By Chuck Brooks, Vice President and Client Executive, Department of Homeland Security
As we enter 2015, every organization – public or private – has hopefully set their business goals and determined budgets for this business year. And is it any surprise that “do more with less” is once again the mantra for many parts of the public sector?
Agencies dealing with budget cuts are trying to find ways to consolidate procedures into a more effective, streamlined IT system in order to cut down operational costs and increase efficiencies.
Looking beyond cost savings, agencies have also realized that decentralized systems can be a threat to productivity, interagency communication and information sharing, and ultimately constituent service. Without a unified, consolidated system, the public sector becomes fragmented and departments tend to operate as separate entities making decisions without thinking of the larger impact on the agency and government.
IT consolidation within any department or industry can be a daunting task full of unknowns; however here are a few tips IT managers should keep in mind when consolidating services, processes and/or departments:
- Take a step back and include everyone from the beginning: The first step of consolidation is to look at each area of the business and focus on the core competencies and workflows within that area to figure out what can be consolidated. The best way to analyze each area is to include all employees and take their input and feedback to heart so that you can get a better idea of their challenges and needs. Since they are the people that will be most affected, they should be included in the decision making process and feel as though they are part of the solution.
- Don’t lose sight of your strategic focus: Be sure to ask yourself a few questions before you start. What are you trying to accomplish and why? It’s important that the consolidation aligns with the organization’s strategic focus and vision so that outcome improves delivery and supports agency standards.
- It’s not always about the latest and greatest: It’s important to remember that not all IT consolidation means new software and technology. Successful consolidation can also take the form of optimizing and evolving existing technology and processes to fit the need of employees and the changing workplace. You don’t need to have the biggest and best thing on the block, use what you have and what your familiar with.
- Show me the money: Companies should know that an upfront cost is likely before consolidation can begin. Hey, it’s better to know now than later.
- Real results take time: Successful consolidation is not something that happens overnight, therefore be patient and make sure you’re open to making changes along the way.
- Internal and external communication is important: Because consolidation is such a big project, it’s important to find a vendor or partner that is invested before, during and after the project. When you can, it’s great to work with a vendor that can help with consolidation over many different departments so that they can apply best practices to other areas and can use existing systems and programs that have proven to be successful to decrease redundancy and cost.
Consolidation is part of the past, however it still plays a major role in the future of government; therefore it’s critical that both the public and private sector share advice along the way. So, what are some other tips you have for IT professionals when it comes to consolidation?