County Achieves Autonomy Over IT Services with Agile Approach


Technology & Digital Case Study

CHALLENGE

One of the largest county governments in North Carolina entered into an agreement to share technology resources with a local city government in late 2010. After operating as a shared services function for a few years, it became apparent in 2014 that the model no longer met the needs of either entity. A decision was reached to separate operations, leaving the county without a technology architecture capable of delivering integrated citizen services or viable disaster recovery capabilities.

In addition to streamlining the ease and accessibility of citizen data, the strategy needed to address and improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the information technology organization.

To move forward in a market in which residents and government leaders demanded greater transparency and access to data, the outdated and fragmented architecture required substantial improvements. The new and improved solutions needed to ensure the county could deliver on its commitment to “One View of the Citizen” – a promise to streamline the ease and accessibility of citizen data across various departments. Additionally, in order to sustain long term growth and success, the strategy needed to address and improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the IT organization.

SOLUTION

The county hired a new CIO to orchestrate a turnaround of the IT organization. The CIO turned to North Highland to develop a roadmap for a new technology architecture that would enable rapid delivery of advanced services to the citizens of the county. North Highland was selected to guide the project based on the team’s deep technical expertise, local market experience, and knowledge of the unique requirements of the public sector. North Highland conducted a thorough analysis of the county’s technology architecture that revealed an outdated and fragmented application architecture and technical infrastructure incapable of recovering from a disaster.

North Highland's adaptive approach enabled the county to gain buy-in on a three-year plan to transform the technology architecture while quickly addressing critical weaknesses in the disaster recovery infrastructure. 

With the goal of quickly addressing these challenges using a flexible, adaptable approach, North Highland developed a business capability model and application reference architecture within three months. The team also laid the foundation for efforts that would streamline processes and integrate citizen data across departments. Designed with the future in mind, North Highland’s adaptive approach enabled the county to gain buy-in on a three-year plan to transform the technology architecture while quickly addressing critical weaknesses in the disaster recovery infrastructure.

Using Agile principles of iterative releases, key members of the CIO’s staff remained closely engaged throughout the project – a crucial element of success. In addition to creating a smooth workflow between teams, this sped up knowledge transfer, ensured the organization applied best practices, and empowered staff to sustain the enterprise architecture long beyond the engagement.

RESULTS

North Highland leveraged its extensive expertise in the public sector to partner with the county from ideation to delivery, meeting the target release date and setting the county up for long-term success. The team’s Agile approach delivered results consistently throughout the three-month engagement in order to rapidly address the county’s top IT priorities. The internal team was empowered with quick wins during the course of the project, boosting morale and engagement among the staff.

The new business capability model developed by the North Highland team successfully united the department’s previously disjointed applications and architecture and outlined a clear path to success beyond the engagement. The county’s business and IT leaders bought in on the approach, signaling a positive shift in the organization’s culture toward collaboration and openness.

The new business capability model developed by the North Highland team successfully united the department’s previously disjointed applications and architecture and outlined a clear path to success beyond the engagement.

North Highland also assisted the county in the implementation of a call center to seamlessly handle all permit requests, which significantly improved community satisfaction levels. Designed and implemented based on the new technology architecture developed by North Highland, the centralized call center serves as a proof point for a new approach to engaging county business units and the IT organization. Launched in January 2016 the new call center has been well received by the community. 

The county’s leadership recognizes a bright future for the technology investments. The engagement with North Highland demonstrated a strong link between a clear and well-designed technology architecture and the impact that it makes on delivering high value services to internal stakeholders and citizens alike. Armed with the long-term strategic roadmap developed by North Highland, the CIO is now equipped to make a compelling business case for continued investment in the county’s IT department. 

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