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Solving the Issue of IT Sprawl

Let’s be honest: we’ve all had the abysmal chore of attempting to assemble what seems like a deceptively simple piece of Ikea furniture. At the store, the pieces seemed like they fit together so intuitively – now you’re at home, and things are a complete struggle. Now, imagine that the obscure instructions manual and entire process was that much more difficult to traverse. That the pages of the instruction manual were each stapled in different packets, each one in a different location – and each step needing to be read by a different person. Already cumbersome, the process would become exponentially inefficient, lengthy and uncertain to properly construct that table you really thought would be a simple go of it.

As a result, any attempt to create the table might be done without the necessary materials, leaving it open to issues like damage or incompletion.

In essence, it’s quite simple – even in the world of furniture building – to allow obsolete processes to rule your time.

That process is similar to many of the IT solutions taking place in government today. Disparate vendors and technologies are creating an environment where solutions are siloed, equipment is underused, and nobody can keep track of the multiple layers of IT issues and technologies going on.

There’s a simple phrase for that: IT sprawl.

In short, IT sprawl happens when information is siloed, disparate applications are deployed, and there are a huge number of separate IT systems to manage and support. Typically, IT procurement has been focused simply on getting the best price and terms for items that are easily definable – but IT purchases often don’t fit that. Instead, information technology is a solution: a set of products, consulting and support services, and process developed specifically for the agency.

How is government impacted by IT sprawl?

With a shift toward more autonomous (and IT-savvy) units pursuing their own solutions for specific needs, more and more of the public sector is suffering from IT sprawl. For CIOs, multiple, disparate applications mean more vendors to work with and pay, more products to upgrade, and more systems to maintain, secure and protect.

Without sustainable strategies, agencies are subjected to a number of information silos and disparate applications supported – whether or not deployed – on premise or in the cloud. As a result of using a portfolio of separate, acquired products for your agency’s IT strategy, there are multiple siloed applications, multiple databases and document repositories, and multiple applications to upgrade – with different upgrade cycles. On top of that, there are multiple systems to secure, multiple architectures to protect from disaster, custom code required to integrate applications with each other – and individualized deployment considerations.

Considering the amount of confidential information siloed in these obsolete solutions, security breaches are inevitable – and there needs to be a way to face those, while ensuring more efficient IT strategies. Government agencies have too much at stake to keep their information separate and inaccessible, more susceptible to hacking and breaches.

On top of that, purchasing staff have a big problem when it comes to optimizing and maintaining IT procurement expertise. The growing numbers of IT services adoption, rather than hardware or software purchases, means developing a better understanding of service pricing and delivery models, as well as the right funding allocations.

It’s no wonder that the public sector is looking to rationalize applications and seek platforms to help eliminate this sprawl and the resulting information silos.

By consolidating one-off solutions and leveraging a common platform for business applications across the enterprise, government IT leaders can reduce costs, streamline operations and, ultimately, provide better service to citizens.

So, what needs to be done?

By utilizing a sustainable IT strategy, agencies can minimize current issues. Recognized as an enterprise content management (ECM) market leader, OnBase from Hyland has drastically changed the landscape for IT sprawl and centralization. Rather than an aggregated hodge-podge of departmentally scattered point solutions, OnBase creates a central IT infrastructure that delivers capabilities way beyond basic paperless filing and routing. Additionally, there are a series of benefits that are recognized once a solution is built.

With OnBase, agencies get one platform supporting an unlimited number of content-enabled applications, one application to upgrade – and one system to secure. On top of that, only one database and shared document repository needs to be protected from breaches and disaster, and agencies only need to deal with a single point of integration for existing infrastructure. Lastly, multiple deployment options including cloud, on-premise or hybrid allows for a flexibility that employees on the go can easily tap into.

It’s easy to empower your agency to manage key documents and information from a single source, giving employees the freedom to focus on important initiatives, projects and assignments instead of data management. Without an understanding of IT sprawl, however, all that slows to a halt – damaging IT operations in the process. With one system, the solution is clear and simple – now, it’s up to agencies to seek integration and implementation.

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