NC IT Roadmap - Technology for Digital-age Government

NC IT Roadmap: Technology for Digital-age Government

To transform government for the digital age, we need to embrace new approaches and methodologies and establish strong technical foundation with the flexibility to adapt and incorporate disruptive technologies as they emerge.

To do this, we must fully leverage the people, process, and technology at our fingertips. We need to develop strong relationships with agency leadership and a better understanding of our end-users' needs. We must also create intergovernmental collaboration opportunities with local, state, and federal partners, and strengthen relationships with university and vendor partners. To that end, we are undertaking the following efforts:

Establish an IT Strategy Board for the State

Establish an IT Strategy Board for the State

We have worked hard to open lines of communication between IT and the lines of business in the State. We will work to recreate an Information Technology Strategy Board to advise the State Chief Information Officer and help set the State’s priorities and strategic direction for the use of information technology to solve problems in education, health care, economic development, and other sectors of State government. 

The proposed IT Strategy Board will advise the State CIO on policies and procedures, annually update a statewide technology plan, establish committees to drive development around such priority areas as cybersecurity and data governance, adopt guidelines on project planning and management and information sharing, and assist the State CIO in making recommendations for policies and investments to the Governor and the General Assembly. We recommend that the State CIO chair the board, with principal-level representation from the executive branch, the UNC and community college systems, and the private sector. If the Board is created by statute, its membership could include legislative appointees with oversight or appropriations responsibilities for information technology.

IT Optimization

IT Optimization

In 2015, the NC General Assembly passed legislation requiring DIT to manage most of the “enterprise information technology functions” in the executive branch. Unless otherwise exempt in legislation, the law requires most IT professionals currently working in state government agencies to work in service of their original agencies as employees of DIT.

DIT’s Optimization effort follows a nationwide IT consolidation trend, working toward a more cohesive approach to the state’s IT challenges by providing consistent, effective and high-quality IT services to state agencies. At the completion of the initiative, the expectation is one of greater IT productivity and agility, as well as a more comprehensive and efficient IT spend statewide.

We are optimizing our IT resources in two phases. Phase I, currently underway, encompasses the transition of IT employees under a single agency. To date, we have successfully optimized over 700 IT positions under DIT. Phase II efforts will focus on the analysis of business operations and processes to ensure the most effective and efficient use of IT resources. During this phase, we will also implement a new financial model where DIT will assume full budgetary authority of the transitioned IT resources and operations.   

 

Develop Partnerships and Leverage Expertise

Develop Partnerships and Leverage Expertise

“I fully believe in partnerships because the more expertise we have around the table, the better off the state will be."

- J. Eric Boyette, Secretary of NCDIT and State CIO

We are fortunate to have a robust university and community college system in our state, along with many strong local government entities with which we can partner. We intend to leverage the vast experience and expertise in these institutions. Below are some of the ways in which we are looking to partner: 

  • Develop internships with educational entities that will allow us to gain expertise from the universities and community colleges, leverage the talent of the students, and improve the pipeline of potential qualified staff 
  • Partner with our universities to identify and address strategic initiatives
  • Continue to partner with local governments to share geospatial data
  • Create an environment where local governments can share knowledge and experiences on Smart City and other innovative initiatives
Enable Employee Collaboration

Enable Employee Collaboration

Communities of Practice: We have created several communities of practice (CoPs) which has opened lines of communication across agencies. This has made it easier to share best practices and lessons learned. Not only do these CoPs create an environment for knowledge sharing, but they also provide opportunities for our practitioners to expand their skills and focus on career development. Current CoPs include Business Analysis, Digital Services, Project Management, Process Improvement, Architecture, Microsoft PowerBI, Microsoft Dynamics, and CIOs. The CoPs are open to local governments (e.g. City of Raleigh is a member of the PowerBI CoP) to further collaboration efforts across a wider knowledge base. We will create new CoPs as needs are identified. 

Collaboration Tools: Modern collaboration tools allow government employees to collaborate better with each other and with the people we serve. Platforms such as SharePoint, Microsoft TEAMS, Chat, Skype, Slack, and Webex provide better opportunities for content sharing, real-time communication, and real-time document modification. This enables us to leverage our knowledge, skills, and abilities more productively across the State. 

Develop an Agile Culture

Develop an Agile Culture

Highly popular in the private sector, "agile" is an iterative development practice that delivers solutions with rapid turnaround times, seeking frequent feedback and encouraging collaboration across organizational units. As much a mindset as a methodology, we have embraced agile practices to meet agency and end-user needs more quickly and efficiently while lowering risk of poorly designed solutions. Several of our State agencies, including the Digital Solutions section of the Department of Information Technology (DIT), have been successful at adopting agile methodologies for project execution and service delivery. However, agile transformation is more than just a project execution process. 

Creating an agile culture incorporates services, policy-making, finance, and human resources. In order to transform and more efficiently and effectively address our customers, we need to be agile with a customer-centric focus, developing an environment that enables us to respond to change quickly and effectively. An agile culture will enrich our technology services with increased business value, higher customer satisfaction, improved quality, and transparency. We have established an Agile Transformation project that will assess and provide recommendations for creating an agile culture in our government.

Enable a DevOps Approach

Enable a DevOps Approach

Development Operations (DevOps) practices enable an organization to be more efficient, nimble, and responsive to meet business needs. Like the agile concept, DevOps is as much a mindset that is centered on collaboration and streamlining technical processes that typically span multiple organizational units. Gartner defines DevOps "as a change in IT culture, focusing on rapid IT service delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-oriented approach. DevOps emphasizes people (and culture), and seeks to improve collaboration between operations and development teams." 

DevOps practices, philosophies, and tools will benefit the delivery of applications and platform solutions across the enterprise. Over time, we expect that that practices such as continuous deployment, automated testing, secure, shared code repositories, and increased collaboration between developers and Ops (particularly cloud-native system admins) will increase our velocity for delivering products and solutions for the business. 

A shift to DevOps approaches will require us to rethink processes, policies, and standards, such as change management controls, while ensuring that solutions and services continue to be delivered securely, consistently, with changes effectively communicated.

Leverage the State’s IT Professional Services to Improve Outcomes

Leverage the State’s IT Professional Services to Improve Outcomes

Many of our agencies have incorporated IT professional services like project management and business analysis into their projects, significantly improving the solutions we implement. Incorporating these and other services, like process improvement, solution architecture, and quality assurance testing into all of our IT projects will further streamline business processes and improve our technical solutions. We are leveraging communities of practice to share expertise in these areas, and will continue to provide project management, process improvement, and business analysis training to enhance the skillsets of our employees.

Improve IT Procurement

Improve IT Procurement

In fiscal year 2018, more than $581 million in IT procurements passed through our central IT procurement office. Our contracting methods have not kept pace with changes in the industry, resulting in inefficient, duplicative contracts and solutions. We are modernizing the way our Statewide IT Procurement Office functions to align with industry trends so that we can better manage our contracts and ultimately make better purchasing decisions. 

We are changing the way Statewide IT Procurement engages with agencies for IT procurements - getting involved earlier in the procurement and staying involved throughout the process. 

We are also revisiting our standard contract language to make sure that it is strong enough to protect the state and our data while being easy to understand. 

Lastly, we are building a central repository of all IT contracts so that we can see what we have and when it is up for renewal. This will help us reduce contract and solution duplication, and will lay the foundation for improved contract performance monitoring. We will start with all DIT contracts in a SharePoint repository, but will use the state's eProcurement system or IT Service Management (ITSM) tool for expansion.

Implement and Leverage the State’s Enterprise Portfolio Management Tool 

Implement and Leverage the State’s Enterprise Portfolio Management Tool 

A clear understanding of the State’s IT portfolio is key to develop sound IT investment strategies. We have procured an Enterprise Portfolio Management Tool (EPMT) to support a complete IT portfolio management approach for the State’s IT investments, and to manage application and infrastructure portfolios. The EPMT is a central repository that provides better visibility into agency needs, plans, and existing capabilities. The data housed in the EPMT will be analyzed to make objective and transparent decisions around investing, consolidating, modernizing, or replacing applications, ultimately reducing duplicative effort and spend where innovative, unified solutions could better serve the citizens. We will work with agencies to capture new information on applications and infrastructure, continuing our focus on understanding and managing the State’s entire IT portfolio. 

We will leverage this tool to manage our IT portfolio, enabling us to: 

  • Focus on programs and projects that meet business goals and objectives 
  • Optimize state and federal investment opportunities to provide the most value to our stakeholders 
  • Enable on-demand decision-making

Technical Foundation

In addition to these overarching efforts, we need to make sure that we have a strong technical foundation with the flexibility to adapt and incorporate disruptive technologies as they emerge. To transform our technical foundation for the digital age, we will focus on the following core elements.