[Note: This is the third part of a series explaining the department’s Information Technology Transition. Ensuing articles will focus on a new Division of Motor Vehicles technology solution, IT modernization projects and the Information Technology governance model.]
A major upgrade of the department’s computer aided design and drafting (CADD) system is one of the first technology programs to emerge from the new Technology Investment Plan.
Although the upgrade was included as a Legislative decision unit in 2003, it formally became part of the new process of acquiring technology solutions last year, explains project manager Ray Oldham.
The department sought and received authority from the Legislature for $475,000. The overall project cost is about $600,000, including specialized training required to prepare employees for using the software suite.
ITD has been using the design/drafting software since 1983, but hasn’t upgraded the suite in six years. Oldham said ITD is about six versions behind in some applications, forcing most design consultants to downgrade their projects to ensure compatibility.
“They have to ‘dummy-down’ their projects so we
can work with them,” he said.
Most state transportation departments and private-sector designers and consulting firms use the Bentley package, Oldham said.
When installation of the new software is completed, ITD will be compatible with nearly all of its consultants and contractors. The upgrade also will enable the department to move toward electronic bidding.
“The value is in the data, not the paper,” Oldham explained. ITD will be able to utilize this data through the entire project life cycle.
ITD tries to upgrade CADD workstations every four years on a rotational basis. Two of those upgrades will be accomplished before the introduction of the new software suite.
The major upgrade will be completed in two phases, the first of which was a workflow study that included on-site interviews in each district and Headquarters and on-line screening, a technical report, a management report and implementation plan. The second phase, which began this week, includes software configuration and completion of ITD’s CADD standards, followed by software installation and training.
Oldham said about 70 employees have registered for the InRoads training, which represents a radically new process. Training will be comprehensive, from start to finish. The MicroStation training assumes a good working knowledge of the software and system, which are not drastically different than previous versions. Approximately 120 employees have registered for the training.
Ten MicroStation classes and six InRoads classes already have been scheduled, along with three survey classes and two advanced InRoads classes. All training will be given on-site in the districts and at Headquarters by Bentley representatives. While training takes place, technicians will upgrade individual computers so employees can move directly from the classroom to their workstations.
Oldham worked with ITD’s enterprise architects and Corporate IT to design the system upgrade and prepare it for the TIP program. Aside from a few small “bumps,” the process has gone very smoothly, he said. “It actually has worked quite well. It forces you to look at everything from beginning to end.”