Gov 2.0 Summit: Labor CFO Discusses Cloud Pitfalls - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Cloud
News
9/8/2010
02:23 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Gov 2.0 Summit: Labor CFO Discusses Cloud Pitfalls

If the Department of Labor had to move its financial systems to the cloud all over again, it would plan better, says the agency's CFO.




Image Gallery: Government's 10 Most Powerful Supercomputers
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)
Speaking at the Gov 2.0 Summit Wednesday, Department of Labor CFO James Taylor had a word to the wise for federal agencies -- and any other organization, for that matter -- planning to move their financial systems to the cloud: plan adequately.

The Gov 2.0 Summit, produced by O'Reilly and UBM TechWeb, is being held at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.

In January, the agency moved its financial systems from a 20-year-old, poorly integrated piece of software that didn’t talk to other systems to a shared service managed and operated by GCE. Implementation took 18 months, including a three-month delay toward the end of 2009, Taylor said. While shorter than the typical deployment cycle for a major financial system, the changes the system entailed for the agency's business processes made it longer than a typical cloud deployment cycle.

Over the long run, Taylor said, the GCE service will enable the Department of Labor to "dramatically" change, streamline and standardize agency business processes across the agency, which Taylor characterized as a "very, very decentralized agency." In addition, the cloud has stopped the agency from having to do all the operations and maintenance on its financial system, which adds up to long-term cost savings.

However, over the shorter run, Taylor said, the change from older on premises systems to GCE has posed numerous challenges. "The issues aren’t really created by the shared services, but we really didn’t see ahead in terms of requirements and how big the change would be," he said. "Everybody talks about best practices, and we do call around, but what we didn't do well, is we didn't study other use cases to see if other agencies and customers have the same issues and how they tackled them."

Instead of walking invoices across departments, for example, the invoice process is now entirely automated. "Those types of changes have been the hardest in terms of getting everything to work in the last eight months," Taylor said.

With new, more powerful financial systems at its fingertips, the CFO is also enforcing rules that certain other systems don't always enforce, causing business process problems in places like procurement.

Many were unprepared for the changes, Taylor said, because they were skeptical of the agency's ability to pull the upgrade off, given a $35 million failure several years ago as well as the three-month delay. Therefore, at launch, the agency had to set up training rooms to show employees how to do things like process vouchers and contracts. "We had a huge effort in trying to catch up," he said. Patches made to systems integrated with the GCE system have also played havoc with GCE's own system. For example, Taylor noted changes made to the agency's procurement system over a weekend that didn't sit well with a subsection of employees.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
AI Regulation: Has the Time Arrived?
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  2/24/2020
News
Fighting the Coronavirus with Analytics and GIS
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/3/2020
Slideshows
IT Careers: 10 Job Skills in High Demand This Year
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  2/3/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Video
Current Issue
IT Careers: Tech Drives Constant Change
Advances in information technology and management concepts mean that IT professionals must update their skill sets, even their career goals on an almost yearly basis. In this IT Trend Report, experts share advice on how IT pros can keep up with this every-changing job market. Read it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll