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Georgia's CIO gets IT outsourcing deal back on track

Stephanie Overby | July 22, 2013
When the Georgia Technology Authority's plan to transform its aging IT infrastructure was failing to deliver, its CIO decided to rework the high-profile IT outsourcing deal it had struck with IBM Global Services and AT&T. The IT team worked with the vendors to get the relationship and the deal back on course.

Senior leadership from GTA, IBM, and AT&T all sat down together to discuss what was wasn't working and then spent the bulk of 2011 putting together a new plan to fix it.

The major issues weren't a result of "trips and falls," says Johnson, "so much as unknowns," namely systems and subsystems with no documentation or only one person in the organization who knew how they worked. To move the project forward, the team adopted an end- to-end transformation plan that accounted for those issues — with 55,000 separate tasks. "We now have a comprehensive, fully developed plan that encompasses IBM and AT&T and all of their subcontractors," says Johnson. "It pulls together all the moving parts. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it works better than the previous approach."

"Prior to outsourcing, we had 20 or 30 years of history in IT, and we had to figure out how we had created those problems that we were trying to solve," says Rhodes. "It forced us to mature from the standpoint that we're going to over-engineer on the front end so we can make very informed decisions about pushing it across the enterprise." That approach takes longer, admits Rhodes. But he says, it helps to ensure "we're not just going to create more problems and go through three or four more CIOs who think they have a better way to do it."

To its credit, GTA had invested in its internal sourcing governance group — which now numbers about 65 including business management, customer relationship, and technology services — from the outset.

"One caution we got from the consultants was not to skimp [on that]," says Nichols. "They pointed to other public sector outsourcing deals not going well and noted that they had all understaffed their service management organizations." Instead, GTA modeled its governance group on those in private industry, "which was about 10 to 20 years down the maturity road than us," says Nichols.

Georgia Back on the Right Tech Track

GTA is on track to achieve the $181 million savings predicted over the life of the contracts, says Rhodes. It's taken longer than expected and longer than Rhodes, who spent 27 years at Fulton Paper Company, is accustomed to. "[In the private sector], decisions can be made much more quickly, and everyone goes along to support it whether or not its in their best interest personally," he says. "In state government, the org chart is much more spread out. You have to spend a lot of time selling and re-selling the agencies on the benefits."

But, looking at what's been delivered so far— improved business continuity and disaster recovery, server consolidation, the ability to mitigate or quickly respond to network attacks, state to respond to attacks in hours, 36-month laptop refreshes, replacing 21 help desks with one — Rhodes says "we're accomplishing things here a few other states have accomplished."


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