North Carolina is consolidating and optimizing enterprise IT functions across the state. The goal is to achieve economies of scale, gain new analytical capabilities, and deliver unique experiences for state agencies and divisions.
Tracy Doaks, Chief Deputy State CIO/Chief Services Officer for North Carolina’s Department of IT (DIT), and Chris King, Enterprise Applications Services Manager for North Carolina DIT, discussed consolidating nine state agencies into a unified service management platform at ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2019 conference on May 7.
North Carolina’s modernization project got a jump start in 2015. The state passed legislation creating the Department of IT (DIT). The CIO now reports to the governor. NC also created a new Chief Customer Officer position, and mandated statewide technology optimization.
DIT’s new authority and the mandate to optimize were important. Doaks and King knew they also needed an integrated platform to improve state-wide customer service.
They hoped to encourage the state agencies to move into a new platform by demonstrating value — carrot vs. stick. “We didn’t want to force them to come,” says Doaks. “It was really important that we were creating an agency that they wanted to come to. And part of that was how we were designing the way that we work.”
Doaks said their number one motto was, “do not disrupt their business.” DIT wanted to build the right processes and understand how to move forward together.
“We wanted to move off legacy systems…and move into something more innovative and forward thinking for our customers,” said Doaks. DIT also wanted to improve service rates and achieve economies of scale.
Doaks and King said the legacy systems were too isolated. They had separate tables for ITSM applications. The separated user data affected portals and user association to tickets. Disparate configuration management databases (CMDB) and assets also didn’t help streamline services.
On top of that, each tenancy could maintain one service portal. This meant an agency customer might create tenancies just to make a new portal.
DIT wanted a single platform so they could share a statewide service desk, applicable data, and operational intelligence. And, they needed to offer separate and customizable service portals, knowledge bases, and workflows.
DIT implemented a single-instance, Access Control List (ACL)-driven environment using ServiceNow. The platform could deliver customized experiences to each agency and provide enterprise-level views and analytics.
DIT started to develop the approach. They had a ready and willing agency – the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DoT)’s CIO was eager to roll out. DIT/DoT worked together to drive change management and understand the customer-facing angles.
DIT has since implemented across nine agencies.
The state helped each agency optimize the platform to meet their needs. “You can provide unique customer experiences on their end without sacrificing some of these economies of scale,” King said, “we allowed these nine customer agencies to see a corner of ServiceNow that looks completely their own. They don’t see my tickets. I don’t see theirs. My people can’t get into their portals.”
“All this variety, while on the back end, [and] we still have one platform to maintain,” he continued, “we still have one upgrade . . . instead of three or nine or 15.”
The system is helping North Carolina manage and mitigate issues, faster. Doaks said the integrated platform helps connect information in new ways. As a result, DIT gains new proactive monitoring capabilities and customer agencies can offer customized and consistent service experiences.
Doaks said they are also delivering broader analytical potential. “We have a lot of people in our organization who will use the information to understand more about the services they provide. All I’m looking for is that they have the potential to do it.”
Doaks and King shared lessons learned from their experiences.
Doaks emphasizes the need to ensure executive alignment and sponsorship. She said it is important to educate and promote the new solution. And, ensure you have the needed investment. She recommends ensuring you can calculate and justify service rates for internal customers.
King recommends sticking with one change initiative. He cautions that demand may grow quickly for other applications. “If you are starting with ITSM, don’t let other applications divert your focus” he says. Once ITSM is successful, then expand.
King also recommends carefully considering internal resources. Although the North Carolina team was new to the ServiceNow platform, King said they showed initiative and creativity. He recommends investing in as much training as possible, even over development hours.
Doaks said these efforts lay the foundation for ongoing organizational change management.