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Showing posts from November, 2008

Finding Public Sector IT Best Practices

I never cease to be amazed at the amount of information available to anyone with the Web, a search engine, and some time to dig. There are huge bodies of work from management consultants which are freely available, especially for the public sector, where laws call for open access.

Associations for government agencies such as the Federal CIO Council, the National Association of Counties, National Association of State Chief Information Officers, local councils of government and the state associations are a great place to start. For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has published a guide on e-permitting. Harvard University hosts a site for government innovation. Portland State University published a collection of best practices that includes insight on solving traffic congestion and increasing public transportation ridership.

A great way to start a new project is with research on what has gone on before. We can learn from the successes and failures of othe…

How to Save $1 Million Right Now

In our challenging economic environment, state and local governments are likely to face increasing demand for services at the same time as tax receipts shrink from reduction in property values and transaction-generated revenue such as sales tax.

To succeed, government leaders must think outside the box, taking lessons from other governments and from the commercial sector. What does this mean in practical terms, and how can agencies continue to fulfill their missions in light of tight of shrinking budgets?


First, I think this is a time to reassess priorities and cut spending on projects that don't serve the core goals of your agency. Many state and local governments can find $1 million or more in information technology funding that can be saved. For instance:
Use it or lose it. Computer hardware and software don't usually improve with age. If you bought something that has not been put in the hands of users in twelve months, you are not getting value from your technology upgrades. …

007 Gadget Coming to Your Conference Room Soon

We are more excited about Microsoft Surface than any hardware we have seen in a long time. It is irresistable to people of all ages and truly is a different way to interact with a computer than a keyboard and a mouse.

You may have seen Microsoft Surface or other touch screen devices on CSI, MSNBC, or even in the latest James Bond movie. Don't be surprised if one pops up in you conference room.

Infostrat has developed a number of solutions, and we are posting videos of them like this:



Check out our YouTube channel to learn more about this innovative technology.

A Third Option

Today one of my clients told me that word of xRM (Microsoft CRM as a development platform) is starting to spread. He said that other state and local governments have been contacting him to find out how he is solving business problems with an option that lies between writing custom applications from scratch or settling for the features of an expensive packaged line of business solution.

With budgets tightening around the world, government agencies need more cost effective ways to address the needs of constituents. Could xRM be part of the solution? My clients think the answer is yes.

Even as deficits rise, especially as economic conditions worsen, the demands for government services will continue to grow. This is true at all levels of government, but particularly for local government, because it touches citizens directly. Local government must respond to demands for services, and budget shortfalls are not a sufficient excuse not to take action.

I suggest that before the New Year you cat…

Getting Your Feet Wet in the Cloud

When it comes to new technology, the first time is often the most difficult. I remember my reluctance to give up bank tellers and try the ATM, or even the way I used to get a receipt printed every time I paid for fuel with a credit card at the pump.

It took me a long time to trust online transactions, but eventually I became comfortable forking over payments to companies I had known only since my last web search. Now I'm much more likely to buy online than at a store.

So it will be with cloud computing. The first transaction will involve the greatest deliberation, consideration and worry. If the experience is positive, more forays will follow.

If you want to test out cloud computing, find a few services to pilot. It's not hard to find something that is inexpensive and low risk. Go ahead and sign up to give it a go. Here are some from Microsoft that are worth a look today:

1. Office Live Workspace view and share documents online
2. Live Search Maps publish your collectio…

Cloud Computing Excuses

I have been conducting an informal poll on cloud computing around my office and with consultants from other information technology consulting firms. I start by asking about the recent cloud computing announcements from Microsoft and other market leaders.

Everyone I have spoken to tells me they are excited about cloud computing and want to learn more about it. Microsoft's investment in development of cloud computing infrastructure makes it more legitimate and puts it in reach of more developers. Even my government customers tell me cloud computing is interesting and the shape of things to come.

Then I ask "who do you know who is using cloud computing today?" and I get a blank stare. I hear about some major customers cited by the vendors but none of my contacts knows real, live customers personally who are betting on cloud computing.

Part of the problem is that we are still waiting for the technology and the business model to solidify. Microsoft allows developers to us…