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Question

Departments Request technology innovations/improvements

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Leslie Beauregard

Would like to hear how others deal with department requests of their Information Technology departments to make improvements to technology, introduce and create innovations. For example, new applications that IT needs to build out and the like. Our IT Department is inundated with requests at all times and we are trying to figure out a way to get departments to manage their needs better and IT to better prioritize the most important things first.

Thanks!


Answers

 
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Kenneth Decker

We're a relatively small county so we have the luxury of managing this as a senior management team. Rather than have individual DHs make requests of support departments like HR, IT, Finance, etc., we try to prioritize as a team. We have a range of budget exercises we do. We decide on things like major software upgrades, IT infrastructure improvements, etc. If a department tries to "jump the queue" and get IT to address a special project, it gets put on the table. One of the keys to managing support department workload is avoiding the "sneaky" requests coming from individual departments and getting everyone to buy in to group prioritization.

 
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Kevin Knutson

Leslie:

One tool I have used in the past is a "technology upgrade request" that contains a series of questions that help the department build the business case, identify start-up and maintenance costs, and forecast improvements to customer service or savings likely to be generated. Those forms are reviewed and assessed by budget staff, then prioritized by the senior leadership team or CIP committee. Projects that reduce risk to mission-critical infrastructure, with hard-dollar savings that offset cost, or that have significant service delivery impacts are given priority over more "nice to have" projects.

 
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Jerry Schulz

There are of course two kinds of projects, big and small. The ideal for big projects is to develop and maintain a strategic technology plan, the heart of which is a one to three year list of big projects. But if you haven’t had the chance to develop such a plan, the department heads could spend an afternoon developing a high level big project list. For small projects, as part of their duties the IT manager (full or part-time) should accept small project requests and add them to a small project queue. An IT steering committee or failing that the department heads should consider where new big project ideas fit into the existing list. The IT manager should prioritize the small project list, although occasionally the steering committee might get involved in this also. One last issue is the possible involvement of the elected council or board, at least for the big projects.

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