This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Your Government Digital Transformation Playbook: Managing the People, Processes and Technology.” Download the full guide here.
IT modernization is necessary to deliver enhanced functionality, security and efficiency to government employees and the citizens they serve. Now is an especially important time for agencies to modernize, considering the recent passage of the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which puts a fund and process in place to support federal modernization initiatives.
But in order for agencies at all levels to take full advantage of all modernization has to offer, they have to be strategic. In an interview with GovLoop, Chris Borneman, Chief Technology Officer, and David Taylor, Vice President of State and Local Solutions at Software AG, discussed how agencies can plan their digital transformation journey to ensure IT aligns to mission need. The experts recommend creating a modernization strategy, inventorying your current IT assets, procuring the right tools and partnering with trusted industry advisers.
The first step in your digital transformation journey should be creating a modernization strategy to ensure your IT aligns with your agency mission. “By defining what success looks like, what the key indicators of success are, and if they’ll give you the results you’re seeking, IT leaders can use these to manage their modernization initiatives and communicate with stakeholders,” Borneman said. Involving key stakeholders during this initial phase can give you a better idea of what they want out of the project and set expectations early.
It’s also critical that your agency has a shared vision of what transformation should look like. “Picture what your transformation end state should look like if it was ‘right,’” Taylor said. “Then develop a strategy that moves you incrementally closer to that target.”
The next step is inventorying your current IT assets. According to Borneman it’s important to “understand what your current systems and capabilities are and where spend goes.” This allows you to identify opportunities for improvement. An IT portfolio management solution is particularly helpful during this stage, as it allows you to run IT like a business by evaluating your assets, returns on investment and risk to make the best decisions possible.
In state and local agencies, portfolio management is too often considered a “nice to have” functionality. Cost, complexity and insufficient staff resources are the reasons offered for this. But taking stock of your agency’s IT assets is a critical next step after you’ve designed your modernization strategy.
Once you have a better understanding of your current assets, you can decide on the right tools to help you achieve your agency’s modernization goals. “Tools, particularly around IT portfolio management, need to be able to support good data that is consistent so everyone is on the same page,” Borneman said. “Your data also needs to be dynamic, to keep pace with your ever-changing IT environment, and shareable, so there’s one source of truth.” As you’re generating more and more data, make sure that you’re sharing it in a way that your various audiences can understand. For example, the data that the head of your department is interested in might be different than the data that’s relevant for system users.
To aid in the process of procuring the right tools for modernization, consider partnering with an experienced industry adviser. For a successful partnership, have them create a thorough proof of concept to demonstrate what they’re offering will solve your needs. Borneman and Taylor caution against “trying to boil the ocean” but instead encourage agencies to slowly ramp up deployment. This results in an improved product that is more likely to be accepted by your internal team and citizens alike. “The best solutions are ones where the agency can maintain and scale it themselves using existing staff resources,” Taylor said.
As your agency embarks on its digital transformation journey and procures new technologies, it’s important to ensure your existing systems can sync with your new cloud-based systems, and there’s a strategy for future system growth and updating. With an adaptable and agnostic technology layer, like Software AG’s digital business platform, you can leverage and reuse many of your agency’s current assets, while enjoying the freedom to install new technologies into your environment quickly. This way, you can easily make your existing IT systems more effective and integrated and unite people, processes and technology with a proven methodology for digital transformation.
With the right strategy and by aligning IT to the mission needs of your agency, you can leverage the most of modernization and, ultimately, government digital transformation.