In 2011, the government of New Brunswick (GNB) redefined its Office of the CIO (OCIO) as a Division of the Executive Council Office (ECO), with a mandate to advise government pertaining to IM&ICT for all resources across all public bodies. The OCIO now has real potential for effective oversight, monitoring, coordination and endorsement of those resources.
Governments have a historical and natural propensity to manage organizations in silos. Management has often found innovative ways to reduce costs and maintain or augment services. But public servants now understand that whatever was asked of us yesterday may pale in comparison to what may be expected tomorrow. Mounting fiscal pressures, changing demographics, intensifying cyber security threats and escalating governance requirements are challenging us to think beyond the natural borders of “our” organizations, creating opportunities for enterprise-wide solutions.
The government of New Brunswick has identified Information Management and Information Communication Technologies as a major driver in its quest for such solutions. Although IM&ICT is a major cost, it also plays a key role in service delivery to government offices and to citizens.
One obvious saving identified by the creation of the OCIO was volume discounts. Renegotiated contracts for IM&ICT hardware, software and services have already significantly impacted the bottom line. Sharing services across the enterprise (i.e., same government, different entities within it), while more disruptive, will also result in major efficiencies in operating and managing assets with the same or fewer resources.
But that’s just scratching the surface of the changes in progress at GNB. Aligning 240-plus organizations requires a real culture change. The OCIO is leading the way in setting a clear direction for IM&ICT, taking advantage of our new mandate and strategic position to implement an enterprise-wide planning framework as well as a governance structure to support it. This includes an Executive Steering Committee, Architecture Review Board, Enterprise Architecture Program Office, Strategic Sourcing, Strategic Alignment, Portfolio Management, and Information Assurance Program. These teams include members representing all branches of government.
To create a shared vision of IM&ICT, a GNB-wide enterprise architecture roadmap has been developed and presented to our stakeholders. Based on over a year’s worth of research and development, consultation and hard work, it outlines GNB’s unique vision for the desired end-state, providing a path to enterprise solutions. This one-page roadmap references the current environment and major building blocks over time, delineated by the major IM&ICT domains of information (data), applications, technology and security (and privacy).
But what about business architecture? A CIO can deliver reliable information to feed business decisions while handling a lean set of applications on a well operated technology infrastructure in a secure and private manner if, and only if, the business itself is designed effectively. ECO’s Office of Strategy Management has been working to align the business of government and create enterprise measures through the development of a balanced scorecard-driven strategy map. This map identifies an Information Readiness business enabler assigned to the OCIO. We are now facilitating the business of government through leading, enabling and assuring the delivery of relevant, timely and high quality information through cost-effective and efficient infrastructure and shared enterprise solutions.
Ultimately, a dilemma for all CIOs is that future IT-related expenditure reductions can only become truly significant when business goals are aligned and the business of government is further rationalized. Government as a business must streamline the number of ways of achieving outcomes that add value to the organization; it must establish fewer ways of achieving the same outcomes both in “back-office” processes such as payroll, as well as in “client-facing” services such as licensing. With an enterprise-wide scope, the answer likely lies in new ways of planning such as capability modelling (focusing on “what” to do and at “what level of performance”) as opposed to modelling that focuses on “who” and “how.”
The big challenge will be to change the mindset of public bodies to manage business across government, to move away from requests for proposals (i.e., procurement) that lack upfront planning to define requirements for future enterprise-wide capability performances, to move from “how we do things in this department” to “how we could do things, collectively.” In other words, enterprise architecture coupled with more advanced business process modeling approaches will deliver true business transformation enabled by IM&ICT.