We help CIOs modernize government ITFebruary 21, 2019
If you work in this space, you already know that many federal systems are outdated, with components that are sometimes more than 50 years old. You know how hard it is to get the funding and buy-in to make a significant upgrade. You know it takes a huge chunk of your budget to maintain legacy systems (per a GAO report, it’s more than 75%). And the people who know how to maintain them are becoming few and far between.
You know all this. But what you might not know is that there are partners who specialize in exactly these types of IT transformations. For more than two decades, we at Binary Tree have helped federal, state, and local governments around the world modernize their IT.
We can help you plan, move, and manage your transformation away from legacy systems. Even if they’re from the 80s. We’ve been doing this for nearly that long, so the state of your systems won’t faze us. Whether you need your systems to leapfrog a decade (or five), we can walk you through it. Here are some best practices to consider.
Make it a conversation
All too often, federal CIOs send down general “mandates” to their CIO counterparts in business units—with mixed results. A better approach is to get all the various CIOs involved in the decision-making process. This shouldn’t be in the form of mandates from on high. Instead, set up a two-way dialogue between agency and business unit CIOs. And maybe even some key users. Talk things through. Collaborate. Get buy-in.
Strike the right balance
If your systems are particularly fragmented, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to centralize 100% of them. And it might not make sense for all business units in agencies with more specialized missions. So don’t shoot for 100% centralization. Instead, look for ways to innovate across different business units. Strike a balance between innovation and mission needs.
Tackle common systems
Some IT systems make for good candidates to modernize and centralize first. These include email, help desk, directory services, content management, and security. That last one is especially important given how vulnerable legacy systems are to modern cyber threats.
Partner with an expert
Since yours might be a complex migration with plenty of opportunities for things to go sideways, the best way to ensure a smoother transition is to partner with someone who’s done this before. And ideally someone who’s worked on migrations for government organizations.
Get an outside assessment
A partner like Binary Tree can come in and assess your IT systems and help you map out a plan for how you need to change. Our clients often find it helps to have a fresh pair of eyes take a look under the hood. And we’re a neutral third party, so we base our recommendations on our experience with other clients like you.
Use facts to drive buy-in
Because there are often significant cultural concerns around updating technology that has worked well for years, you’ll need to tread lightly here. Business units have good reasons for why they’ve rolled out their own software. And why they’ve continued to use it. So you’ll need to use gentle yet persistent logic to walk them through the features and benefits of a new solution. A cost analysis can be a great tool here, and that’s something we can help you with. We can also make sure you’re familiar with the ins and outs of a new Microsoft solution—and can speak to how it will affect your users.
Automate for efficiency
Particularly when you’re migrating your email, directory, and other applications, automation is a great way to smooth the process and help prevent costly and disruptive human error. The last thing you want to do in these types of projects is disturb your users. After all, you’ve overcome many obstacles to roll out this fancy new system, so it had better work on day one. Our suite of migration products keeps your users working smoothly as you migrate. And they’re flexible enough to handle even the most complex of scenarios.
Keep an eye on security
Security is often top of mind when it comes to migrations. But it’s especially important in government when you’re migrating sensitive data. Unfortunately, many other migration tools on the market have requirements that pose security risks. Some of them require you to open tens of thousands of ports in your firewall. Our products open exactly one port, and it’s only one-way communication. So there’s significantly less chance of your data falling in to the wrong hands.
Plan for user onboarding
Training should be a big part of this project, particularly if you’re making a significant technological leap forward. As you get closer to rolling out a new system, there’s a good chance your users will need a tip or two for how to use your new systems in their day-to-day. If you’re moving to a Microsoft platform, we can help with this type of onboarding and change management—everything from adoption campaigns to communication to help desk to training.
If you do find opportunities to innovate in your email, directories, or other applications, we’re here to help. We can shepherd you through the process of migrating your email, directories, and applications to the Microsoft cloud. To learn more, get in touch.