Information Technology Strategic Plan Review
As previously described in the Executive Briefing, this Information Technology Strategic Plan (ITSP) is meant to be a document laying out important challenges facing Stanislaus County related to technology, or for which some technological solution should be investigated. IT strategic plans from 2000 and 2007 also made recommendations intended to guide the County’s direction related to technology. Neither document laid out a specific framework for plan review or future plan development, however.
Beginning with this plan, identified here as ITSP-2017, a formal structure is proposed for constant iteration on IT strategic planning for Stanislaus County. In future Plans, this Information Technology Strategic Plan Review section will include an analysis of the implementation of recommendations from previous Plans.
The following table provides a schedule for the publication and review of this Plan, and of the preparation and publication of a future IT Strategic Plan (ITSP-2020):
|IT Strategic Plan: 2017|
|First Status Report:||June 2018|
|Planning Committee convenes:||March 2019|
|IT Strategic Plan: 2020|
This review schedule recommends that the ITSP Planning Committee (those involved in crafting the most recently published Plan) meet 15 months after publication of the latest Plan and issue a Status Report on the implementation of that Plan, describing successes and challenges in implementing the Plan’s recommendations.
On the 24-month anniversary of the Plan’s publication, the ITSP Planning Committee responsible for the development of the next Plan (ITSP-2020, in this case) should convene and begin to craft the next IT Strategic Plan, an element of which will be providing a review of the implementation of the previous ITSP. The section you are now reading will be where that information is promulgated.
Who should be involved in these ITSP Planning Committees? Certainly County IT Managers will play a crucial role. Special interest groups involved in certain technologies, such as the IT Security Special Interest Group, and the Oracle/PeopleSoft and GIS management committees must be involved, at least related to their areas of focus. Should Stanislaus County hire a Chief Information Officer, that individual would naturally lead these future planning efforts. In the absence of a Chief Information Officer, the Information Technology Central director should continue to lead. Other key stakeholders should be sought, especially when it comes to identifying the challenges reported in the Executive Briefing, around which the Plan is structured.
On the following page, the recommendations from the 2007 Business Technology Strategy (“BTS”) are provided. The 2017 Information Technology Strategic Plan does not contain a formal review of the BTS recommendations, however, some of these recommendations are also referred to individually in other sections of this document.
Business Technology Strategy Recommendations
- Expand Electronic Access to County Services
Continued migration of service delivery to electronic, especially web-based, methods is inevitable and should be embraced and adopted as a formal goal. Electronic access to services includes access by the citizens of Stanislaus County as well as by county employees and county partners.
- Manage County IT Activities as a Partnership
County departments have specific needs from IT. The County as a whole benefits from making the best use of IT systems and assets. Wherever practicable the County should attempt to find avenues for improved collaboration in regards IT throughout the County, involving the Departments in key decisions about IT and listening to the needs of customers to manage IT in a prudent, responsible way. To this end, the creation of an IT Steering Committee is recommended to facilitate this communication and collaboration.
- Establish Standards for Electronic Data Management (EDM)
Stanislaus County, like most organizations, struggles with the number of forms and records required by our business practices. While moving the paper component of these documents to an electronic format is a natural direction, it is important that this be done in an organized, coordinated fashion in order to not simply replace an organized but floor space-hungry paper system with a disorganized but compact electronic one. The development of standards for electronic forms, policies, procedures, guidelines and standards around electronic document management should all be developed to ease this migration to electronic documents.
- Share and Manage Geographic Information System (GIS) Data
GIS data has quickly become pervasive in the County, as it has in our private lives. The ability to associate data with geographic location is a very effective method of communicating information visually. That data could represent locations of library branches, Megan's Law data or a map projecting impacts on vehicle traffic from proposed road work; in each case the user is better able to assimilate the information visually. While the County has long provided GIS services, in order to improve and expand those services, data standards and data maintenance procedures should be developed to improve the quality of the GIS offering. Additionally, partnering with other local governmental entities to share and improve GIS data could provide benefits for all parties.
- Implement Business Process Management (BPM)
Ultimately, IT is implemented to improve or extend some business process, or it is probably implemented ineffectively. Understanding the business process first is critical to the success of any business process improvement. It is recommended that a formalized approach be created and adopted for analyzing business processes and evaluating whether an IT-based solution is appropriate to improve those processes. Additionally, mid- to large-scale IT projects would benefit from formalized project management procedures and methods, including standardized reporting and communication protocols. It is recommended that those protocols be developed and used where appropriate.
- Develop and Sustain IT Capital Investments
Once IT systems are implemented, they must be maintained and there should be some plan for continued operation and ultimately, upgrade or replacement of the system. This includes computer applications such as word 2017 Information Technology Strategic Plan Page 9 of 23 processing and spreadsheet programs, and how their licenses are accounted for and managed, as well as larger enterprise applications such as financial management and human resources systems. Additionally hardware, including desktop computers, portable computers, printers, scanners, file servers, and the various types of network equipment have limited useful lives and forethought should be given to the entire lifecycle of this equipment, including eventual replacement. Planning, including the funding requirements, should be developed in collaboration with County departments for sustaining our IT systems.
- Move Toward Common County-Wide Data Communication and Network Services
It is recommended that the County look at providing some core IT services either centrally or try to develop a standard platform for common capabilities. In particular, user directories, which are distributed databases used by applications to store information about system users such as user names, passwords and privilege levels, exist in multiple implementations throughout the County. It would be prudent to explore the possibility of tying these diverse systems together. Nearly every County employee has an e-mail account in one system or other, but there have always been challenges in communication between the different systems. It is further recommended that the County explore the feasibility of standardizing on a single e-mail platform. Given the number of IT initiatives already in place, as well as those under consideration, effectively communicating what is being implemented, what stage of delivery it is in currently and specifics about the IT initiative can be a daunting task. However, understanding and communicating what is really happening in IT in the County is critical and it is recommended that an effective method for sharing this information be developed and implemented.
- Invest in Human and Organizational Capital
It is recommended that the current state of County IT staffing be studied. In particular, classifications should be analyzed to determine if the appropriate number, level and type of IT classifications exists and to recommend improvements where appropriate. Also, given the difficulty in finding and retaining qualified staff with a high level of IT competency, it is recommended that a study be performed to recommend ways of addressing this challenge. Additionally, some thought should be given to IT staffing levels and the distribution of IT staff throughout the County.
- Develop a Comprehensive Business Continuity Plan
The more dependent we become on IT systems, the more critical it is that those systems remain available a very high percentage of the time. The current Business Continuity/Resumption plan should be reviewed and updated and formal methods of building Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning into the business process improvement process should be implemented.
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