Time to redefine the IT roadmap
- By Frank Antezana
- Dec 18, 2020
Government agencies have long been hindered by outdated IT systems and processes, even before COVID-19 forced an acceleration of modernization efforts. Trying to do today's work with legacy systems and processes places a burden on the government workforce, including manual labor to perform tasks like compiling and checking data from a number of disparate systems. Pre-pandemic, these tasks were time-consuming and tedious. In the new normal, this also leaves room for error, which can lead to fraud, waste, and abuse.
It should come as no surprise then that federal IT budgets are expected to continue growing at a steady rate to reach $57 billion by 2026, demonstrating how the pandemic is driving IT modernization and addressing lingering cultural divides around change at government agencies.
The modernization of an agency's existing technology can seem daunting, especially when considering the budgetary implications of updating legacy systems. Further, many agencies have incurred a significant amount of technical debt in the effort to provide employees with the necessary tools to do their jobs. With COVID-19 cases spiking and nationwide lockdowns potentially on the horizon, and workforces continuing to remain remote for the foreseeable future, the question now is how government agencies can quickly and effectively leverage existing IT infrastructure in continued modernization efforts.
It’s Not Just About What You Have...
But how you use it. The pandemic highlighted how agencies adapt to business needs, as many agencies may already have a solution in house or have purchased the software, but lack the expertise to leverage it. While many organizations are well on their way to pursuing modernization in preparation for future needs, there is still much work to be done to go beyond the “adapt as we go” approach. The next step of IT modernization is to ensure IT teams are fully leveraging the tools available to go beyond understanding organizational needs, and to become more efficient at resolving problems faster - if not before they arise.
Particularly in government agencies, procurement cycles to secure vendors and update systems can provide a challenge for further modernization efforts. It’s important then, to know what technology solutions are already in place, how they can be leveraged for different use cases, and what expertise is needed to do so. Thinking even beyond the next use case, organizations should consider the next steps of IT modernization as a business matures and ensure future agility.
Reengineering Solutions for Today and Tomorrow
COVID-19 highlighted the necessity of adapting business needs at a moment’s notice, and long term modernization plans – no matter how accelerated they might become – can only do so much to address urgent priorities. Agencies need to reengineer systems they may already have in place, tailoring solutions and processes to facilitate continued successful outcomes, from redistribution of stimulus dollars or return to work needs.
Having an organized view of currently available solutions and a plan for modernization also helps agencies tackle the new needs that emerged as a result of the pandemic, particularly the management of grants and facilities as they prepare workplaces for the new normal. New workplace challenges will include remodeling offices for social distancing, increased sanitation cycles, more staff working remotely and a larger number of devices across personal and professional networks.
Legacy systems can’t be turned off while new systems are being built, so agencies need to make the most of what they have on hand and redefine a roadmap for IT modernization that incorporates leveraging existing solutions and processes to their fullest extent. This requires not just knowledge of the solutions themselves, but the training to fully harness their potential. Only by investing in the technologies currently available, while continuing to pursue modernization, can agencies achieve outcomes that meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
Frank Antezana is the CEO if iTech AG of Arlington, Virginia.