Appian World 2013 Keynote Presentation — Re-architecting Federal IT to Put the Customer and Taxpayer First

There’s a strong federal presence at Appian World 2013, which seems fitting for a conference set in the nation’s capital. Our Federal programming kicked off with a great presentation from Philip Klokis, the CIO of the General Services Administration’s Public Building Service (GSA-PBS). Mr. Klokis discussed his agency’s journey towards understanding their business as process-oriented, not transaction-oriented, and how pushing process to the edge of the organization is essential for customer-centricity.

The Public Building Service (PBS)’s mission is “to provide superior workplaces for federal customer agencies at good economies to the American taxpayer.” They serve as the landlord for civilian agencies, from design and construction to leasing and facility management. They also promote innovative workplace solutions, act as a green proving ground, and preserve historically significant buildings for future generations.

Klokis talked about defining the customer (and the partner). He believes the key to success is to embrace their partners as equals and collaboratively implement solutions and share the risks. Early, frequent and honest communication with ALL business partners is essential. Above all, be agile, mobile and in some cases hostile!

Klokis touched on the challenges in the PBS’s process journey. Their roots are inherently process and paper-based, and the exchange of real-estate is well established. Their transactions are significant, but infrequent, and their processes are complex and require orchestration with many different entities.

Just for leasing, they identified the following design metrics:

  • 200+ Processes (including sub-processes)
  • 1,400+ Process Nodes
  • 30+ User Roles
  • 200+ User Interface Forms
  • 175+ Document Types
  • 70+ Document Templates
  • 1000+ Structured Data Attributes

How does one navigate through this design? They stopped thinking about “features” and started thinking about the business process. Klokis used a GPS analogy – the system course corrects as they navigate through the complex leasing process. If users get off track, BPM guides them back to the goal.

The PBS partnered with their customer for pre-production user testing and feedback. They then turned this process into intelligence. Early user feedback shapes the system being built, and metrics help them see where they should go next in business and in IT. Klokis stressed the importance of putting the customer first… and second.

Pushing established processes to the “edge” of the organization with mobile is vital to a customer-centric organization. Klokis explained how certain tasks of their standard processes were a perfect fit for mobile. For example, mobile enables the accuracy, speed, and integrity of market surveys. There’s a bright future for native mobile apps in the real estate business — but how do you support the mobile workforce to take advantage of that?

Klokis talked about re-architecting their IT with new tools and a new approach.

  • A loosely-coupled enterprise architecture allows PBS to leverage their existing investments
  • A BPM layer allows them to provide consistent user interfaces
  • Reusable components are being leveraged across PBS and other GSA business areas
  • Code-free app development delivers greater – and faster – value

Klokis wrapped up with the lessons of the journey. Change management is CRITICAL – value needs to be realized at the executive, policy and user levels. Information and data rule… he who has it, has the power. Over time, balance flexibility and structured/standards with data-driven decisions to strike the right balance for the good of the business.

GSA PBS went all-in with BPM to support a $4B revenue stream. They chose a phased deployment — Klokis promised to let us know how it goes in 4 months!

Alena Callaghan

Web Marketing Manager