Roadmaps for IT Modernization
The risk associated with legacy information technology (IT) systems not meeting the Federal Government’s evolving needs is substantial and unacceptable. The costs are also significant with 78% of the $80 billion spent annually on Federal IT going toward maintaining existing systems, crowding out funding for modernization.
On February 9, 2016, President Obama announced his Cybersecurity National Action Plan that requests $3.1 billion for an IT Modernization. The crux of the proposal is to invest the money in modernization to reduce costs, deliver new functionality, and overcome weaknesses in the systems that make them difficult, if not impossible, to secure.
Agencies have a tremendous opportunity to develop IT Modernization Roadmaps that position them for the resources they need. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) should consider the following in their plans:
* Embrace quick wins – Plan to demonstrate results early, growing confidence that funding will be spent well at your agency. Start now so that when money is available, you are ready to take quick action
* Align investments with long-term strategies – To select the best projects, incorporate the current program or agency strategy. For example, there is no need to update a system if its primary function will no longer be needed in a few years
* Engage with all stakeholders early and often – End users can be the greatest source of knowledge about modernization risks and bring mission knowledge that the development team does not have. To obtain quick buy-in, recruit motivated users to be advocates for modernization and serve as a communication channel to reach other users through a trusted source
* Embrace agile methods – Use agile methods and take advantage of Government resources such as 18F to accelerate modernization
* Think security first – Architect new releases and systems with security requirements in mind
* Plan with the data in mind – Data migration and the launch of the new system can be one of the riskiest parts of a modernization project. Develop a data strategy early. Test it to address quality issues. Diligently practice deployment to cutover flawlessly
An IT Modernization Roadmap needs to consider the mission benefits, sequence of modernization, risks and mitigation strategies. Governance for the Roadmap must include a cross-disciplinary team of mission leaders, system users, technology leaders and experts, and coaches with expertise in the latest methods to architect with the mission in mind.