The recent government shutdown showed the vital and often unseen role the government plays in daily life. From the functioning of airports to the distribution of benefits to the maintenance of public parks, a lot rides on the ability of the government to function smoothly. To that end, it’s imperative that CIOs and CTOs at the federal, state, and local levels employ an IT strategy that leverages all resources (including people and technology) and generates ROI for every dollar.
Given the tight budgets and high stakes, here are four areas of government IT that need the most attention.
1. Consolidate your vendor relationships
Because building everything in-house is neither practical nor efficient, many government IT teams work with vendors. Strong vendor relationships enable IT teams to optimize their resources by focusing on what they do best and outsourcing the rest. These days, it seems like there are vendors out there that can fulfill any IT need, but too many vendor relationships—or the wrong ones—can lead to serious headaches and delays. This is why consolidating vendors is a key part of an effective IT strategy.
Consolidation reduces overhead and complexity, so IT teams don’t have to dedicate significant time to vendor management. It can also improve governance, advance technologies within the enterprise, control vendor risks, and increase purchase power.
When working with a smaller number of vendors, each one tends to have a bigger impact, so it’s important to choose carefully. Step one is to evaluate existing vendor relationships and cut vendors not delivering on their promises. Next, identify vendors that can fulfill a variety of service requirements. For instance, HP offers services solutions that cover the spectrum, from managing hardware to compiling data and insights. This type of multifaceted partner relationship can help you solve IT challenges faster, so you can stay focused on reinventing your organization.
Experience is also a factor worth considering, as established vendors are more likely to commit for the long haul than new startups. Other points to consider include lead and implementation times, quality assurance, and payment terms and conditions.
2. Invest in hardware management
With the proliferation of mobile devices and the Internet of Things, every IT strategy must now factor in a sprawling network of hardware and connected devices. There are more endpoints than ever. One weak point in a network can provide an opportunity for hackers to break in, while malfunctions on devices can detract from productivity. Ideally, IT teams shouldn’t have to spend valuable time manually maintaining devices.
IT professionals can streamline hardware management by procuring technologies that come with built-in security features. For example, modern printers, like those offered by HP, come with embedded security features that can continually detect and stop attacks, adapt to new threats, and self-heal. These automated features will save your team precious time they’d otherwise spend on device maintenance. Working with a managed service provider on hardware oversight can also reduce a government IT team’s burden.
3. Prioritize risk management
From compliance to security, government IT teams have to make reducing risk their top priority. According to the 2018 Thales Data Threat Report: Federal Government Edition, 70 percent of federal agencies have been breached, with 57 percent experiencing breaches in the past year. Government data is particularly appealing to hackers, because it’s highly sensitive and may contain credentials linked to financial accounts.
Every government agency needs to put technology and processes in place to keep their data safe. For you, this may mean implementing strict password requirements and disaster-proofing data. In New York City, the Office of Data Analytics conducts monthly “data drills” to practice emergency scenarios, like a hurricane or cyber attack.
Ensuring cybersecurity standards are upheld among vendors and contractors is also critical, as hackers frequently attempt to breach government networks via third parties. Risk management is all about understanding what the risks are and taking proactive steps to mitigate them before it’s too late.
4. Develop your human capital
Even a strategy that takes advantage of the most modern technologies and codified processes may not amount to much without investing in human capital. Any IT strategy that aims to optimize ROI has to put people at the center, and this requires thoroughly and consistently training government employees to follow security best practices when using the technology at their disposal.
Ultimately, technology is about enabling people to do their jobs. If a program or device or protocol is too confusing for people to use, IT teams need to take that into consideration. Training and an ongoing dialogue can keep IT teams and government employees on the same page.
All businesses strive to get as much ROI as possible, but this is especially critical for government institutions, which have limited budgets and are accountable to the public. To that end, developing an effective IT strategy can help you realize the full potential of your organization’s government resources and keep the country running.