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As a former CIO, I have had the good luck of only having one failed experience over a 30+ year career in local government and that was corrected within 90 days.
Based upon over 35 major accomplishments having to do with public safety, codes enforcement and various business systems where efficiencies were gained and substantial revenue generated on an annual basis worth millions in dollars of savings, I offer you a few tips this week and new ones over the few months to allow you to implement your systems and projects with success. The end result is projects yielding lower costs and increased revenues.
“It Depends” – You must know your government entity and what needs to be fixed. Not everyone operates in exactly the same way even though most local governments are somewhat the same for 70% to 80% of their basic operations. Therefore, when a chief executive asks the CIO (Chief Information Officer) how to get a problem fixed the best answer is “it depends” how complex the problem may be unless you are very familiar with the issue. Ask to set up a reasonable time frame to do a study and communicate back to him/her as soon as possible.
1. Customization – I have learned that it is best to customize your own systems to what your specific government needs. I am not one to buy “canned” packages for three reasons.
(1)Normally vendors create packages for a large spectrum of clients. You may get 60% to 75% of what you need. Customization is still needed.
(2) The cost in the long run will be lower even if you pay analysts and programmers, etc. competitive wages and benefits. Remember, there is always a next project that has to be done and maintenance and new projects are constantly coming in.
(3) Some positions are still needed internally to operate any Information Technology office such as a CSO (Computer Security Officer), Network Administrators, Help Desk, etc. no matter which way you go.
I do recommend packages for specific, very specialized areas such as in the medical field for Xrays, MRI, laparoscopic surgery or manufacturing like robot movement and placements.
2. Consultants – Sometimes consultants are needed to get an organization off dead center. Good consultants are best when they want to work themselves out of a job by training internal people to become more proficient. For very specific and seldom needed skills such as architecture, engineering, air conditioning, etc. a long term consultant is less expensive.
3. Enterprise – I recommend using one operating system such as Windows, CICS (Mainframe), Linux, etc. for your entire government system and a standard programming language. Having fractured or silo proprietary systems under different systems are very ineffective. It complicates the sharing of information across all departments which is critical to gain savings. A good example is having a Human Resource data base being accessed by all employees where they can see only their own time data such as hours worked, vacation, sick leave etc.
In a few weeks, I’ll write about specific projects you can undertake to gain a good ROI (return on investment) including recouping all the costs needed for the improvement.
By: Robert (Bob) L. Morrison
Bob’s philosophy has always been to improve management and computer information systems for those that open themselves up to greater efficiency and cost reductions. He has developed many major systems saving local governments millions of dollars.
He has extensive experience both in management and information technology. By seeing both sides of the picture allows him to develop and recommend systems based upon his combination background. He feels that government is actually big business and both must conduct itself in similar ways.