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The Download - February 2015

Project Management

Kaizen: to break apart or change (kai) for the better (zen)

By Jason Sankey

Kaizen

Based on the exposure and magnitude of services we provide countywide, it is critical we have efficient processes in place to deliver requests consistently and in a timely manner to our customers. In order to be an essential technical service leader, enabling our partner agencies to provide innovative and highly efficient services to citizens of Franklin County, we are continually seeking to enhance our current methods and organization. As such, we have looked at ways to improve the culture, processes, and skillsets needed to support the technology solutions we provide.

The core of what we do at the Franklin County Data Center revolves around delivery of services and support to our countywide agencies, which ultimately affects the citizens of Franklin County. It is critical for us to be able to provide the most efficient, timely, and cost-effective solutions to our customers. As we continue to evolve, the customer focus will encompass 3 areas: how they request services; how they receive communications regarding their requests; and how we execute our delivery of those services (time management, budget, etc.). The voice of the customer is an area we proactively manage today. We interview our agencies, use surveys to document levels of satisfaction, and on occasion we receive formal complaints as issues arise. As we continue in our “Lean” efforts, we will further extend customer participation by inviting our agencies to partake in brainstorming sessions as we work on identifying areas that provide (or potentially could provide) value to our customers.

As the Data Center continues to enhance and amend our processes, we have five goals in mind:

  1. Consistency of customer experience. We want to establish a culture where our customers can expect consistency with our intake process. This includes timeliness of delivery, consistency of quality, and expected communications.
  2. Accuracy of our estimates. When we analyze potential projects, we estimate the amount of time and resources required to deliver a request. Currently we provide estimates based on our understanding of the request, how we will deliver it, and our level of confidence to deliver. We want to increase the accuracy of our estimates by 40%. In today’s environment, we provide our customers estimates with a 10%, 25%, or 40% variable (dependent upon our level of confidence). Even with that variable, however, we are not consistently reaching our estimates within the approved variation.
  3. Increased quality in the delivery of our products. This could be measured by developing key performance indicators to capture the number of user acceptance testing defects identified during the customer review of our solution.
  4. Increase the overall timeliness of our deliveries by 50%. This would include developing an initial project charter and, once approved, delivering within the timeline agreed by our group and each agency.
  5. Reduce the average amount of processing time to approve an initial request by 75%.

We are confident that, with the correct processes and resources in place, we will be able to achieve our goals and continue to provide our customers with enhanced service delivery.

The brainstorming sessions will kick off within the next 60 days. If you have interest please reach out to Nicole McKinney for more information (ntmckinn@franklincountyohio.gov).

Agency Spotlight

Welcome to the Agency Spotlight

Agency Spotlight

In the January 2015 edition of the Data Center newsletter, readers were offered the opportunity to embark on a video tour of the Franklin County Law Library. This marked the beginning of an "Agency Spotlight" series for the FCDC newsletter, which will offer greater insight on how various Franklin County agencies utilize technology in their mission to serve the public. Each month, we will be focusing on a county agency and how it is working to align technology to its business needs. Providing a perspective on how IT influences an agency's strategic vision, as well as highlighting how that agency's services function as a component of our county-wide technology plan, will allow us to better understand how technology impacts the way that we do business. This month, we invite you to learn more about how the Franklin County Auditor's Office has updated its website property search in order to enhance an important resource for the citizens that it serves.

New Property Search Website

By Dave O'Neil, Director of Communications, Franklin County Auditor's Office

We are pleased to announce that an improved and more efficient property search function will be added to our website later this month. Those who use our website will soon enjoy a variety of new navigation options that will make it far easier to find requested resources and information.

The new search URL is http://Property.FranklinCountyAuditor.com/.

Visitors to the site will see many improvements some of which include:

  • Modern design and user interface;
  • Increased performance and stability;
  • Better organization by topical areas and functions; and
  • Enhanced mapping interface integrated with oblique aerial photography.

The advanced search option will give users the ability to refine searches based on specific criteria. Examples of these criteria will be appraisal neighborhoods, street name, sale date, sale price and number of bedrooms. These changes represent expanded functionality from today’s site and closely encapsulate all of the website’s resources.

Other enhancements to our mapping interface will be standard Google-like navigation; single or multiple parcels selections; enhanced measurement tools; print and download capability; and the ability to easily turn on and off GIS layers. Additional GIS resources are also planned and will be available on our site in the coming months.

Tech Corner

Trends of the Digital Era and the Internet of Things

By Max Starner, Client Executive Manager, Franklin County Data Center
(with contributions from Shawn Hall, Senior Desktop Specialist and Jay Logan, Network Engineer)

Trends

Wearable Tech, Tech Hygiene, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Smart Watches, Smart Glasses, Smart Homes, Smart Cars, Wireless Power, Curved TVs, Drones, Robots.

These are just a few of the items that comprise the "Internet of Things," and they have set the stage for an age of "Digital Disruption." With a potential 4.9 billion devices coming online this year, we are constantly trying to connect to more people, products, services, and experiences.

In some cases, however, it seems as though the cart is being put before the horse. How are we going to make the "Internet of Things" function within our daily routine, both in business and our personal lives? In 2015, we are on the cusp of the following trends and challenges:

  • Big Data, come on down—The conflict between anonymity and availability of information will continue as we are forced to consider whether the overall value of data acquisition outweighs our desire for privacy.
  • Broadcast Spectrum—The concept that we need our devices to provide us with more information continues. Not only are we concerned with receiving data, but we also are becoming more receptive to devices that can predict our needs and react accordingly. To address these trends, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has responded by opening up new spectrums to the highest bidders.
  • Paying less, receiving more, and having constant availability—Businesses are responding to the high demand for technology through such measures as less expensive access, high-speed broadband, 1/10/100 Gigabit Ethernet services, increased connectivity between critical applications and locations, and the overbuilding of networks to allow for greater agility.
  • Issues like Net Neutrality—Cloud-connected enterprises that required an unhindered internet connection between themselves and their customers will be able to provide service without ISP interference. Ultimately, the marketplace and technology will continue to forge a bond as we become even more accustomed to our devices providing us with the information that we want at exact moment that we need it.

As we embark on a new year, we are truly on the threshold of the "Internet of Things." Growing connectivity and increased availability of information will continue to influence the way that businesses and customers communicate in the digital era.

Some information for this article was gathered from the following source:
Sanders, James. "The FCC's possible reclassification of ISPs signals hope for net neutrality." Tech Republic. January 20, 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/fccs-possible-reclassification-isps-signals-225200109.html;_ylt=A0LEV7wuvr9Uk04AL5glnIlQ.

Did You Know...

Top 10 Data Center New Year's Resolutions

Resolutions

All of the teams at the Data Center have worked to create resolutions for 2015. Ultimately, we strive to succeed in all of our resolutions in order to best serve our customers in Franklin County. Our 2015 resolutions are as follows:

  1. Get Educated (by providing a better training experience to users by means of offering additional preferred training vendors, informative travel packets to better prepare trainees in advance of their travel, and an enhanced Training & Travel OnBase application)
  2. Get Consistent (by implementing a set of standards across all future websites and applications to better provide uniformity and efficiency)
  3. Get Connected (by notifying customers when there will be delays in their requests, as well as when we are awaiting clarification from another person or there are changes from the Financial team)
  4. Get Creative (by incorporating advanced video effects and 3-D animation to more effectively communicate clients’ messages through our video services)
  5. Get Focused (by improving employee efficiencies with the successful implementation of ServiceNow)
  6. Get Innovative (by bringing county applications and agencies together through collaboration and technology)
  7. Get Rest (by everyone in the Data Center working to achieve a successful work/life balance)
  8. Get Social (by increasing employee participation in our charitable causes by creating engaging social activities)
  9. Get Organized (by enhancing our standardized operating procedures to better align with the business needs of the agencies we support)
  10. Get Lean (by improving our end-to-end processes)

IT Leadership Forum

January Franklin County IT Leadership Forum

By Max Starner, Client Executive Manager, Franklin County Data Center

The January Franklin County IT Leadership Forum theme was "Partnerships and Preparing for the Future." Xenia Palus, Director of Communications for the Clerk of Courts, was the guest facilitator.

Clarence Mingo, Franklin County Auditor, served as the keynote speaker. In his message, he urged those who work in IT to facilitate and embrace change. In order to do so, we must be prepared to expand our knowledge base and abilities through training and certification. Furthermore, we must discard the notion that private sector IT is more nimble and proactive than government IT. CIOs and technology professionals must reimagine their roles in order to be innovative, as well as to enact necessary change by adopt new technologies and keeping government IT at the forefront of superlative services.

Zack Fidler, Communications Administrator for PFM, provided a demo of MITEL web/audio conferencing software. This tool accommodates up to 50 users for video conferencing and 100 users for audio conferencing and may be able to serve as a replacement within agencies for other conferencing products.

The four committees formed after the October IT Leadership Forum provided updates to group as well: Introduction to Bid (ITB); Mobile Device Management (MDM); Security; and SharePoint. The ITB committee met three times and has completed their task; they have identified what resources an ITB should include for the county. For further details regarding the findings of the ITB group, please contact Shirley Stephens, Director of Business Services for the Franklin County Data Center. Nicole McKinney, Project Manager for the Data Center, gave a report on the MDM project. A policy is being developed and licenses are in the process of being purchased. Ms. McKinney asked agency contacts to consider volunteering to have their organizations serve as a pilot group for the Data Center’s selected MDM solution. The Security committee, meanwhile, is seeking additional participation, especially from those with legal and public information expertise. This will help the group to be prepared in the face of a cyber event, allowing them to formulate solutions and utilize the correct avenues of communication during such an occurrence. Interested county parties should contact Doug Adams, Data Center Security Manager. Finally, representatives from the SharePoint committee discussed the progress of the SharePoint 2013 upgrade, governance, and how SharePoint fits into Franklin Connect, a county service that will include SharePoint, OnBase, and Service Now. Agencies that would like to join this group should contact Martin Strawser, Solutions Analyst for the Data Center.

Jeff Nelson, IT Director for the Recorder’s Office, asked the audience to consider participation in a request for proposal (RFP) presentation regarding the replacement of the Recorder’s Office’s current recording software system. Interested parties can go the Recorder’s Office website to register. Finally, Jason Sankey, Director of the FCDC Program Management Office (PMO), outlined 2014 project achievements, carryover initiatives from the previous calendar year, and new projects for 2015.

Xenia Palus concluded the meeting by reminding the audience that the IT Leadership Forum will be held every other month in 2015, typically on the third Thursday of that month.