The State of Nebraska follows a mandate to find innovative ways to provide technology solutions to its customers and constituents. Nebraska’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) relies on team leaders like Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Solutions Manager Kevin Keller to drive overhauling technological initiatives. The state’s enterprise platform has streamlined project management across more than 20 governing agencies.
According to a National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) case study, OCIO also turned to local community colleges to find new talent. Recruiting students that had experienced skills-based learning helped the state to implement agile development. As a result, the state of Nebraska runs transparent stand-ups and scrums, generating interest and enthusiasm amongst team members and fueling productivity.
Keller provides insights into raising IT performance, a look into how ECM implementation went for the Buckeye State and advice on employee training and retention.
From your perspective, how has IT’s role in government evolved over the last decade?
Keller: Over the past 10 years, with our continuous evolution of software development tools and platforms and the use of Agile Development Methodology, the State of Nebraska has been able to make great strides meeting many of [Governor Pete Ricketts’] initiatives such as streamlining processes, providing electronic access to constituents 24/ 7 on any device and reducing and eliminating paper.
As an IT civic leader what are some technologies that interest you and why?
Keller: Both Agile Development Methodology and our information management platform. With the continuous evolution of both our information management platform and the use of the Agile Development Methodology, we are building solutions with mostly out-of-the-box technology.
Using a streamlined Agile Development Methodology, the state of Nebraska has been, and will continue to provide high-quality solutions in shorten time frames to continue to serve our constituents in the best and fastest way possible.
What are some innovative examples of your government utilizing technology?
Keller: The state has setup an information management service where the OCIO hosts all the hardware and all the software modules that the state has acquired through its OnBase contract. Our customers, the agencies, buy the services through a monthly user fee that supports and refreshes all hardware periodically, along with upgrading and supporting the software on a consistent basis.
From the development/configuration side of the house, the agencies can choose to either develop or configure their own solutions, or have either the OCIO or DataBank (The State’s Implementation Vendor) provide those services on a time and material basis. This has been a very successful model for us, where we’ve implemented more than 172 times and money saving solutions for 21 agencies thus far.
When implementing or adopting new technologies what challenges have you had to overcome, any best practices learned?
Keller: Change Management has been the most challenging for both our use of ECM and Agile. As is the case with most change, we’ve seen that our developers, business users and end users have experienced a difficult time adapting and transitioning to these changes.
It’s hard for staff to change from what they are ‘used’ to doing, to a totally new process. But once they see the productivity changes and other benefits they’ve obtained from the new system and processes, they can’t imagine going back to how things were before. To help with the transition, we found that continuous use, education and promoting of these technologies through onsite training sessions and webinars worked the best.
As a civic and technology leader what keeps you up at night?
Keller: Retaining staff. The state invests hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars training and growing its IT staff — especially to support its use of technologies. We continuously look at ways to retain employees, knowing that government can’t compete with public sector wages. To accomplish this, we offer amenities such as flex work schedules, cost of living in the Midwest, fun work culture and a challenging work environment.
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