Founded in 1913, the Office of Legislative Counsel is a nonpartisan public agency that drafts legislative proposals, prepares legal opinions, and provides other confidential legal services to the Legislature and others. The office also provides computer services, data networking, and related customer services to the Legislature.
When the Legislative Counsel Bureau solicited for a company to implement its Enterprise Architecture (EA) roadmap, the intent was to develop systems as architecture services across Information Technology capabilities, serving both the California Senate and Assembly. The relationship between these legislative organizations and the Legislative Data Center was one where personalized service was demanded from any level within the organization where the support might be known to exist. The ability to reach in and obtain services at any time seemed responsive, yet the disruptions caused by services not complying with standards was significantly impacting the cost of operations and the ability to ensure all services could be successfully continued in the wake of other changes. At times requests were lost, demands were not implemented as directed, and legislators were frustrated with service levels.
Delegata introduced a governance model to facilitate the appropriate level of responsiveness and understanding for the problems. By introducing an analysis phase, the complete understanding of the impact, not only of the problem, but also of the solutions, was complete and sustainable. When decisions were made they were documented, and implementation was tracked to ensure that no decision was “lost” and that all were implemented “as directed.” Governance also included feedback on the effectiveness of the decision following implementation. The full lifecycle of governance was introduced and practiced within the organization. Also, there was clarification on the levels at which decisions were made. Each EA domain owner could make decisions independently if they did not affect others, but had to include all other domains affected. Management’s cost and schedule decisions to fund initiatives were based on priority and value.
The result was an improved method to ensure that all inputs for service were handled with a high priority based on legislative request, yet the service response was based on decision forums, established to allow clients to select how to allocate resources based on their priorities. Detailed information on impact was provided and this disclosure created a better understanding of the dynamics, even demonstrating that some initiatives actually worked to deny better service overall. Ultimately, clients became closer partners in the decisions that affected their service.
The decision process was fully integrated with IT operations since most of the changes within the Legislative Data Center used standard processes in support of enterprise governance to provide the appropriate impact information. The improved control caused many fewer impacts in technical implementation, since the impact was known prior to any implementation. The improving profile of technology to implement decisions with many fewer unpredictable impacts was highly appreciated.
When assessing performance on the enterprise architecture for the LCB in support of the California Legislature, legislators often asked, “What are 388 people doing in the Data Center?” when external consultants were hired to perform work. The problem was that the work was extremely diverse and there was no strategic, enterprise focused system that helped to collect information in ways that would allow the story to be told with any fidelity to the numbers.
Many Information Technology (IT) organizations have a client perception that costs are high, yet service expectations cannot be met, particularly when implementing new projects, where resources always have to be hired externally to complement staff. Delegata drew the distinction between the LCB’s operational and project work and the skills required for each. By isolating the skill requirements and then the number of people assigned within skill sets throughout the organization, it was possible to demonstrate that most resources supported IT Operations work and did not have the skills required to support new development projects. Further analysis clearly showed that there were large numbers of people working many data problems for historical applications as well as many other traditional IT workloads. By documenting the work requirements and comparing them to the capacity of people in the organization it was then possible to identify the gaps, as well as where resources were required to perform work that was not in line with traditional IT Operations.
By having the information compiled on the work associated with Data Center personnel, the governance stakeholders were able to make decisions about how to prioritize changes to help reduce workload in areas that were inconsistent with effective and efficient IT Operations. By reducing resources in those areas, more individuals were available for retraining in areas where there was a perceived need. The collection of past and future workload information also helped in identifying the appropriate new skills that should become the focus of retraining.
Explaining the dilemma of IT Operations to business clients helped IT to tell their story. They had known in the past that they were busy, but could not communicate the quantitative impact to clients. The information also helped to demonstrate the value of having improved tracking information for workload against the capacity of resources in the enterprise. IT training focused more on future needs while system changes focused on reducing needs in areas demonstrated to be too costly and ineffective.