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Ohio Administrative Services Provides Governance Model for IT Optimization

The State of Ohio has established a governance model to better support IT optimization initiatives, due in large part to its success adopting new cloud platforms across agencies and dumping antiquated, siloed systems, said Renee Evans, enterprise service management administrator for Ohio’s Office of Information Technology (OIT).

Evans works in Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services (DAS), which handles everything from IT transformation to human services. “We’re an enterprise for IT optimization,” she said.

That enterprise moniker means her department is tasked with driving IT business outcomes for all cabinet-level agencies statewide. That can be a tough task, with every department making service requests, petitioning for all the best technology upgrades, and leaving OIT to juggle all of those demands.

Evans led a discussion at ServiceNow’s Knowledge18 Conference in Las Vegas on May 9 regarding the changes her department has made in implementing a statewide solution to drive down costs while providing even better IT services to those agencies.

The optimization journey began in 2012, when Ohio CIO Stu Davis outlined a strategy to consolidate all of the state’s IT functions into a single cohesive organization and establish a common direction for their IT community. That clear statement of purpose allowed alignment to flow down from Davis, to agency CIOs, to system administrators and beyond.

Evans provided a quote, attributed to Davis, that noted the human-centric challenge in aligning the state’s IT vision.

“One of the biggest challenges we have in government is getting everyone rowing in the same direction,” Davis said. “It goes beyond innovation and change management. It’s about getting the most out of our people, our business partners, and improving our business processes to better serve the citizens and businesses in Ohio.”

In a couple short years, the state made great progress on those goals, Evans said. Ohio centralized IT infrastructure and established the shared vision Davis articulated.

Evans was, at the time, implementing the ServiceNow IT service management platform at Ohio’s Department of Transportation. The statewide consolidation efforts also stood to benefit from an enterprise ITSM platform. That’s when DAS recruited Evans to step in and lead implementation statewide.

DAS OIT saw that, rather than implementing separate ITSM solutions in each agency, it could instead create a single ServiceNow instance for all of its agencies, and in June 2014, began the ITSM platform rollout across the state.

As part of the solution offered to its agencies, DAS used ServiceNow platform capabilities to create a configurable IT Enterprise Services Portal that was unified, but also personalized. The solution was portable across the enterprise, but also allowed agencies to post their own agency-specific content.

Agencies burdened with maintenance costs on other IT tools or homemade apps found the solution favorable, Evans said. It also enabled cross-departmental communication and resource-sharing that didn’t exist previously. Adoption was swift, and Evans was often a one-man band on agency onboarding.

Success in the service implementation also prompted a new way to structure enterprise IT governance in the state.

“One of the things I had to do was come up with a program governance,” she said. “I’m currently working on restructuring how I prioritize projects in the government for my program.”

DAS OIT created business process owners. That step established subject matter experts for many IT functions, and more than that, created more accountability in her staff, and provided additional resources to oversee the many threads of her program’s effort.

The state restructured its executive steering committee to better manage organizational change and prioritize projects. It is composed of the state’s chief information and chief operating officers, three agency representatives, and a business service owner. Evans said this ensures investments and planning take on a collaborative approach and decision-making isn’t solely an internally-led process.

“We have that executive steering committee and we’re prioritized by that and work from that,” Evans said.

In three and a half years, DAS has fully on-boarded 15 state agencies to the cloud platform, with five more on the way. Evans said this progress has been monumental, particularly since ServiceNow is not a government-mandated service, unlike other services like enterprise email.

“We’ve done a really good job just promoting this as an enterprise tool,” she said.

The solution now accommodates 65,000 employees and vendors. Since the first go-live, Evans said 1.6 million incidents have been received and assigned. Ohio designed more than 130 dashboards and raised adherence to enterprise SLAs to above 90 percent. But it didn’t happen overnight.

Evans discussed lessons learned on the path, particularly with regard to continuing data center initiatives.

Ohio uses ServiceNow’s Discovery product to create a single system of record for the state’s entire IT infrastructure, to map ways the state’s various networking assets connect and interact with one another. Agency firewalls can be difficult to work around, and Evans said even more collaboration is needed to bring everything into the fold.

“We’re probably discovering about 4,600 servers right now, but we still have 1,200 more to get to,” she said.

But that underscores the idea of continual learning that states can glean from this type of optimization journey.

“When you think about a roadmap, I think it’s forever changing and evolving,” Evans said.

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