By Pepper Parr
December 8e, 2021
Without information technology, the city could not open its doors every day.
A lot of very smart people get technology to do what it’s supposed to do – and making it work is a challenge.
Different IT applications need to learn to “talk” to each other and pass information to each other so that senior managers and the board have up-to-date (sometimes down to the minute) information on which to make decisions.
The other datum for technology, people is money – this stuff is terribly expensive and people who work in information technology aren’t cheap – and there isn’t. not enough for everyone.
Municipalities will poach each other to find people who can bring it all together.
Earlier in the week, Council received a progress report on some of the projects for the period August to October.
It wasn’t all bad news – but there wasn’t a lot of really good news for the Council.
The budget for the corporate resource planning program is $ 9,480,000 and more will be needed in the near future. A Council report and a request for funding will be presented in April 2022. The request is then in the order of $ 3 million.
One of the problems with monitoring these essential but very essential programs is that few of the seven members have a good understanding of what is involved. Advisors Sharman and Kearns are well versed in the matter: Kearns is the sharper of the two.
Sharman is good at holding senior executives to account. There was an “iconic” Council session last year when Sheila Jones faced off against Councilor Sharman, Jones reminding the Councilor that the approach for Council members was “nose in – fingers out”.
Councilor Sharman tackles the weeds every now and then – the senior staff in place now are good enough to break that habit of Sharman.
Burlington has a number of projects offering customer-centric services with an emphasis on efficiency and technology transformation. Specifically, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Asset Management Software (EAMS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI) have a corporate designation reflecting the breadth and depth of scope of these projects and their contribution to the realization of the first approach and digital transformation.
This report also provided information on Situation Reporting Theory and key elements of Situation Reporting in the City of Burlington, including:
Overall status of the project which takes into account the scope, budget and schedule and where clear criteria are established to objectively assess the status in each area.
A brief description of the project and its alignment with the strategic objectives.
Highlights of the main achievements since the last reporting period and key tasks planned for the coming period.
Highlights of critical risks and challenges that are part of the risk management plan.
Key tasks that deal with communications and engagement and information related to personnel resources.
Links to documents or tools and other information that may be relevant depending on the status of the project.
In keeping with open communication and engagement, the report provides the committee and board with an update on each of the company’s three initiatives, including overall condition, milestones, critical risks and other relevant information in order to provide assurance that the governance of the project is functioning effectively. .
Although the criteria and guidelines for assessing the health of a project have recently been changed in the context of overall project management practices with Information Technology Services, we are deferring its use until in 2023. This report will give us the opportunity to take a fresh look at the report template to improve the information provided to the board. In addition, we review our inventory of company-wide projects so that appropriate progress reports are provided to the Board.
Advisors Nisan, Bentivegna, Stolte, and to a large extent Advisor Galbraith are lost when technology is the issue. They are easily snow covered by the staff. Burlington has a mix of computer applications that have reached the end of their lifecycle and are no longer supported; other applications must be revised or replaced in order to communicate with the larger and more robust applications that are currently in use.
Understanding the magnitude of the challenge requires some literacy that most counselors do not have. The mayor tends to believe what she hears knowing that she can put a collar on the City Manager during their weekly meetings that aren’t taped.
Some time ago, the city started to integrate a customer response management (CRM) program – the first step did not go well. Council members were furious and demanded that the city administration not come between councilors and voters.
There were strong reasons to set up a CRM program when it became kaflooey, advisers were able to demand immediate changes. This dynamic is unlikely to apply to other situations.
It is generally realized and understood that data is needed to make decisions and that for the most part data is “out there somewhere” Isolating data and configuring it in such a way that it can be accessed by other applications is the costly challenge facing the city.
Trade information reviews have been completed; they gave people in information technology a deep understanding of their business needs. Chad MacDonland, chief information officer, told the board that the job went so well that his team was able to show staff a demo version of what the completed integration will look like.
However, not all information requirements were met. Councilor Sharman said he “longs for the feeling of confidence” he would get from seeing the Gantt charts – and asked if they existed and if they existed if they were available.
Executive Director Jones reminded Sharman that the role of advisers is “nose in, fingers out”.
Gantt charts exist – no assurance Sharman will see them.