Do you work for a public authority with yearly IT-costs exceeding 30 million DKK? Then a review with The Agency for Governmental IT services is a mandatory activity, that necessitates both an assessment and a thorough mapping of all levels of your organization.
And that can be a handful, if your authority does not possess the IT-organization’s tech-overview or -approach. Learn from the Road Directorate’s process and dialogue with The Agency for Governmental IT services and discover how you can handle the task and gain full benefits from the initiative.
Do not underestimate the scope of the task
For the Road Directorate, the use of IT-systems was very more seen as a tool to complete tasks and less as an indicator of strategic decisions made across the organization. The review turned out to be a welcome opportunity to optimize on a systems portfolio, that had been accruing technical debt and a fragmented IT-landscape. The result was a far greater overview, improved IT-competencies and a stronger planning- and project level across the organization. But that did not just happen all by itself. 2 fulltime employees spent 9 months getting an overview of the 234 IT systems, which were in use across the entire organization.
Create direction with an objective and a sourcing strategy
With over 200 different IT-systems, they had a large and fragmented IT-landscape at the Road Directorate. And if you are operating with that many systems, it is necessary to prioritize and assess, which of these should be part of the IT-action plan.
For the Road Directorate, this involved reducing the number of mapped IT-systems from 234 to 87 based on their criticality and importance. Using an IT-objective and a sourcing strategy as their starting point, they created a strategic direction for digitalization and IT across the organization.
Overcome your technical debt
Most organizations have accrued some amount of technical debt in their IT-systems. This is no secret.
But the older a system gets, the more expensive it becomes to settle the debt or maintain the system. For the Road Directorate, the IT-action plan uncovered certain challenges with the technical debt, in the form of outdated systems, lacking documentation, along with knowledge and access to the few key people, who can operate and maintain a given system.
Several of the systems were proprietary and person-dependent, so they lacked knowledge sharing between their employees.
Because of this, the Road Directorate now has a more transversal IT-landscape, and they consider how they can use systems within a wider context, instead of only for individual tasks. Moreover, employees are educated and trained, in order to avoid the return of potential bottlenecks.
Take advantage of the dialogue with the Agency for Governmental IT services
The collaboration with the Agency for Governmental IT Services has several benefits, when working with your IT-systems portfolio. The Agency is not just a “court of law”, but also a valuable sparring partner, with concrete recommendations for how you can maintain your newfound overview. The Road Directorate was for example advised to clarify decision paths and responsibility in IT-systems, to reduce the number of parallel initiatives as well as prioritize competence-building among employees. The Road Directorate converted these recommendations into the following concrete initiatives:
- Roles and responsibilities were implemented for all important IT-systems.
- An annual cycle of work was established for the IT-action plan, which included a prioritized approach to efforts and initiatives.
- Competence-building courses for both IT-employees and the Road Directorate’s additional employees were scheduled.
The benefits really make an impact!
The comprehensive work with mapping and the dialogue with the Agency for Governmental IT Services created clear benefits for the Road Directorate. These benefits were of course the shiny, new, overview of the IT-landscape and the roles within it. But, according to CIO, Hanne Sommerfelt, the Road Directorate has also made higher demands of their suppliers – also when it comes to their IT in connection with, for example, entrepreneurial work.
Furthermore, the work has been an exercise in thinking IT across the organization and thereby creating better and broader investments in new IT-systems. In this way, the mapping and review has not just been an obligatory activity, but also a good investment for the Road Directorate as a whole.
How do we know this?
This article is based on the presentation, CIO with the Road Directorate, Hanne Sommerfelt, gave at Peak’s webinar “Portfolio management of state IT-systems”.