Business Projects by Robert Harris

Commercial Manager of high technology banking projects, Sydney Australia
U.S. Citizen, Australian Permanent resident- indefinite visa

Snapshot

I employ Cloud Computing to reduce your I.T. costs, Improve your customer experience and speed up your sales cycle.  I use Lean project management methods. - Robert Harris

How?

Reduce I.T. costs by moving appropriate I.T. applications (ie security, virus protection, spam control, creating documents, storing documents, performing storage backups) from "in house" or "outsourced" to completely web based & to industry best standards - including billing and payment.

Improve your customer experience and shorten your sales cycle by employing the newest and perhaps most value adding business applications available worldwide with maximum ease to use for customer, to minimise risk of being leapfrogged and to enable access to your company from mobile platforms such as tablets, iPads, iPhones, etc.

Every project follows a simple four step process:

 Steps to resultsDeliverable 
 1.  "Think" How can I lower costs or grow sales or retain customers for repeat business? Workshop and follow up bullet point papers and face to face delivery
 2.   "Plan" nominate actionable options and prioritise based upon alignment with corporate strategy.

 1 Customer Requirements document

 1 A4 page Action Plan

 1 draft Project Plan

 1 Project Initiation Checklist

 1 Consulting services agreement

 

 3.  "Do" execute to plan using rigid project management disciplines to measure progress and "ROI". Deliver project objectives every week in small digestible pieces with immediate appraisal of value
 4.  "Review" did customer benefits equal expectations?  What can change or improve?

 Rate performance across five key expectations:1 to 5

(1) Time to deliver, quality of ROI qualitative (1 to 5)

(2) quality of ROI (1 to 5)

(3) financial ROI (1 to 5)

(4) delivery as per budget and schedule (1 to 5)

(5) overall ease of working together to achieve results (1 to 5)

 

 Service OfferingDescription
Advise & inform Cloud computing and social networking for the Enterprise
  
Perform deft feasibility studies "what if" studies to test the feasibility of migration and transition of selected "in house" applications to Cloud based "applications"
  
Case studies Research, author, and deliver complete case studies of similar enterprises who have successfully transitioned a particular "in house" application to a Cloud based application.
  
Cost v Benfits Research, author, and deliver a detailed "numbers" savvy cost v benefits analysis of the transition from an "in house" application to a Cloud based application; including an ROI estimate.
  
Project Plans Research, author and deliver a detailed set of "project planning" documents to use as a base to sell the project to the "board".  This includes a Customer Requirements Document, and a Project Initiation Checklist.  All work is based on PMBOK and SDLC methodology.
  
Vendor selection Hands on translation of Project Plans into a seven step selection and engagement of a vendor.  Includes selection evaluation criteria, performance measurements, and contract terms and conditions negotiated.
  
Project Management  End to end delivery of the complete operating solution.
  
"Advise & inform" re: cloud computing & social network technology for the Enterprise.  Insure alignment between business objectives and IT benefits to the customers and workforce.

Perform small, deft feasibility studies re:  migration and transition from "in house" apps. to Cloud based apps.

Put together "case studies" re:  the cost vs benefits of transitioning "in house" apps. to Cloud based apps.

Put together "project planning" documents to empower "in house" IT staff to get max benefits from transition to Cloud

Hands on select the solution and vendor and negotiate the contract

Deliver the completed solution 

Explore other opportunities within your business to expand the use of "cloud based" solutions, where appropriate"Advise & inform" re: cloud computing & social network technology for the Enterprise.  Insure alignment between business objectives and IT benefits to the customers and workforce.

Perform small, deft feasibility studies re:  migration and transition from "in house" apps. to Cloud based apps.

Put together "case studies" re:  the cost vs benefits of transitioning "in house" apps. to Cloud based apps.

Put together "project planning" documents to empower "in house" IT staff to get max benefits from transition to Cloud

Hands on select the solution and vendor and negotiate the contract

Deliver the completed solution 

Explore other opportunities within your business to expand the use of "cloud based" solutions, where appropriate

 

Reference

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10097450

5 May 2010 Last updated at 23:04 GMT

Cloud computing for business goes mainstream

By Tim Weber Business editor, BBC News website

Investing in the cloud means less capital expenditure.

Cloud computing has been an information technology buzzword for many years. Now it is going mainstream.

Bryan Kinsella has a problem. As chief information officer of business services provider Rentokil Initial he looks after a widely dispersed and mobile workforce.

Email is a key management tool but as the company grew it found itself with 40 different email systems across 50 countries for 20,000 employees, with another 15,000 staff offline.

Setting up a new single email system with a global server infrastructure would have meant a massive capital expenditure.

Instead, he settled on a "cloud" solution, rolling out Google's enterprise email across the company. It's saving Rentokil about 70% in expenditure, he says, with lower support costs on top of that.

The Cloud explained

But what is cloud computing? In the simplest of terms, it is IT-as-a-Service. Instead of building your own IT infrastructure to host databases or software, a third party hosts them in its large server farms. Your company has access to its data and software over the internet (which in most IT diagrams is shown as a cloud).

Cloud fans claim five key benefits:

·         Cheap: your IT provider will host services for multiple companies; sharing complex infrastructure is cost-efficient and you pay only for what you actually use.

·         Quick: The most basic cloud services work out of the box; for more complex software and database solutions, cloud computing allows you to skip the hardware procurement and capital expenditure phase - it's perfect for start-ups.

·         Up-to-date: Most providers constantly update their software offering, adding new features as they become available.

·         Scaleable: If your business is growing fast or has seasonal spikes, you can go large quickly because cloud systems are built to cope with sharp increases in workload.

·         Mobile: Cloud services are designed to be used from a distance, so if you have a mobile workforce, your staff will have access to most of your systems on the go.

In other words: information technology becomes a utility, consumed like electricity, water, or even outsourced HR or payroll services, says Chuck Hollis, chief technology officer at information management company EMC. This year, he exhorts companies, "is the year to get your cloud strategy together."

Bear in mind, cloud computing is not new. Most of us are using the cloud already, through services like Hotmail, Flickr, Blogger and Facebook. It's business that has been slow in the take-up.

Using the cloud

For Bryan Kinsella, the cloud strategy is paying off at an enterprise level. So far his team has moved close to 10,000 staff on to Google's email services; another 10,000 will have migrated by the end of the year.

For a cloud, it has an awful lot of cables

"We never went into this to get cost reduction," says Mr Kinsella. It was about "unifying the business... to operate and collaborate on a global basis."

Now he is rolling out Google Sites to share documents across Rentokil and create intranets for both the global company and its many divisions.

It's this easy scaling that makes cloud-computing attractive. Insurance giant Aviva, for example, moved all its enterprise content management and business intelligence tools online, using Microsoft's Sharepoint online service.

Logistics firm Pall-Ex can grow fast and cheaply by moving much of its IT to UK hosting firm Outsourcery.

Universal Music is using the cloud computing services of e-commerce provider Venda to roll out its online store model across Europe.

"It's so expensive to build a world-class e-commerce platform, no single retailer can build it by themselves unless they are the size of Amazon," says James Cronin, chief technology architect at Venda.

Competition boosts cloud computing

Cloud computing can be applied nearly anywhere: the small retailer that needs a secure e-commerce website quickly and cheaply; the ferry operator that has huge computing spikes in May and June while 90% of its IT system idle the rest of the year; the fire service that needs extra computing power to predict the movement of forest fires during the summer.

Leave IT worries to your cloud provider

Cloud services range from fulfilling single business functions, say calculating payroll taxes, to outsourcing heavy-duty computing for complex 3-D modelling.

Many firms "have not moved significantly to cloud computing yet," acknowledges Cassio Dreyfuss at technology consultancy Gartner. But he predicts that "more dynamic" industries, "where business models change very fast, where competition is very hard... will move more quickly."

Right now, the cloud computing market is worth almost $2.4bn, says Gartner and predicts that by 2013 this will have grown to almost $8.1bn.

Get ready now and map your company's IT needs, says Mr Hollis. "If IT is your company's differentiator you may want to keep it in-house." But most IT is just another service that "can go the same way as other corporate functions like finance, logistics and manufacturing".

Storm clouds

Cloud computing is not without problems.

For starters, to be cheap cloud computing tasks need to be standardised. While traditional applications have many little-used features to cope with specialised needs, customising a cloud service costs extra.

For firms on a tight budget this may result in a few standard network solutions. However, it does not mean a standard look and feel. "I challenge you to spot that our customers' websites run on the same platform," says James Cronin at Venda. Plus most Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers roll-out newly developed features to other customers as well.

Usability is another issue. Some people, firmly wedded to "their" software, whether it's Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook, are reluctant to switch to plainer online applications. Rentokil's Bryan Kinsella counters that his migration team received few complaints.

Connectivity is another worry. The City of Los Angeles wants to move 34,000 employees to Google Apps, but there are complaints about speed and reliability - problems that may be rooted more in the city's internal network than Google's service.

But what if you go offline? Well, most SaaS providers offer resilient offline solutions. Microsoft - a late-comer to the cloud computing party - likes to point out that it offers proven offline applications like Microsoft Office that integrate with its new suite of online applications.

In cloud we trust

Security concerns are a much bigger issue. Will your corporate and customers' data be safe? What about data protection? Can you meet all legal compliance requirements?

"There are enormous security [...] and auditing risks that have not been addressed yet," says Gartner's Mr Dreyfuss.

Google's Dave Girouard says cloud computing has a good track record

"Cloud computing," warns a top expert for business security, "is the concentration of corporate risk in one single place."

Not so, say the providers of cloud services. "We put together multiple points of replication... multiple lines of defence... multiple levels of sophistication... that a single company just could not afford," says Jean-Philippe Courtois, the president of Microsoft International.

His words are echoed by all his competitors. Dave Girouard, the man in charge of Google's enterprise solutions, says "trust" is the issue customers raise most often when they explore whether cloud computing fits their business needs.

"There are now enough proof-points, enough track record for it to go mainstream," he says. "Company data are much safer inside Google than in a company's data centre."

Pushing Cloud 2.0

If Marc Benioff is not the high priest of cloud computing, then he's certainly its televangelist.

Marc Benioff predicts another IT revolution

Eleven years ago he founded salesforce.com. Today his "enterprise cloud computing company" is approaching annual revenues of $1.5bn.

Its key product, a cloud service for customer relationship management, is used by organisations ranging from small charities to computer maker Dell.

For years Mr Benioff has been repeating his "no software" mantra, arguing that the old IT and business models of companies like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle are broken.

Cloud computing, he says, is a total revolution of how we use and pay for software, and it is spreading fast.

His company now offers services like Force.com and Vmforce.com that provide developers platforms to build customised cloud services themselves.

Once belittled by rivals, he now revels in the fact that they all compete to prove their cloud computing credentials.

For Marc Benioff, though, one cloud is not enough.

These days he speaks about the transition to "Cloud 2.0". Just as he once queried why enterprise software was not more like Amazon, he now asks why it is not more like Facebook.

Enterprise computing is going mobile

Mr Benioff promises that new software like Salesforce's new Chatter will do just that.

"We are going through a major shift in computing," he says, where enterprise computing gets both more social (think collaboration) and mobile (think tablet computers, netbooks and smartphones).

Rentokil may be a case in point. Instant messaging software like "Google Chat has become a very powerful tool for us," says Mr Kinsella, while using Google's Android phones has made the enterprise software mobile. His new intranet, meanwhile, is getting a touch of YouTube: "We are using it carefully, but we now send out video messages to all employees, and they have the ability to comment."

Microsoft's direction is similar. It's new Office 2010 software, to be launched next week, makes steps to integrate both "social connections" and online services.

"People are working more and more from everywhere... home and workspace are merging," says Per-Olof Schroeder at Microsoft's Office software division.

Helpful downturn

Cloud firms are upbeat.

"The growth of cloud computing is phenomenal," says Fabio Torlini of hosting company Rackspace. "In the downturn all enterprises are asking 'what's safe to put in the cloud, and how can I save in the cloud'."

And there are other opportunities for growth. As connectivity improves, cloud computing can bring high-end IT services to developing countries.

Right now, says Google's Dave Girouard, cloud computing is just at the start of its evolution.

"All business computing will be more web-enabled," predicts Mr Dreyfuss at Gartner. "For some [companies] it will reach the point where it will be totally web centric."

More on This Story

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·         Storm warning for cloud computing 27 MAY 2008TECHNOLOGY

 

 

Clarence Leonard (kelly) Johnson
February 27, 1910 — December 21, 1990

 

http://www.nap.edu/readingroom.php?book=biomems&page=cjohnson.html 

The secret of Kelly Johnson's success was really no secret. He was not only one of the world's foremost designers, but he was an innovative manager who gave people who worked for him challenges to constantly create better products.

Many of us in the Skunk Works turned down promotions to other Lockheed organizations to stay with Kelly. And uppermost for Kelly was to stay with the Skunk Works. He was offered a company presidency at Lockheed three times--and three times he declined it. "To me," said Kelly, "there was no better job within the corporation than head of Advanced Development Projects--the Skunk Works."

Even when he retired from Lockheed as a corporate senior vice president in 1975, Johnson continued at the Skunk Works as a senior advisor. His influence continues in the Skunk Works. "Our aim," he said, "is to get results cheaper, sooner, and better through application of common sense to tough problems. If it works, don't fix it."

"Reduce reports and other paperwork to a minimum."

"Keep it simple, stupid--KISS--is our constant reminder."

Johnson instinctively knew how to select people for his organization. He knew how to get the most out of the fewest people and how to get the job done--well. He let his managers run their programs with a minimum of interference. He not only gave you the authority but also the responsibility.

As a man of high integrity himself, Johnson expected complete honesty from the people of the Skunk Works. Mistakes were allowed, but they were to be brought to his attention immediately. And Kelly also expected recommendations to correct mistakes.

He was firmly convinced of the importance of being honest with people, not just telling them what they wanted to hear. He emphasized the necessity of good communication, urging us always to ask a lot of questions.

One of Kelly's challenges to employees was a standing 25-cent bet against anyone who wanted to differ with him. It was not the quarter, of course, but the distinction of winning it from the boss, Kelly said. "It's another incentive. And I've lost a few quarters, too," he admitted. But not often, it must be noted.

Said President Lyndon Johnson when he presented the National Medal of Science to Johnson at the White House in 1966:

Kelly Johnson and the products of his famous Skunk Works epitomize the highest and finest goal of our society--the goal of excellence. His record of design achievement in aviation is both incomparable and virtually incredible. Any one of his many airplane designs would have honored any individual's career.

Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson died on December 21, 1990. He was married to the former Nancy Powers Horrigan. His first wife, Althea Louise Young Johnson, died in 1970. His second wife, MaryEllen Meade Johnson, died in 1980.

REFERENCES

 http://www.lean.org/WhatsLean/Principles.cfm

 

http://scobleizer.com/

 

State of cloud from Citrix CTO of cloud

This article is reprinted from Building43.

Simon Crosby is the CTO for Citrix’ cloud business. Don’t know what he runs? Citrix’ Xenserver is underneath Rackspace Cloud, OpenStack, as well as Amazon’s S3. In other words, Crosby sees the infrastructure that runs the most important cloud infrastructures. Here Robert Scoble sits down with him for a long talk about what he’s seeing. Some things that come out in this 37-minute talk?

1. Enterprises live on apps, and those apps need to run both as apps on desktops, but increasingly as SaaS apps running on cloud.
2. iPads and iPhones are really hammering at IT departments to get them to change their practices.
3. The importance of open source and open approaches, compared to VMware and other approaches.
4. How businesses will get into the API world, which enables more apps like Siri.
5. The enterprise’s biggest challenge? Security.
6. 3.5 million desktops have been virtualized in past few quarters, which lets IT departments be more secure, even with laptops that can get stolen and/or lost.
7. He lashes out at VMWare, saying it’s a “factor of 10″ more expensive than Citrix-based clouds.
8. Why Citrix is working with OpenStack and NASA to support opensource-based clouds.
9. How Citrix sells via different channels, direct to enterprise for some, through service providers, for others.
10. What he expects in 2011 in enterprise adoption of cloud technologies and how Apple is disrupting the enterprise. 40% of Citrix’ employees are bringing their own devices to work “incredible savings.”
11. What should developers pay attention to.
12. What mistakes enterprises are making when they get into cloud.
13. How OpenStack changes the world.

More info:
Citrix Xenserver website: http://www.citrix.com/English/ps2/products/product.asp?contentID=683148
Citrix: http://citrix.com/
Citrix on Twitter: http://twitter.com/citrix
OpenStack: http://openstack.com
Rackspace Cloud: http://www.rackspacecloud.com/
Simon Crosby on Twitter: http://twitter.com/simoncrosby

Full interview:

 

Reference                                                                                                                                                 White House Pledges Cloud Computing Approach to Federal IT  

 

White House Pledges Cloud Computing Approach to Federal IT

McLEAN, Va. -- In perhaps its most dramatic move yet toward reshaping the federal IT apparatus, the Obama administration on Friday announced a multipronged strategy to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste from the government's sprawling technology operations, including a mandate for all agencies to embrace cloud computing.

Speaking here at an event hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Jeffrey Zients, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), described a "cloud-first" policy that Obama plans to incorporate in the fiscal 2012 budget, directing IT managers across the federal government to look to lightweight, distributed IP-based systems ahead of building their own technologies in-house.

"Government agencies too often rely on proprietary, custom IT solutions. We need to fundamentally shift this mindset from building custom systems to adopting lighter technologies and shared solutions," Zients said.

"What this means is that going forward, when evaluating options for new IT development, OMB will require that agencies default to cloud-based solutions whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists."

The cloud computing initiative means that agencies will be asked to consider Web-based applications in areas like productivity and collaboration, but it also calls for a hard look at infrastructure. The administration has conducted a review of federal IT installations, and tallied more than 2,000 data centers across the country, many of which operate well below their peak capacity.

"The reason we're really, really focused on cloud computing is because it also allows us to bring in new ideas, new energy, new ways of solving some really, really difficult problems when it comes to information technology," Federal CIO Vivek Kundra said in a question-and-answer session following Zients' talk. "With the default policy towards cloud, what that really moves is behavior toward where agencies are going to provision IT rather than build wherever possible, especially when it comes to commodity IT."

Zients announced a goal of trimming the number of federal data centers by 40 percent by 2015, with more detailed plans for phasing out and consolidating specific locations to come in March.

Zients had been serving as acting director of OMB until the White House secured Senate confirmation of Jacob Lew yesterday afternoon to replace Peter Orszag as permanent head of the agency. He also serves the nation's first chief performance officer, and said this morning that remaking the hulking federal IT infrastructure is atop Obama's agenda for streamlining the internal workings of government.

"Too often, IT projects run over budget, behind schedule, or fail to deliver their promise of functionality," Zients said. "Fixing IT is central to everything we're trying to do across government. IT is our top priority."

The White House has taken a number of steps toward IT reform, including the launch of Apps.gov, an online portal for commercial vendors to showcase their cloud-based technologies for government IT buyers. The administration's tech team has also set up an online dashboard to track the spending and progress of IT deployments across the government, with the aim of generating more detailed reporting data to identify and either rehabilitate or terminate underperforming projects.

But the administration went a step further today, rolling out a set of policy changes that address every stage of the IT cycle, including budgeting, procurement and management.

To start, the White House is looking to bring the agency budgeting process into step with the acquisition period, reducing the lag time between when agencies must submit their initial funding requests for projects and the point when they make the purchase. Zients explained that agencies must submit detailed requests for IT projects two years in advance, while the acquisition process can then often drag on at least another year, resulting in the deployment of technology that is "almost definitionally out of date" by the time it arrives.

"The way we currently budget and acquire IT is broken," he said. "All of you know three years is forever in technology."

Of course, reforming the rules of bedrock bureaucratic functions like appropriations and procurement is not an overnight process, and Zients pledged that the administration would work with Congress as it looks to set up pilot programs across the agencies to craft a swifter IT acquisition cycle. But within existing rules are flexibilities that can also speed the process, he said, announcing the administration's initiative to recruit and train experts in the acquisition process to help the agencies better keep pace with the rapid evolution of commercial IT products.

Zients described the private-sector "productivity boom" that stemmed from the development of information technology over the last few decades, lamenting that the federal government began to fall behind in the 1980s, and has slipped steadily since.

"We can no longer accept a government that performs less effectively and less efficiently than the private sector," he said. "When you look inside a typical government operation, you're struck by the absence of many of the systems, processes and tools that we all take for granted in the private sector."

In that spirit, another administration objective is to drive closer collaboration with industry, which will include a "myth-busting" campaign to educate agency managers about the extent to which they are permitted to consult with members of the private sector before they veer into impropriety. Zients explained that many government managers have become so "risk averse" that they err, excessively, on the side of caution, consciously avoiding contact with business community for fear of breaking a rule.

Other elements of the White House reform push include efforts to streamline the overlapping and often duplicative layers of governance and oversight, replacing them with reconstituted investment review boards to evaluate the merit and progress of federal IT projects.

Additionally, Zients outlined a new initiative at the Office of Personnel Management that will aim to "professionalize" federal program managers, charting out a distinct career path for the stewards of government IT projects.

Taken together, the administration's announcements come as a response to the concern that federal IT has fallen hopelessly behind the private sector, both by measure of the types of technology in use and the methods by which projects are planned, implemented and managed.

"These reforms will enable us to move away from the grand design, boil-the-ocean approaches of the past to the agile, modular approaches that have transformed the success rate of IT projects in the private sector, by breaking projects into manageable chunks then demanding the functionality every few quarters, not every few years," Zients said.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


 

 

November 19, 2010
By 

Kenneth Corbin







McLEAN, Va. -- In perhaps its most dramatic move yet toward reshaping the federal IT apparatus, the Obama administration on Friday announced a multipronged strategy to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste from the government's sprawling technology operations, including a mandate for all agencies to embrace cloud computing.

Speaking here at an event hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Jeffrey Zients, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), described a "cloud-first" policy that Obama plans to incorporate in the fiscal 2012 budget, directing IT managers across the federal government to look to lightweight, distributed IP-based systems ahead of building their own technologies in-house.

"Government agencies too often rely on proprietary, custom IT solutions. We need to fundamentally shift this mindset from building custom systems to adopting lighter technologies and shared solutions," Zients said.

"What this means is that going forward, when evaluating options for new IT development, OMB will require that agencies default to cloud-based solutions whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists."

The cloud computing initiative means that agencies will be asked to consider Web-based applications in areas like productivity and collaboration, but it also calls for a hard look at infrastructure. The administration has conducted a review of federal IT installations, and tallied more than 2,000 data centers across the country, many of which operate well below their peak capacity.

"The reason we're really, really focused on cloud computing is because it also allows us to bring in new ideas, new energy, new ways of solving some really, really difficult problems when it comes to information technology," Federal CIO Vivek Kundra said in a question-and-answer session following Zients' talk. "With the default policy towards cloud, what that really moves is behavior toward where agencies are going to provision IT rather than build wherever possible, especially when it comes to commodity IT."

Zients announced a goal of trimming the number of federal data centers by 40 percent by 2015, with more detailed plans for phasing out and consolidating specific locations to come in March.

Zients had been serving as acting director of OMB until the White House secured Senate confirmation of Jacob Lew yesterday afternoon to replace Peter Orszag as permanent head of the agency. He also serves the nation's first chief performance officer, and said this morning that remaking the hulking federal IT infrastructure is atop Obama's agenda for streamlining the internal workings of government.

"Too often, IT projects run over budget, behind schedule, or fail to deliver their promise of functionality," Zients said. "Fixing IT is central to everything we're trying to do across government. IT is our top priority."

The White House has taken a number of steps toward IT reform, including the launch of Apps.gov, an online portal for commercial vendors to showcase their cloud-based technologies for government IT buyers. The administration's tech team has also set up an online dashboard to track the spending and progress of IT deployments across the government, with the aim of generating more detailed reporting data to identify and either rehabilitate or terminate underperforming projects.

But the administration went a step further today, rolling out a set of policy changes that address every stage of the IT cycle, including budgeting, procurement and management.

To start, the White House is looking to bring the agency budgeting process into step with the acquisition period, reducing the lag time between when agencies must submit their initial funding requests for projects and the point when they make the purchase. Zients explained that agencies must submit detailed requests for IT projects two years in advance, while the acquisition process can then often drag on at least another year, resulting in the deployment of technology that is "almost definitionally out of date" by the time it arrives.

"The way we currently budget and acquire IT is broken," he said. "All of you know three years is forever in technology."

Of course, reforming the rules of bedrock bureaucratic functions like appropriations and procurement is not an overnight process, and Zients pledged that the administration would work with Congress as it looks to set up pilot programs across the agencies to craft a swifter IT acquisition cycle. But within existing rules are flexibilities that can also speed the process, he said, announcing the administration's initiative to recruit and train experts in the acquisition process to help the agencies better keep pace with the rapid evolution of commercial IT products.

Zients described the private-sector "productivity boom" that stemmed from the development of information technology over the last few decades, lamenting that the federal government began to fall behind in the 1980s, and has slipped steadily since.

"We can no longer accept a government that performs less effectively and less efficiently than the private sector," he said. "When you look inside a typical government operation, you're struck by the absence of many of the systems, processes and tools that we all take for granted in the private sector."

In that spirit, another administration objective is to drive closer collaboration with industry, which will include a "myth-busting" campaign to educate agency managers about the extent to which they are permitted to consult with members of the private sector before they veer into impropriety. Zients explained that many government managers have become so "risk averse" that they err, excessively, on the side of caution, consciously avoiding contact with business community for fear of breaking a rule.

Other elements of the White House reform push include efforts to streamline the overlapping and often duplicative layers of governance and oversight, replacing them with reconstituted investment review boards to evaluate the merit and progress of federal IT projects.

Additionally, Zients outlined a new initiative at the Office of Personnel Management that will aim to "professionalize" federal program managers, charting out a distinct career path for the stewards of government IT projects.

Taken together, the administration's announcements come as a response to the concern that federal IT has fallen hopelessly behind the private sector, both by measure of the types of technology in use and the methods by which projects are planned, implemented and managed.

"These reforms will enable us to move away from the grand design, boil-the-ocean approaches of the past to the agile, modular approaches that have transformed the success rate of IT projects in the private sector, by breaking projects into manageable chunks then demanding the functionality every few quarters, not every few years," Zients said.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

 

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