State & Local Digital Services Workgroup Shares Advice

According to NASCIO’s 2018 State CIO Survey, 75 percent of state CIO organizations plan to expand an IT shared services model over the next three years.

Given budget pressures and the push to modernize, many view shared services as an opportunity to install modern, digital capabilities, more broadly and without sticker shock.

In turn, more state and local governments and educational institutions are considering shared services models as they create and deploy new, digital services. As these organizations grow their service offerings, the CIO can operate as a business manager or “broker of services” and the organization becomes a more effective partner to the agencies, departments, and citizens they serve.

Recognizing common challenges around new approaches, John Spirko, ServiceNow Advisory Solution Consultant, and a team of IT executives from government and education formed a workgroup. That group today includes more than 72 individuals who contribute to service design practices, white papers, and research to address common challenges related to developing and implementing shared digital services.

The NASCIO CIO Survey also flags several of these common challenges. CIOs must implement effective operational governance. They need to integrate current funding models. And, they must consider the reality of meeting the specialized needs of agencies or departments with very different missions.

Four workgroup members shared best practices for standing up and brokering digital services, alongside Spirko at ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2019 conference.

The first lesson learned is the importance of using an agreed-upon common reference architecture. The workgroup selected a vendor-neutral reference architecture called IT4IT, for planning, building, delivering, and operating new solutions they create on the ServiceNow platform.

IT4IT includes four areas of Digital Service Delivery using the concept of value streams. The four areas: Strategy to Portfolio; Requirements to Deploy; Request to Fulfill; Detect to Correct. Members brought their skills in different phases of those value streams.

Spirko said, “It was good to have everyone working on these pieces. We didn’t need to have everyone going end-to-end right away, but it was important to realize where we were. And that’s why we use IT4IT.”

By sharing common frameworks, the members have a solid starting point for projects.

Workgroup members also highlighted the importance of finding a common service data model. The model provides more accurate reporting, consistent use, and prescriptive guidance.

“We used the common data service model to prototype the application categorization… We needed a way to group [services] and categorize them so we can analyze them better,” said Tram Truong, Program Manager for the City of San Diego.

George Beazer, a Senior ServiceNow Developer at the University of California San Diego, joined the group, thinking about upcoming plans to migrate off legacy systems and manage applications that were not yet implemented. His goal is to create a portal, a one-stop-shop that will allow users to learn about a service, open a request for that service, create an incident, and see all knowledge related to that service.”

His team was able “to create something that is tied together but allowed for the application from the back end to change,” using the common services data model.

But, it’s not all about the technology for the group. “It’s 70 percent about the people, 20 percent about the process, and then ServiceNow takes care of that last 10 percent about the platform,” Spirko said.

Workgroup members have started to implement their work and modernize service delivery systems. In parallel, the conversation among members has expanded to include change management.

Anissa Simmons, ServiceNow Product Owner/Senior Business Systems Analyst, Clark County, has a department focused on SAP. They use SAP’s Solution Manager for their back end, for support packs and upgrades. They use ServiceNow to characterize incidents, and for support and maintenance of the modules that are part of SAP.

The success of all modernization initiatives relies on organizational buy-in, but many organizations struggle with change management when they take a shared services approach.

One key to success is communicating the vision. Kellie Watters, Product Owner/Business Systems Analyst at the University of California, shared that, “working with directors across IT has helped people see the value of the data that is in ServiceNow and what can be available. That has really helped with moving from that legacy model.”

The other panelists echoed the importance of communicating the value or “WIIFM” – what’s in it for me – to stakeholders.

The group summarized their advice for others working to deploy digital services: take the time to learn what you don’t know; don’t tackle it alone – join a group; get the Common Services Delivery Model White Paper if you have not already. They also recommended taking some time to be strategic about services – IT4IT can help.

And, “don’t forget organizational change. Remember it’s 70 percent of the process – the people,” said Simmons.

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