bach’s c-sharp-minor masterwork, you can listen to Hélène Grimaud’s performance in which the fugue begins at about 3:15. For a different approach, Sir András Schiff’s version begins at about 2:40. There is no accounting for taste and everyone has their favorite.

If you are fascinated by the music and want to learn more, my favorite recording of the entire set is Angela Hewitt’s, which is part of my car mix for long trips. If you are new to Bach, it can be a life-changing experience.

If you want to improve your information security program, there are numerous resources from which to choose. IS0/IEC 27000, NIST, and COBIT 5 for Information Security all provide great starting points. Which is your favorite?

© Copyright Jeffrey Morgan, 2017

This article was first published on CIO.com at https://www.cio.com/article/3240972/data-protection/5-things-js-bach-can-teach-you-about-information-security.html

 

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Whatever happened to the Christmas pageant?

By Jeffrey Morgan


In the Meditations, Marcus Aurelius advised his readers to stay away from public schools, which proves that the writings of dead white guys are still relevant today.

I was fortunate that my parents heeded this advice.  My sisters and I never set foot in a public school, except for three unbearably long days in Pompano Beach in 1970.  Once you’ve gotten a taste for the private sector version of a thing, the government version will never be tolerable — even if you are only nine years old.  No matter how often we moved up and down the east coast during our upbringing, my parents always found decent private schools in which to enroll us.

What those schools all had in common was some sort of Christian affiliation — whether it was Quaker, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, and even one Baptist school briefly.  There was never an expectation that one become a Christian, but there was always an assumption that students would attend the required religious services and respect the foundational Judeo-Christian values.  That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask and plenty of Jewish students as well as the occasional Hindu and Muslim attended as well.

My most vivid memories of those days are of the annual Christmas Pageants.  In Christian private schools, those reenactments of the birth of Christ, as told by Luke, take the form of a dramatic oratorio.  They were lavish productions that included beautiful costumes, readings from the bible and the singing of hymns and carols.  We rehearsed for weeks and everyone participated.

On the night of the pageant, just before Christmas break, the auditorium was full of parents, grandparents, and other relatives dressed in their most respectable attire.  There were no cell phones to interrupt, no fights, and no protesters shouting down the performance.  There were no victims.  Regardless of their race or faith, no one declined to participate because the parents and students all saw the value that a private education with a Judeo-Christian foundation could provide.

Every family valued knowledge, learning, and education.  Every family valued work and aspired to a middle class lifestyle, or maybe just a little better.  Every parent wanted their children to be better than themselves, and not just financially; they wanted their children to be better people.  At that time, and in that society, no one was interested in emulating crude, low-class behavior and such conduct would certainly have been shunned.

As the lights dimmed, and a palpable hush fell over the audience, a spotlight shone on the actors as the narrator read from the bible.  Even the babies were quiet.  Narration was followed by interludes in which the choir sang ancient European tunes.  Singing those hymns, I could feel the connection to my ancient ancestors celebrating the birth of Christ by candlelight, without computers, electricity, plumbing or heat.  Those ancient people, Celts in my case, celebrated the joy of life and God, though even the wealthiest of them had nothing by our current standards.

Forty five years later, I can still recall the visceral reaction — the lump in my throat and the tears welling up as the pageant proceeded — with all of us sixth graders in precious costumes reenacting a 2,000 year old event.

The story, so beautifully translated in the King James Version still creates an up welling of emotion in me and I am not a Christian.  My best teachers and professors, mostly Catholic and Jewish intellectuals always correctly identified me as a pagan (the small p kind).  Although my sisters both adopted Catholicism later in life, I never have.  Lack of faith doesn’t diminish the simple beauty of Luke’s Nativity story a bit.

Do they still do Christmas pageants anymore? I don’t know. My children are grown.  My baby girl is 25, a soldier, and a jumpmaster in the army.  All of my children attended Catholic schools because they were the only private schools available in the rural area in which I raised them.  I had to make sure they received an education that would teach them about western civilization and Judeo-Christian values.  It was worth every penny.

I feel a little sad for people who will never experience their own connections to their ancestral heritage, western civilization, the world, and the universe because they received a purely secular education.  Public education purposely omits such a huge portion of western culture from the curriculum that I fear the recipients can never learn what they need to become truly civilized human beings.  While many may get this through church, synagogue or in some other extracurricular venue, a significant part of the population is missing out completely.  Without the knowledge that there is something greater, without the understanding that universal truths do exist, how can you ever see life as being anything other than nasty, brutish, and short?

Lacking the sacred point of view, authoritarian rule becomes a necessity and the means to all ends are always justified. Maybe this makes the twentieth century democide of as many as 260,000,000 humans easier to understand.  I suspect that secular education is also responsible for the SJW worldview that sees a mostly full glass as completely empty.  The angst, anger, vitriol, and downright hate voiced by so many in our society can only be explained as a lack of education and perspective.

The current, rampant rejection and denial of Judeo-Christian culture, especially in universities is also a mystery to me.  Across the planet, and especially in the west, we enjoy the highest standard of living ever known.  I don’t understand how an educated person can refute the connection between millennia of intellectual achievement and our current prosperity.

From the Old Testament to the New, from Aristotle to Aquinas, and Locke, from Josquin and Palestrina to Bach, from Breughel to Leonardo, Michelangelo, and beyond, this collective knowledge is what has led us to our current understanding of humanity.  The shared achievements of western civilization, and particularly of Christianity, have led us to embrace human rights and improve the living conditions of billions of humans.  Ultimately, it is what got us to the moon and gave us the IPhone.  Is this even debatable?

For better or for worse, Judeo-Christian culture is how we got here – and it seems better to me. The values, ethics, and morals that have been passed on for the last few thousand years have built the incredible standard of living we have today across the globe.  Only a few decades ago, this was universally acknowledged, but we seem to have entered a new, dark age where knowledge, culture, and history have been eschewed.

The darkness of totalitarian rule always seems as if it could be upon us at the next turn and the disturbing penchant of millennials for socialism and communism frightens me.  To me, the only explanation for this seemingly invincible ignorance is that it is the inevitable result of a poor education, especially in morals, ethics and values.

I don’t have a solution, but a reboot of our education system that includes a return to teaching Judeo-Christian ideas might be a good start.

© Copyright Jeffrey Morgan, 2017

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Information Security for Executives and Managers

Information Security for Executives and Managers

Who: Non-IT Executives and Managers – public, private and non-profit sectors.

What: Information Security Training

When: Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 12:00 PM eastern time.

How long: The training is 30 minutes, but I am leaving an extra 30 minutes for questions and discussion.

Where: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/614306101

Cost: Free! There is nothing to buy, no sales pitch, and no upsell.

Click on the link below to register! Attendance is limited to 25 on a first come, first served basis. When you register, I will send you a calendar invitation.

 

 

What you will learn.

  1. What is the single, deadly assumption executives and managers make about their information security programs?
  2. What free resources are available to build a rock solid information security program?
  3. What are the required building blocks of an information security program?
  4. Who should be on your information security team? It’s not who you think!
  5. What’s the difference between Cybersecurity and Information Security?

Register now for the live, web seminar – December 12, 12:00 PM Eastern time.

 

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Is your organization practicing voodoo infosec?

 

Information Security – Cybersecurity Training for Executives and Managers

Is your organization practicing voodoo information security? Would you like to learn how to build a solid information/cybersecurity program for your organization?

In this free, live web training session we show you how to build an Information Security Program from the point of view of non-IT executives and managers. The training is applies to County and Municipal Government executives and managers, small and medium business owners, and non-profit managers. There is no technical knowledge required and there is no sales pitch or upsell – just high-quality training where we show you how to build a comprehensive information security program from the ground up.

The class is limited to 25 attendees on a first come, first served basis. Can’t make it at this time? e-mail jmorgan@e-volvellc.com and I will send you a schedule of additional times the training will be held in December.

This is a GoToMeeting session and details are contained in the calendar link below.

Wednesday 11/29 12:15, Eastern time.

Add to your calendar now!

 

 

 

How to join the training session:

Join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
Wednesday 11/29 12:15, Eastern time.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/897255061

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (872) 240-3412

Access Code: 897-255-061

First GoToMeeting? Let’s do a quick system check: https://link.gotomeeting.com/system-check

 

 

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Information Security for Executives & Managers

 

Information Security – Cybersecurity Training for Executives and Managers

Do concerns about information security keep you awake at night? Would you like to learn how to build a solid information/cybersecurity program for your organization?

In this free, live web training session we show you how to build an Information Security Program from the point of view of non-IT executives and managers. The training is applies to County and Municipal Government executives and managers, small and medium business owners, and non-profit managers. There is no technical knowledge required and there is no sales pitch or upsell – just high-quality training where we show you how to build a comprehensive information security program from the ground up.

The class is limited to 25 attendees on a first come, first served basis. Can’t make it at this time? e-mail jmorgan@e-volvellc.com and I will send you a schedule of additional times the training will be held in December.

This is a GoToMeeting session and details are contained in the calendar link below.

Wednesday 11/29 12:15, Eastern time.

Add to your calendar now!

 

 

 

How to join the training session:

Join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
Wednesday 11/29 12:15, Eastern time.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/897255061

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (872) 240-3412

Access Code: 897-255-061

First GoToMeeting? Let’s do a quick system check: https://link.gotomeeting.com/system-check

 

 

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Webinars for behavioral health executives and professionals

Signup for one of our new, live web workshops for behavioral health executives and professionals!

These live, informative 6o-minute workshops are tailored for behavioral health professionals in public and private sector clinical practices. Up to 3 of your team members may attend for one low price and each workshop is tailored for your organizational requirements.

HIPAA Security Rule Compliance for Behavioral Health Professionals – $250

Does your organization’s security policy contain all 37 policies required by the HIPAA Security Rule, 45 CFR Parts 160, 162 and 164? Most county and smaller clinics are not compliant and a large part of compliance requirements fall on your IT staff. Are they doing their part?

We begin with an open discussion about your HIPAA concerns and walk you through the major components of HIPAA Security Rule compliance in order to identify your organization’s risks. We work directly from the authoritative primary source – the regulation text, address your questions about requirements and make specific recommendations you can use to get compliant.

Bring your information security policy to the webinar and we will address specific policies in your organization.

Information Risk Management for Behavioral Health Professionals – $250

Have you ever conducted an information risk assessment? It is required component of HIPAA and other regulations, and it is a recommended best practice for organizations of all sizes and types. We walk you through a high-level risk assessment, identify threats and vulnerabilities specific to your business and provide you with tools to continue the assessment on your own.

Managing Behavioral Health IT Services – $250

Are the IT services you receive spectacular and perfectly aligned with your business and clinical requirements? Or are there constant fires to put out?

We discuss basic best practices for IT management from the point of view of non-IT executives, describe basic components of IT service management, cover SLAs, OLAs service catalogs, and more. We address your concerns and propose solutions you can begin to implement immediately in order to align IT services with your business and clinical objectives, industry standards and improve the quality of services. If you are not satisfied with the IT services you receive, we can show you how to improve them.

Electronic Health Records Procurement and Implementation – $250

Are you planning an EHR Procurement project? These projects have a high failure rate and organizations are frequently unhappy with the return on investment (ROI) and the total cost of ownership (TCO). Huge budget overruns are common and implementations can be years behind schedule.

We provide strategies for the procurement, migration and implementation of an EHR so you can increase the probability of a successful project.

 

 

 

 

Ask about our onsite workshops for your entire staff.

Don’t see what you need? Ask us for custom training or consulting!

 

 

 

 

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Workshops for county and municipal executives


New web workshops. These five team workshops are designed for county and municipal executives and SMB managers. Register Now!

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How Nebraska successfully consolidated state IT services

By Jeffrey Morgan


Consolidating government IT services

If you read my post, Municipal shared services agreements for information technology, you know that I am skeptical about consolidation of multiple county and municipal IT operations. Because they are separate, independent business operations, the potential for unintended consequences, political meddling and perverse incentives is enormous. Another core problems is that very few counties or municipalities operate IT shops using widely accepted standards and frameworks for ITSM (Information Technology Service Management).

State governments, however, more closely resemble large corporate enterprises and there is a strong business case for the consolidation of IT services in such organizations. Elimination of redundant services, lower costs, and a smaller head count are essential goals, but consolidation can also provide uniform governance as well as enhanced quality and customer service if managed correctly.

Culture shock

During Ed Toner’s first week as CIO for the state of Nebraska in June of 2015, he found silos, duplication of tools and services, competition between IT groups and a culture that desperately needed change. A dearth of documentation and metrics presented significant challenges, but his education at Texas A&M in process improvement, ITIL and Six Sigma provided him with the tools to take on this type of task. Moreover, his previous ITSM experience with TD Ameritrade and First Data Corporation gave him the practical experience required for the job.

Ed reports directly to Governor Pete Ricketts and he began his consolidation of the state’s IT services in March of 2016. Six months of analysis lead him to the conclusion that a classic ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) model was the best approach to lowering the cost of state-level IT services. Ed has taken what he describes as a soft-sell, carrot-without-a-stick approach to the project.

During my research, I discovered that Ed and I have a single, irreconcilable philosophical difference, but I will discuss that at the end. First, let’s take a look at how Ed implemented some essential ITIL components.

The rollout

The project was rolled out in three phases in the following order:

  1. IT Infrastructure (Network)
  2. Server Admins
  3. Desktop support

In the first phase, the Nebraska OCIO (Office of the CIO) brought everyone into a single domain and in the second phase they migrated 6000 square feet of remote data closets into the data center. Phase three is in progress and will be completed within a few weeks, so Ed has achieved remarkable results in only 16 months.

Enterprise applications were also included in the consolidation. OCIO manages the infrastructure and largely leaves the application functions up to the Line of Business (LoB) to manage. This is an admirable model because it doesn’t put IT in the line of fire for determining and managing LoB application features and functionality.

The service catalog (SC)

Since Ed and his team entered into the project with neither documentation nor metrics, they opted to grow the service catalog organically from incoming calls.

The service level agreement (SLA)

When Ed started, no one could tell him how many IRs (incident records) and SRs (service requests) were coming in, but that has been completely turned around. “In terms of the user community, I think for the first time, they’re seeing that we’re being accountable. We’re posting metrics and we just started sending out surveys.” Ed’s team also publishes statistics on availability and their goal is 99.9 to 99.99.

Ed and his team meet weekly to analyze stats and their internal SLA is to satisfy 80% of IRs within 24 hours. They routinely meet that objective and report the data to the governor on a monthly basis. Their goal for SRs is to complete them within 24 hours 65% of the time.

As they mature, they are working on categorizing and prioritizing different classes of IRs to provide an SLA with resolution of specific IRs within 4 hours or less.

Change management

“We are seeing a huge uptick in changes, which means to me that we’re not making more changes in the state, we’re seeing more and more compliance every month.”

In terms of adoption of change management, Ed related, “I can tell you from my vantage point that the state of Nebraska adopted it much more easily than in my past in private industry. If something happens that causes some type of outage, even momentarily, we’re going to come in with problem management. The problem management template we created clearly asks, was this caused by a change? Did you validate? How did you validate? We have built in those fail-safe checkpoints that will indicate if a group has done a change that wasn’t sanctioned.”

Problem management and Root Cause Analysis

Every PR (problem record) is reviewed by the OCIO. ”We have a defined process for escalating issues. Those go into PR and no one wants to have a PR against their group. A problem record means we’re going to have a root cause analysis and were going to find out they made a change that didn’t go through change management. Problem management has helped to enforce change management because they know there’s another level of irritation from my office if the change didn’t go through change management.”

Cost savings

The Nebraska CIO’s office has been able to realize annual savings in excess of $2.8 million on payroll and contracts by eliminating all contractors in infrastructure and desktop support as well as by eliminating staff positions by attrition. “I have no IT infrastructure contractors at the state . . . No contractors doing server admin or desktop support.”

Server consolidation has helped realize $3.2 million annually in hardware savings. For instance, in one division they reduced 90 servers to four virtual servers and have eliminated over 70 physical servers in DHHS so far.

The state initially had three ITSM tools with multiple contracts for those tools, so Ed deployed an unused tool which they were already paying for in their application bundle and eliminated the redundant contracts.

The last word

Nebraska has done all the right things when it comes to building a solid IT service management program. Critical components include executive support and oversight from the CEO, a solid ITSM framework, transparency, and a CIO who is committed to the delivery of exceptional service and quality. Extraordinary managers all have one thing in common – they know that improving quality using rigorous processes reduces costs. How is your state doing?

I told you earlier that Ed and I have one irreconcilable difference of opinion, but it’s a whopper! Ed is an Aggie and I am a Longhorn. Hook ‘em horns, Ed.

 

 

© Copyright Jeffrey Morgan, 2017

 

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