As state and local government IT budgets get smaller and responsibilities grow, that’s also causing agency technology portfolios to shrink. For many agencies, that means possibly shifting the balance of your IT budgeting away from operations and maintenance toward a bit more innovation. Maintaining your technology portfolios while working on technology innovation will require some assistance — namely, outsourcing.
Outsourcing has its share of positives and negatives but in general, it provides an excellent cost-saving avenue for IT organizations. Not everything can be outsourced or even should be, but routine operations and maintenance of systems is a perfect venue for outsourcing, and that’s just what’s at the top of many IT organizations’ lists.
Here are five areas where outsourcing makes sense:
1. Eliminating Data Center Management
Chief information officers shouldn’t be in the business of managing data centers, which requires a great deal of manpower and time to make sure uptime and operations run smoothly. States like Arizona have outsourced this through a public-private partnership and are seeing excellent results through strong uptime performance. Expect to see even more states outsourcing this service to the private sector.
2. Removing On-Premise Data Storage
It’s no secret that state and local governments collect and maintain great deals of information, but much of it simply sits in storage and eventually becomes obsolete. Some governments are moving away from storing this legacy data and instead turning to off-premise and vendor-hosted storage options. This type of arrangement results in significant cost savings for organizations and frees up data center bandwidth. Off-premise or vendor-hosted storage options also provide an array of analytics options, which means IT organizations might be able to glean some intelligence from their data.
3. Limiting In-House Data Maintenance
State and local IT departments are often running short staffed, which means less time to tackle the myriad projects in the pipeline and less time to perform routine data updates and maintenance. Removing the routine task of data maintenance from an IT organization frees up time to focus on “infrastructure and systems to ensure data is properly collected, stored, retrieved, integrated and stored,” according to Lea Deesing, chief innovation officer for Riverside, Calif. The IT industry will increasingly provide a range of duties, from outsourced data maintenance to decentralized data maintenance done by each agency.
4. Shifting Development of Small Applications
As data-sharing practices increase and governments make more of their data available to the public, citizens have become the innovators, developing niche applications that IT organizations once did. Los Angeles CIO Ted Ross explained that this type of arrangement would “free up IT staff to build APIs and integrate data sources. Also, this helps ensure that apps are very responsive to agency needs.” State and local governments should get more help from IT companies in preparing data for public sharing through data analysis and manipulation.
5. Managing Passwords
Security, security, security. It’s everyone’s favorite word, and one that’s always at the top of the technology priority list. However, often overlooked are the mundane tasks of patch and password management — two areas critical to an overall security posture. IT organizations recognize that the weakest link in any security plan is often their own employees. The key to that is their ability to remember each of the passwords they need to function across all the necessary systems. State and local governments will turn to technology companies for multifactor security or identity and access management.
Many state and local government IT organizations are struggling with lofty technology upgrades and modernizations and lack of funds in 2017. Outsourcing will only grow in 2017 as agencies turn to technology companies for help with everything from data center management to encouraging citizen application development through easy access to government data.
Rachel Eckert is a state and local government and education consultant with immixGroup, an Arrow company that helps technology companies do business with the government. Reach out to Rachel at www.linkedin.com/in/racheleckert