Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Tacoma, Wash., Uses SaaS to Settle IT Priority Disputes

June 18, 2009 By

Prioritizing IT projects proposed by various agencies within a local government often makes IT leaders into villains to agencies assigned lower spots on the totem pole. But the IT staff in Tacoma, Wash., found a way to avoid that trap. They deployed "on-demand IT governance" software to automate analysis of what the city's IT staff could realistically finish over the course of a month. Based on that analysis, agency representatives then vote each month on the Tacoma IT Department's priorities. This enables IT priorities to come from the end-users themselves, rather than the seemingly arbitrary judgments of IT officials.

Each month, after agencies submit their project requests electronically, the city's IT staff enter the project descriptions into software called Innotas. Innotas analyzes the labor intensiveness factors of each project in relation to the city's limited IT resources. The software then gives order-of-priority options on which Tacoma agencies vote. For example, Innotas might say that if the city made the project proposed by the Human Resources (HR) Department its No. 1 priority, the IT staff would only have enough workers and time remaining to also complete the Water Department's project that month.

By contrast, if agencies voted to push the HR project to the following month, IT employees would have enough time and resources to complete five of the other less labor-intensive projects during the month at hand. The HR representative would need to make a strong case to the other departments that his or her project was worth the others waiting until the following month. IT employees sit relaxed on the sidelines and take whatever set of priorities the vote produces. If agencies later decide they don't like the list of priorities, they have their own judgment to blame, not that of the IT staff.

"There is always a bit of mystery to what happens behind the closed doors of IT. This lifts the veil and shows that if we have only 85 IT people, we can only do 'X' amount of work," said Brad Busick, manager of change management for Tacoma.

"We're making decisions based on facts and data as opposed to emotion and organizational norms," he said.

An agency submits its project using Innotas and later observes its progress in real time through the software. It also calculates the amount of work IT employees have done for various agencies over a given period of time.

"They're able to see that last month, for example, 25 percent of the work we did was for the power utility. If you're an agency that is paying for IT, you want to know how much they're working for you," Busick remarked.

Innotas is a software-as-a-service product, meaning the vendor hosts it and delivers the application through the Web, which the city pays for on demand.

"From a cost perspective, it makes a lot of sense for a government because we don't have to host any hardware on site," Busick explained.

The city paid Innotas a $50,000 one-time fee for 150 employees to use the software.

Busick said he has noticed an increase in the number of projects his team has been able to complete since deploying on-demand IT governance. A reduction in errors has also occurred. Busick expects to have calculations showing those improvements in September 2009.

| More


Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All