Information Technology Strategy and Execution Services

Information Technology Strategy and Execution Services

About the Engagement

After New York’s five super storms in 2012, the state created a temporary agency to distribute 4.4 billion dollars in federal funds to homeowners, small businesses, and municipalities. From the start, technology served as the foundation for this nascent disaster recovery organization. With continually shifting policies, strategies, and goals, the Information Technology (IT) team was forced to create a complex set of applications for processing, analyzing, reporting, and storing critical data and documents for dozens of programs.

Business Problem

The clients’ technology solutions and processes were developed quickly, and in silos because they needed to immediately begin releasing funds/benefits. Therefore, the client sought a partner who could re-engineer the complex architecture of dozens of disparate systems that needed to be maintained or rearchitected.

Challenges

A consistent challenge across the agency was a lack of centralized strategies, techniques, and frameworks which presented unique complexities. Examples of these include varying customer service and support strategies for both staff and applications, varying frameworks and processes (or the lack thereof) resulting in missing quality assurance and quality control procedures for critical applications and departments, and inconsistent monitoring and maintenance of software through the software development lifecycle.

Project Impacts and Outcomes

The engagement team provided technology strategy and execution services support to the client’s Chief Information Officer, which included the following:

  • Current-state and future-state IT organizational assessment to determine and implement technology change management initiatives to improve technology delivery.
  • Future-state business architecture to help determine future-state IT organizational capabilities, roles and responsibilities and staffing plans.
  • Portfolio and project management support, including software architecture and design, business requirements development, testing and release management support.
  • Comprehensive training modules to create structure and internal capabilities in technology delivery for project managers, business analysts, and developers.

Through the engagement team’s strategy and execution support, the client’s IT team has significantly improved its service delivery capabilities, including on-time delivery of projects and improved customer service. This work has helped train and empower the client’s IT team to be more customer-centric and improve delivery of services.

Communication Strategy and Operations

Communication Strategy and Operations

About the Engagement 

At the onset of the 2020 pandemic, a state-level agency received the task to distribute funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), acting as a grantee in the nationwide initiative that amassed approximately $46.5 billion. The program aimed to deliver substantial economic relief to assist households with low and moderate income who were at risk of homelessness or housing instability by offering support with rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears. In addition, the agency created the Landlord Rental Assistance Program (LRAP), which provides rental assistance for landlords whose tenants are unwilling to apply for the ERAP, including where the tenant has left the rental property. 

Business Problem 

The agency had to develop internal policies and procedures to erect a grant management and administration operation within weeks. One of the business problems is that the agency required a comprehensive communication strategy and implementation plan to ensure efficient operations, to support timely grant relief disbursement.  

Challenges 

Due to the nature of the grant program to expend relief to two related but uniquely different audiences, a key challenge was ensuring adequate stakeholder management, specifically factoring in needs of both tenants and landlords. Within each stakeholder group, there were complicating factors and nuances around communication for each. Examples include: 

  • ERAP 
    • Communication approaches were needed for both tenant and landlord. 
    • Tenant communications needed to be available in different mediums (email, postal mail, and text). 
    • Text messaging, while convenient, also had limitations due to character limits. 
    • Landlord communications were focused on one medium, email; however, tenants were not required to provide an owner email address. In those cases, an alternative method, such as text (e.g., application submission) or call (e.g., automated calling) were used to provide important updates.  
    • Owner communication was provided only in English, while tenant communication was available in nine language translations, with the most common being English and Spanish.  
  • LRAP 
    • The LRAP was designed for Landlord communication primarily, with all communication notices being sent only in one medium, email, and one language, English.  
    • The one exception to this communication was payment notices; payment approval notices were sent to tenants by postal mail, in two translations: English and Spanish. 
    • Beyond payment notices, there was no defined tenant communication, because Landlords were not required to provide the tenant email address, which stifled the completeness of the data point. 

Project Impacts and Outcomes 

The engagement team worked with the ERAP and LRAP project leaders to develop the overall communications plan for tenants and landlords. The communication plan improved program communication and led to increased satisfaction from program participants. Notable implemented successes were: 

  • Communication Database: The communication database is the central repository for all matters pertaining to tenant or landlord communication.  
  • Communication Tracker: The communication tracker serves as the resource which identifies all outgoing communication, including the following data points: unique identifier, type of communication, audience/recipient, medium, number of applications impacted, due date of notice(s), status, and file path for the shared storage location.  
  • Customer Service Representative Portal: Bulk communications were managed through a central technology for transmittal in all mediums: emails, postal mail, and text. 
  • Client Review Tracker: The client review tracker captures notifications requiring the agency’s review, response, and/or approval, and includes a status/resolution of the notification. 
  • Notification Templates: Templates were created to support consistent, streamlined, and accurate stakeholder communication for tenants and landlords. 
  • Technology Oversight: The engagement team worked directly with development on application enhancements, routine maintenance, and as-needed bug fixes. 
Agile Operations Delivery Team

Agile Operations Delivery Team

About the Engagement 

At the onset of the 2020 pandemic, a state-level agency received the task to distribute funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), acting as a grantee in the nationwide initiative that amassed approximately $46.5 billion. The program aimed to deliver substantial economic relief to assist households with low and moderate income who were at risk of homelessness or housing instability by offering support with rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears. 

Business Problem 

With households experiencing financial troubles, the agency needed to begin delivering relief funds as soon as possible. The agency had to ensure compliance with state and federal rules and regulations, develop internal policies and stand-up a massive grant management and administration operation within weeks. Specifically, the agency needed to develop processes and procedures to support application submission, applicant verification, benefits calculation, and documentation storage and maintenance. Lastly, given the priority to deliver relief funds as quickly as possible, the operational teams needed to be ready to accommodate changing policies, organizational governance, and technology on a week-to-week basis.  

Challenges 

Within the engagement, the primary challenge was system architecture and design. The system architecture/design was critical to ensure timely and efficient grant distribution. In addition, the system had to be accessible by varying stakeholders, with varying roles and aligned to the criteria set by lawmakers. The risk assessment(s) all pointed to prospective flaws in the system. 

Project Impacts and Outcomes 

The engagement team implemented a series of systems and processes to address the high stakes need for the agency to award grants to applicants. Specifically, the team implemented: 1) Governance to ensure a model for operation and oversight of the program, with a goal of customer ease and satisfaction with the program; 2) Management/Supervision to ensure a defined understanding of decision-makers and all roles; 3) Training to support knowledge and understanding of the technology and use end-to-end among all user types; 4) Quality Assurance protocols for accuracy at all levels of engagement; and, 5) Traceability between agency goals and customer service representatives to ensure everyone understood the goals and the guiding principles to make them actionable in day-to-day operations. 

Needs Assessment and Requirements Gathering Process Development

Needs Assessment and Requirements Gathering Process Development

About the Engagement 

In June 2013, following the occurrences of Hurricanes Irene and Lee, and Superstorm Sandy, a state-level disaster recovery organization was created to focus on recovery and rebuilding efforts for effective areas of New York State. The agency’s aid focused on four areas: housing recovery, small business, community reconstruction and infrastructure. 

Business Problem 

In the beginning, the agency’s goal was to deliver benefits to citizens as quickly as possible. As a result, business processes and business requirements were developed with the best knowledge and understanding at the time. These original processes and requirements were adequate but not the optimal business processes and technology.  

The engagement team identified three areas of focus: current-state assessment and analysis, future-state requirements and optimization, and change management, recognizing that software development processes were not formalized and therefore created challenges upstream and downstream. 

Challenges 

The first challenge was managing a large group of stakeholders with competing priorities, interests, and understanding of pain points. Another challenge was maintaining varying agile, hybrid-agile and waterfall software development lifecycle approaches, since multiple systems, or lack of, were used inefficiently. The final challenge was staff proficiency with systems and this challenge showcased the need to develop strategies to support staff in their use of systems and applications.  

Project Impacts and Outcomes 

The engagement team worked across various programs, each with multiple departments, and shared services to gain an understanding of the existing pain points with user flows and the system interfaces to understand current-state processes. From there, the team developed future-state user flows and system requirements (e.g., screens, field requirements, etc.) with the goal of optimized workflows. To support staff learning, usage, and understanding the team implemented training and presentations with associated documentation for reference. Staff were trained in quality assurance and quality check procedures. Following this, the team worked with the agency to architect the ideal technology solution, which resulted in an organizational shift to more consumer-driven software development business processes. To complement the future-state recommendations for optimization, the team created a change management roadmap and detailed plan. The team enabled the client to actualize the vision and meet the goal of confidently delivering software enhancements meeting programmatic needs, on-time, and within budget. Through implementation of the change management initiatives across the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), the client’s improved internal processes have enabled staff to ensure better communication and efficient workflows. In addition, the enterprise software and underlying technology are flexible and robust for ongoing needs. Ultimately, the client is able to meet programmatic needs on time and on budget. 

 

 

 

 

 

M/WBE Customer Experience Journey Map

M/WBE Customer Experience Journey Map

About the Engagement 

The mayor’s office in one of the largest cities in the nation created a program to support minority and/or women-owned businesses (M/WBE). The program’s goal was to empower and support minority and women-owned businesses to foster economic growth, diversity, and inclusivity within the city’s business landscape.  

Business Problem  

The mayor’s office identified that there was a significant challenge within the M/WBE certification process. The engagement team’s goal was to identify and alleviate pain points that hindered efficient certification for minority and women-owned businesses. The complexity of the process often discouraged potential applicants and slowed down the growth of M/WBEs in the city. 

Challenges 

Some of the challenges that the engagement team experienced were administrative bottlenecks, unclear documentation requirements, and delays in the evaluation and approval process. In addition, the engagement team had to create and present the benefits of journey mapping. This process included identifying and defining key customers and services, identifying customer pain points, assessing strengths and areas for growth to improve customer experience and empowering critical experiences and perspectives that were underrepresented or misunderstood. 

Project Impacts and Outcomes  

The engagement team collaborated with the mayor’s office to build comprehensive journey maps, or data-driven visual representations of what customers experience (e.g., pain and love points) in their interactions with an organization. These maps covered the end-to-end lifecycle of a M/WBE’s experience working in the city, from applying for certification to bidding and winning contracts with the city. As a result of the engagement team’s efforts, the project achieved several notable outcomes: 

  • Business Participation: The simplified and user-friendly application process attracted a higher number of applicants, reflecting increased interest and engagement in the M/WBE Program. 
  • Diversity and Inclusivity: By addressing the pain points in the certification process, the M/WBE program fostered greater diversity and inclusivity within the city’s business landscape, aligning with the overarching goals of the mayor’s initiative. 
  • Stakeholder Satisfaction: Stakeholders, including M/WBE owners, program administrators, and city officials, reported satisfaction with recommendations outlined by the engagement team, communicating that this effort will drive to improved communication, transparency, and efficiency.