Recently, we sat down with Tod Weber, Chairman and CEO, Software AG Government Solutions, to talk about the importance of government agencies running a proof of concept before committing to a major IT overhaul or implementation. He shared with us his top three things that government agencies should consider before they sign on the dotted line.
Chief Technology Officers for federal government agencies must create networks and implement solutions that not only help them successfully achieve mission objectives, but also adhere to strict mandates for what they must offer to employees and constituents. That is a tough enough balancing act, but today’s tight government budgets make it even more complicated for them.
They must find ways to implement solutions that will meet requirements for today and tomorrow, that offer scale, and that won’t become obsolete before they can offer a return on investment. Despite this pressure, government agencies still need to make IT purchases.
Here are three things that I recommend that federal government IT leaders can do to ease their concerns about making a major IT expenditure:
- Think, “embrace and extend” vs “rip and replace.” The federal government has massive investments in technology already out there today, so the best approach is probably not to rip all of those out and start over. That is an expensive proposition. I think they need to look for places they can invest and get more out of what they have already implemented in the past.
- Never invest in a solution until you validate that it will work in your environment. This is a very important one. In the past, some IT companies would say, “you are already doing X amount of business with us, and we know you have requirements for these other two areas – so we recommend you just put our solutions for those areas.” Often, the customer would fall for it and see it as an expansion of a very large footprint just because the company had a solution in that area. The solution may not be the right one, but they would say, “It’s pennies on the dollar. We’ll take it.” What the government has found, unfortunately, in that approach is that the cost associated for services dollars that are required to try and make that work — and whether it ever really delivers the productivity that was promised — is a big question mark for them. I would say that it’s important to take the mindset of “don’t invest until you validate that it will work in your environment.” It’s no different than buying a car – you wouldn’t buy one without a test drive.
- Start slow and build upon success. Don’t make a massive investment up-front. Start slow, prove the solution out on a smaller project and learn from that. Grow on the success that you hopefully have. If you do a small project first, you also may find that your requirements evolve a bit. You learn what else you can do that you may not have thought about. Government customers may not realize some of the powerful things they can be doing until they get into it, and the next thing you know you are making a significant impact on their operations and hopefully reducing their costs and improving their response rates.