Note: This is part of a series explaining the department’s Information Technology Transition. Ensuing articles will focus on a new Division of Motor Vehicles technology solution, an upgrade to computer aided drafting, IT modernization projects and the Information Technology governance model.
ITD plans to invest more than $13 million in technology projects during fiscal year 2007. That’s not a significant a departure from the past, but how those funds are allocated is being determined much differently – and more efficiently.
Introduction of the Technology Investment Program (formerly the Technology Improvement Program) last year, brings a more formal, structured approach to the decision-making process and enables the department to better plan its technology budget.
The TIP parallels the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, an extensive five-year planning process used by the Division of Highways to prioritize construction projects.
TIP’s basic charge is to provide a standard, structured method that ensures projects are aligned with the strategic priorities set forth in the Information Strategy Plan. Its four primary goals are:
The concept of a comprehensive technology program dates to 2001, explains manager Nancy McPherson. But over the past year, as the Information Technology Transition nears its conclusion, the new process takes planning and decision-making to a higher level.
“The department now sees technology as an investment, which is a change in thinking. The intent is to ensure that we’re spending money on technology that furthers the goals of the department,” McPherson explains.
All requests for technology projects now follow a clearly outlined process that involves the Enterprise Architecture Group on a conceptual level. Enterprise architects offer assessments on hardware/software needs to ensure that requests are compliant with current Technology standards and determine if and what impact new or upgraded systems will have on current technology infrastructure (i.e. network bandwidth, data storage, etc.)
A formal application, including a project abstract, then becomes part of the Technology Investment Program, with input from the budget council, Information Technology Leadership Team (ITLT) and the TIP Manager. Decisions are based on the department’s Information Strategic Plan (ISP) and System Investment Plans.
Abstracts provide project descriptions, goals/scope, deliverables, funding benefits, risks assessments (both for doing the project and impacts of not doing the project) and business impacts. The request also lists budget requirements, a breakdown of costs (expenditures), a technical profile and personnel needs.
The ITLT, which ultimately is responsible for approving or rejecting proposals, is composed of five individuals from diverse backgrounds. Members are: ITD Director Dave Ekern, Division of Administration Administrator Susan Simmons, Division of Planning Administrator Charles Rountree and Division of Public Transportation Administrator Larry Falkner, and CTO, Liza Fox.
The System Investment Plans are required for approved projects prior to implementation.
Most projects are requested and completed in the same fiscal year, but the TIP also provides an overview of technology projects that require several years for completion.
The TIP, a more detailed processes than used previously, ensures that proposals are well conceived and that impacts on the department are carefully considered early in the process.
“This is an evolving process to make it more efficient,” McPherson said. “We’ve raised the bar on this program. It helps the department know how much we invest in technology and where our technology dollars are being spent.
“The goals have been clarified to reflect the department’s emphasis on the planning process and organizational changes, she adds.