Posts Tagged ‘Government and Efficiency’

We’ve all been there.  It’s the end of a software company’s presentation showing you how their application will be able to solve all your problems.  Life with them will be total bliss.  You find yourself eager to sign up and put the pain of your current software application behind you.

What’s the antidote for the spell that good sales people put on you?  Ask for a copy of their end user license agreement (EULA).  Here you’ll find all the caveats and disclaimers that will bring you back down from Cloud 9 and let you see reality for what it is.

licensed EULA image orange man What Lurks Deep Inside COTS Acquisition Software License Agreements

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Vivek Kundra, the first Federal Government CIO, was the keynote speaker at a trade show I attended last week.  This was my first time hearing him tell his personal story of leading government IT transformation.  Vivek recounted a number of specific government IT failures with dollars attached on a scale I’m not used to working with.  It’s no wonder that every agency CIO now finds themselves on the hot seat.

Compounding the challenge for agency CIOs is a series of new initiatives from the Office of the Federal CIO.  These initiatives provide important guidelines CIOs are required to follow in the quest for more effective and cost efficient applications.  However, those guidelines do not lay out a specific approach likely to lead to success, leaving it up to CIOs and their staffs to find their own way.

hot seat Federal CIOs on the Hot Seat Need BPM Software

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I’m the father of two young boys. It’s clear to me that the more Charlie and Henry learn to share, the better it is for everybody. Their play is more rewarding. They learn from each other. I don’t have to buy them two of everything.

Federal CIO Steven Van Roekel wants federal agency CIOs to embrace precisely that same lesson. Earlier this month, he announced finalization of the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy. This is big news, and BPM software can play a big role in helping government IT become “good sharers.”

steve2 Van Roekel to Fed CIOs: Better Learn How to Share

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Breaking news today that Federal CIO Vivek Kundra is leaving the White House. Kundra was originally appointed to overhaul the Federal Government’s use of information technology. According to Politico, in the past two-and-a-half years he has overseen $80 billion in federal IT projects. The point of those projects, and Kundra’s strong endorsement of cloud computing for the government, we’re crystalized in his 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management, announced in December 2010. The question now is: will that reform plan continue to move forward?

While I certainly hope so, I believe agencies have a responsibility to achieve the objectives of the plan regardless of any White House mandate. BPM software provides the means to do so.

vivekkundra 22 Federal CIO Vivek Kundra Leaving Administration   Whats the Future of Federal IT Reform?

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The Obama administration’s focus on sustainability and new sources of energy will very likely redouble in the coming years, given the President’s remarks on the future of clean energy innovation in January’s state of the union address.

Before any of that work can begin, however, a real change of attitude has to be made in the way agencies look at current energy use.

images The Green Gov Challenge: BPM Software Can Help

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Mike Beckley, co-founder and CTO of Appian, was interview recently by newscaster Morris Jones on the television program Capital Insider. The discussion centered on how BPM software is  helping drive efficiency in the federal government.

Mike explained that the imperative in government is not just to trim budgets, but also to improve service. What government does is shared across agencies, whether the process is procurement, human resources, or even security processing such as background checks.

50272 141326045899995 391773 n Capital Insider Looks at BPM and Government Efficiency More »

Part Two of a Four-Part Series (see Part One)

One of the most often discussed problems facing the federal government is the graying of the workforce. As more senior employees look to retirement, what can be done to fill the knowledge gap created by their departure?

Strengthening program management is one of the underlying themes behind the OMB’s recent 25-point plan to improve federal IT, announced in December 2010. According to the plan, this requires (among other things) a best practices collaboration platform to help even the newest IT managers make better decisions.

This is an ideal application of BPM software. Procedures and institutional knowledge are often only retained in the memories of long-time workers. Finding out what these people do today (i.e., modeling their processes) is crucial. That visibility enables process improvements to be implemented. Standardizing the execution of those oprimized processes is crucial for getting new employees up to speed and productive quickly. Codifing optimized processes, driven by business rules, creates a standardized documented system that can be understood and practiced by the next generation of workers.

Beyond workforce enablement and career development, the benefits of business process management in developing a best practices collaboration platform are obvious. Consider the Customs Border Patrol (CBP), which is using BPM to manage and monitor the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) project. The WHTI project encompasses multiple methods for identifying travelers and assessing potential security threats at the US borders. BPM technology gave WHTI the active project management, process visibility, documentation audit trails, and collaboration capabilities needed to efficienctly manage concurrent development and deployment across 63 distinct sites.

Collaborative best practices also offer tangible benefits to the mission-critical functions within agencies where the next generation of IT program managers are plying their trade.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how BPM helps implement another important aspect of the OMB’s overhaul of federal IT – namely, aligning the acquisition process with the technology cycle.

OMB Seal BPM Strengthens OMB’s Program Management Initiative for IT Planning

[Part One of a Four-Part Series]

The Fed’s latest guidelines for improving IT in the public sector virtually scream out for the application of Business Process Management.

In December 2010, the Office of Management and Budget announced a 25-point plan to restructure federal IT. The 25 points are based on five broad changes to agency IT, first outlined by OMB in November. Jeffrey Zients, the federal chief performance officer, said the plan should help remove barriers that get in the way of successful project management and execution.

Not surprisingly, nearly all of OMB’s broad changes can be made easier to by adopting BPM solutions.

In our next several blog entries, we’ll look at some of these plan points and look at the role that BPM can play in bringing about the changes that OMB wants. Today, let’s look at the notion of “applying light technology shared solutions.”

The point of shared services in government is to optimize data center capability among agencies through collaboration rather than new technology purchases – while also adopting a “cloud first” policy for new technology.

The continued focus on cloud computing is laudable. Organizations like the Department of Education, which is starting to use Amazon Web Services for some of its new initiatives, are already showing their understanding of how to put a “cloud-first” mandate into action.

At the heart of OMB’s shared services model is a need for better-detailed process. If one agency needs more computing space and the other has it, we’re not just talking about computing space, we’re talking about the process of understanding when your agency has excess capacity, and the process of making other agencies aware of that available capacity. That type of process can be turned into a template and shared across agencies.

Communities of interest have sprung up around BPM to provide just such “templatized” processes. For example, the Appian Forum online community provides application templates and components developed by Appian, its customers and partners. These templates all can be shared, hot deploying an application for any solution. That’s real knowledge sharing and collaboration across and between organizations.

Improved collaboration within and across agencies will get the Fed closer to OMB’s goal of shared services. When processes can be standardized not just for agency specific functions but at the edges as well, sharing that information leads to better sharing of computing capacity, too.

In our next blog, we’ll look at OMB’s goal of “strengthening program management” and how BPM fits in.

image002 OMB’s New Federal IT Plan, Made Easier with BPM

The Obama Administration is taking a hard line on financial accountability – for both agencies and the contractors who serve them. Business processes are at the heart of this increased scrutiny – the better the processes (in terms of visibility and efficiency) the smoother the reporting back to Congress and other governmental authorities.

In late August, federal CIO Vivek Kundra spoke publicly about 26 IT projects recently dubbed “high risk” by the Office of Management and Budget. (On June 28, OMB halted spending on financial systems modernization projects.) Kundra said the projects, spanning 15 federal agencies and exceeding $30 billion in lifecycle costs, require thorough review and better management planning.

“This isn’t about killing projects, it’s about making them run better and faster,” Kundra said.

The lack of credible budgetary reporting back to the sources of federal appropriations is an ongoing issue among some agency decision-makers. This difficulty extends even to spending on the Stimulus initiative. While many government agencies have been able to allocate their stimulus dollars to worthwhile projects, ten agencies – including the USDA, Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security – have spent less than half of the money to which they were entitled.

The slow decisions as to how to spend stimulus money relate to making certain of tangible, measureable results. And this federal emphasis on improved accountability doesn’t stop at the agency level. Lawmakers are seeking to impose tougher standards on the contractors that fulfill the projects to which appropriated dollars are allocated.

Business Process Management software is ideally suited to address the ongoing problem of accountability. Through BPM, an organization can gain better visibility into its project related decisions – along with an added dimension of improved control, documentation trails, and audits. Agencies and the contractors that serve them can gain better control of processes, improve decision-making and create confidence that projects are being executed responsibly and well.

Those are things we all want – and things we all deserve as tax-paying citizens.

flag dollars Tackling the Federal Push for Financial Accountability

Ever since his appointment as Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra has championed the idea that technology can truly transform government. And not just transform it – he wants to make it more open through what have come to be known as Kundra’s “Five Pillars” for IT priorities — innovation, cyber security, transparency, engaging citizens, and lowering the cost of government.

The push for greater openness has even prompted the General Services Administration (GSA) to offer incentives to respond to the challenges of better engaging citizens through an agency-wide platform for innovative solutions.

At its heart, open government is about making agencies more accountable to citizens across the board. It’s about giving citizens more opportunities to connect with government in ways that leave them better equipped to understand and navigate the complex federal bureaucracy. It’s about improved efficiency, transparency, and collaboration.

In short, it’s about better business processes.

Business Process Management software can offer a firm foundation for open government. Increasingly, BPM is being used not just for the “easy stuff” in agency operations, but in targeted core mission responsibilities within an agency or a department. The BPM management methodology directly supports what the Obama Administration is telling agencies about how to relate to both internal and external customers.

Organizations such as the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) are embracing BPM as central to their operations. DAU uses BPM to enforce processes and increase efficiency, reliability, and visibility – ensuring that business rules and approvals are met every time. That reduces processing time, eliminates needless repetition and identifies process bottlenecks.

As mentioned in a previous blog, the Food and Drug Administration has picked Appian as its BPM vendor of choice, and has extended its use of the Appian BPM Suite under a new five-year Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). Having successfully tested out proof of concept, FDA is using BPM technology licenses and support services across the entire organization, targeting core processes agency-wide.

BPM has always had deep value – beyond just trimming the edges of cost reduction and efficiency. As agencies continue looking at more ways to implement the five pillars of open government, they’ll find that BPM is a solid foundation on which to build a real connection with their constituency.

whitehouse2 300x231 BPM: A Firm Foundation for the Five Pillars of Open Government