March 16, 2009 By Hilton Collins
When state government workers in North Carolina get a faster response from the help desk, they can thank Bill Willis, the state's deputy CIO.
Willis spearheaded the Operational Excellence Program in 2005 to improve customer service and business efficiency for the state's Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). The program delivered dramatic results by using the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).
One benefit of that initiative was a 30 percent spike in service-desk productivity without increasing staff. Overall efficiency within the ITS also grew by 20 percent. Willis said ITIL adoption was crucial as the office gained more control of statewide IT operations.
"When I came to this state, I realized quickly that we had a number of problems. We had a brand-new law that changed the powers and ownership of the state CIO and gave him much more responsibility," Willis said.
The law in question, SB 991, was passed in 2004 and increased CIO George Bakolia's role in state IT oversight and planning. The bill aimed to improve IT by adopting standards and increasing accountability.
"Our central IT group runs as a service provider and is funded by revenues from services provided [to] agencies," Willis said. Implementing ITIL helped ITS personnel better track and direct projects while establishing improved incident, problem, service-level and change management processes.
A rise in efficiency is saving the state money. The average cost to resolve an incident dropped from $1,300 to $750, Willis said in 2007, after completion of the ITIL project's first phase. "That's $1.4 million a year in lower resources to resolve incidents, because we're doing it faster, cleaner, with less confusion."
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