Photo: Leigh Wilkinson, Maine OIT Staff Writer

Used with permission from the Maine Office of Information Technology

Over a period of nine days and multiple sessions, Office of Information Technology (OIT) staff along with representatives from the Division of Purchases met to discuss the current OIT procurement process. The sessions were facilitated by, Nancy Forrester.

The goals for these sessions were to:

  • Improve speed of procurement cycles -- we needed to be more responsive to customer needs both in speed and flexibility.
  • Improve work cycle time from defining an order through receiving an order and paying the bill.
  • Improve customer satisfaction with our timeliness and effectiveness in managing their PC equipment and software needs.

The process followed was:

Step 1: define the current process by creating a detailed process map

Step 2: complete an examination of procurement best practices across the IT industry

Step 3: look for root causes in the process that produce delays and non-value added activities.

Step 4: redesign the process to increase effectiveness and improve customer satisfaction.

After completing each step the group presented their results to the sponsors; key stakeholders from OIT and Purchases. Each presentation ended with the stakeholder's group approval to proceed to the next step in the project.

In the final presentation, the target was defined as "Reduce the annual rework and the unnecessary hours by 3,261 (75 percent) within 1.5 years."

"Root Cause Problem Analysis" led to the discovery of four 'Critical Failure Factors' (CFF) that need to be resolved in order to reach the process improvement target.

These CFF factors and suggested solutions are:

  • Excessive approval process - the process has too many approval layers which cause delays between each step. The suggested solutions include removing or modifying some approval steps and supplying a procurement card to the build center for some critical purchases.
  • Lack of published and supported standards for assessment and procurement of IT related items and services - Technicians spend significant time negotiating with customers and with each other due to the lack of published standards for: assessing IT equipment needs at the customer level; defined technical specifications and usability for equipment for most common customer needs; a list of supported and authorized standard software; a defined process for technicians to use to assess customer needs; an exception process to manage special customer needs or requirements outside of approved standards.
  • Cumbersome work flow systems - there is a need to identify delay cycles, reduce unnecessary tasks like excessive copying of billing and other documentation.
  • Ineffective partnerships with vendors specific to the procurement process - many delays are caused by multiple shipments, out of stocks or delayed response times, and a lengthy process of creating quotes, approvals, and order cycles that can take as much as 3 months to complete.

A steering committee was created to manage the improvement project team and support the implementation. The project team began the work of completing the list of solutions suggested with the assistance of the Project Management Office (PMO) in organizing and tracking activity.

At this point we have completed the following elements:

CFF 1: Inadequate approval process - approvals have been streamlined and formalized to speed up the completion of orders. The use of the procurement card process for special orders has been established.

CFF 2: Lack of published and supported standards for assessment and procurement of IT related items and services -

  • Software standards are being created by a group comprised of the Desktop Technology group, representatives of several large agencies, and OIT security. A list
Leigh Wilkinson  |  Maine OIT Staff Writer