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History of IT Unification

In 2009, Oklahoma Legislature passed House Bill 1170, the Oklahoma Information Services Act, creating the position of Chief Information Officer as well as mandating the state perform an assessment of all technology and telecommunication assets and services.

In 2011, the Information Technology Consolidation and Coordination Act charged OMES with increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the state’s IT services.

OMES IS began consolidation with three core objectives:

  • Reduce the size of government.
  • Improve transparency of IT spending. 
  • Increase accountability of IT activities and services.

To meet the legislative mandate, OMES Information Services completed service-by-agency, service-by-service and agency-by-agency unification.

  • Service-by-agency unification is the traditional approach where an agency requests a service be offered to them. OMES IS evaluates the request and then implements it, leading to savings for the agency, but not to the scale of service-by-service or agency-by-agency unification where all of the resources, people and technology are optimized
  • Service-by-service unification projects are calculated by project risk before being undertaken using various measurements including number of agencies affected, technical and business complexity, length of the project and project estimate accuracy.
  • Agency-by-agency consolidation is the primary method used for IT unification. It consists of unifying an agency as a complete system, merging their IT systems and personnel into our own, adding improved knowledge and expertise not only specific to the unified agency but also for all agencies previously unified.

IT unification presents many challenges, including quality, cost avoidance and public protection, which can all affect the outcome. When taking these variables into account, it is important to consider the benefits of cost-effectiveness, efficiency and security. These three benefits define OMES ISD’s current strategy and typify the many challenges of consolidation.

In 2014, OMES Information Services shifted its focus from operational efficiencies to operational excellence. It is exemplified by newly established partnerships with agencies, an emphasis on customer service and a drive for innovative and collaborative solutions. The shift facilitated a fundamental change in the culture of OMES IS — from consolidation of IT to unification of IT.

IT unification consists of distinct and powerful tools: consolidation, integration and incorporation.

  • Consolidation focuses on the bottom two layers of the IT services pyramid and emphasizes efficiencies through adherence to existing state IT standards and solutions.
  • Integration allows for the use of value-added solutions for agencies that complement existing state IT standards.
  • Incorporation creates opportunities to review and replace state IT standards when best of breed IT solutions are discovered within agencies.

Over the past four years, OMES IS has reduced redundancies and made large strides toward unifying IT. To fulfill the legislative mandates, OMES IS will complete:

  • IT assessment forms for the remaining unconsolidated agencies.
  • A review of IT assets including servers, network devices and asset documentation.
  • Moving IT personnel to the OMES IS reporting structure and teams according to needs.
  • Ensuring agencies use the OMES Service Desk to report service needs, which allows for better integration and identification of IT incidents, case resolution and approval.

At the conclusion of these steps OMES IS will focus on optimizing agency-specific IT solutions.

Integrating and incorporating agency solutions into state technology standards is vital to improve business solutions for Oklahomans. As OMES moves forward with unification, aligning IT projects into three main areas of focus will better meet the governor’s statewide goals. Areas of focus include the following:

  • IT unification to provide operational excellence.
  • Enhancing the client experience.
  • IT service modernization.

The following list of projects are examples of OMES IS advancing the governor’s statewide goals.

To transform from a regulator to a trusted adviser, OMES IS challenged staff to:

  • Add value to every interaction with our agencies and affiliates.
  • Quickly adapt to the needs of our partners.
  • Provide quality, innovative and secure solutions.
  • Communicate meaningfully with our partners.

A cultural shift turned the challenge into action. OMES IS focused on its biggest asset, its employees. To improve trust and shared purpose, OMES IS took four steps:

  • Alignment. OMES IS aligned over 800 team members with over 400 working titles into 10 service teams, 13 job families and 100 working titles. The realignment improves the ability to provide professional development for OMES IS employees as well as gain insight into skill gaps.
  • Trust. OMES IS instituted trust training to over 300 employees and held mandatory meetings to increase understanding as to why OMES IS is here, as well as to create a sense of urgency and focus.
  • Transparency. OMES IS began an online webinar for daily operations and intelligence briefings. Leadership, managers and supervisors participate in an online briefing where vital intelligence about the daily operations of OMES IS and partner agencies is provided.
  • Empowerment. The operations and intelligence briefings participation will be made available to all team members in fiscal year 2017 to gain understanding in how decisions are made by leadership. This level of transparency will increase the potential of empowered decisions and collaboration among all OMES IS employees and their customers.

The positive impact of unifying job roles, establishing a culture of trust and providing focused, daily communications with employees has improved knowledge transfer among OMES IS employees and dramatically reduced resolution times for problems. Oklahoma has made large strides toward unifying its technology workforce and will continue this path as career maturity shifts in the state.

OMES IS launched its new customer relationship management tool to improve the customer experience. Last year, the Service Desk received 8,645 annual customer contacts per employee, which is a 44 percent above the national average of 6,023. Since January 2016, the Service Desk has received over 71,000 customer calls.

Whether ordering new services or reporting on an event, it was imperative to provide a tool to improve efficiency. The new tool provides customers with easier navigation, ability to create and manage cases online and enhanced reporting and metrics for agencies. OMES IS launched the new management tool in November 2015 and has increased creation of cases in the online service desk portal by 21 percent.

On the backend, the tool allows technicians to track, manage and transfer cases easily as well as view metrics for their team to ensure cases are being worked even when an employee is absent. The capability of capturing data and metrics with the tool will be expanded to improve the ability to track devices, create annual reports for our agencies and improve incident communications to our customers.

The Information Technology Operations Command Center was built to provide a monitoring and response incident center to improve service delivery. The center is housed at the state’s tier-three data center — capable of withstanding an EF5 tornado and prolonged power disruptions — that monitors all IT assets across the state. The ITOCC centrally monitors approximately 3,000 devices, 500 locations and 35,000 discrete elements using 32 video feeds and nine distributed screens throughout the data center.

Three full-time employees and one technician from each service group, which includes server, network, computer and service desk staff, staff the ITOCC. The team proactively monitors the statewide IT infrastructure for availability, power and health as well as provides initial response to incidents that require on-site cross-functional staff.

There are three more phases to complete the ITOCC project:

  • Integrate multiple monitoring and alerting applications into a centralized management platform, including the Security Operation Center.
  • Automate ticket creation and alerts to service providers, via the new customer relationship management tool, as well as implement automated action for common issues.
  • Expansion of operations to be 24/7/365.

To deliver interoperable solution components using shared services (DISCUSS) defines the goal of the committee created by Oklahoma Health and Human Services agencies to identify and create shared service opportunities. Established in 2013, the DISCUSS committee reviews opportunities and creates recommended plans to move forward with the purchase and implementation of a technology solution. Shared service opportunities must provide the following benefits:

  • Reduce total cost of ownership.
  • Increase integration and interoperability.
  • Reduce management and support overhead.
  • Create depth of expertise.

DISCUSS committee meetings are recorded and ruled by previously created bylaws and charter to provide documentation needed for cabinet-level review and approval. DISCUSS committees align IT strategy with business goals of our partners through the establishment of IT governance within cabinets and business segments. This level of IT governance furthers collaboration to align Oklahoma’s IT resources with business processes our partner agencies need to modernize the services they provide for Oklahoma citizens.

Last Modified on Oct 09, 2023
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