I was recently asked how I start a typical workday. What one good habit can I share to help others manage end-to-end technology services? Without hesitation I responded, "I dial into our day-start call at 7:30 a.m. - even when I'm on the road."

"What's a day-start call?" was my colleague's reaction.

"Our goal is to deliver timely, enterprisewide information to key decision-makers at the start of each business day." I described how we rely on our Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)-based Service Management Center (SMC) to coordinate daily operational issues across our organization.

ITIL is a set of best practices meant to ease IT management's pain by creating well documented operational processes for tasks such as incident identification and resolution, service-related changes, and hardware and software updates that tie to service offerings.

The SMC is our enterprise's "eyes and ears," monitoring all operational activity on a 24/7 basis. It communicates status for incidents, problems and change management events that affect critical business applications and technology services for Michigan state government's executive-branch agencies.

Whether introducing new shared network components, tracking down what changed last night or troubleshooting ongoing system problems, an understanding of the big picture is essential for success. I urge you to watch this brief video that demonstrates the pragmatic benefits we've seen by using ITIL processes.

Government IT professionals need an all-encompassing, prioritized perspective to successfully address complex system issues for medium/large government operations. As we all strive to improve services and save government IT dollars, smarter coordination is a must. Specifically if you're consolidating operations, consider this approach. I would feel blind in directing our infrastructure staff without the SMC.

It wasn't always this way in Michigan. Our day-start calls began about four years ago and have evolved in various ways. While we communicate a massive amount of information in about 15 minutes, the major focus is always the operational status of critical business functions, like Secretary of State services. During several major virus outbreaks over the past four years, as well as two international Cyber Storm exercises, the SMC provided the essential processes, procedures and communication to ensure that all activities were coordinated.

How could your government head down this ITIL road? Here are some of the actions we took in Michigan:

o IT staff were trained on ITIL concepts, and key members are ITIL V3 certified at the foundation and practitioner levels.

o All incidents are now managed, tracked and communicated by the SMC until services have been restored. This has enabled a better response to quickly resolving critical service outages.

o All IT business services are classified by criticality of service. "Urgent" services may impact the life and safety of our citizens, and these are tracked 24/7. A "red card" of critical applications was generated that has become standard issue for state agencies.

o A current operations status board is available in five office areas, including the executive offices. As employees walk by the incident board, they check it for new incidents that may affect their service areas.

o In the event of an enterprisewide service outage, the SMC assists with the activation of the department's Emergency Coordination Center (ECC). The department's emergency management team is assembled and the emergency is managed until resolution, using the same tools and processes we use daily to manage IT incidents. The ECC coordinates with our state Emergency Operations Center.

o Post-incident review and root cause analysis are performed on all major incidents.

When I started my career at the National Security Agency 25 years ago, I was taught the wisdom of the adage, "You don't know what you don't know." In recent years, I've learned that with ITIL practices such as a day-start call, you'll know a lot more about what's happening in your enterprise.

Dan Lohrmann Dan Lohrmann  |  Contributing Writer

Daniel J. Lohrmann became Michigan's first chief security officer (CSO) and deputy director for cybersecurity and infrastructure protection in October 2011. Lohrmann is leading Michigan's development and implementation of a comprehensive security strategy for all of the state’s resources and infrastructure. His organization is providing Michigan with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with Michigan assets, property, systems and networks.

Lohrmann is a globally recognized author and blogger on technology and security topics. His keynote speeches have been heard at worldwide events, such as GovTech in South Africa, IDC Security Roadshow in Moscow, and the RSA Conference in San Francisco. He has been honored with numerous cybersecurity and technology leadership awards, including “CSO of the Year” by SC Magazine and “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine.

His Michigan government security team’s mission is to:

  • establish Michigan as a global leader in cyberawareness, training and citizen safety;
  • provide state agencies and their employees with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with state of Michigan assets, property, systems and networks;
  • develop and implement a comprehensive security strategy (Michigan Cyber Initiative) for all Michigan resources and infrastructure;
  • improve efficiency within the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget; and
  • provide combined focus on emergency management efforts.

He currently represents the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) on the IT Government Coordinating Council that’s led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also serves as an adviser on TechAmerica's Cloud Commission and the Global Cyber Roundtable.

From January 2009 until October 2011, Lohrmann served as Michigan's chief technology officer and director of infrastructure services administration. He led more than 750 technology staff and contractors in administering functions, such as technical architecture, project management, data center operations, systems integration, customer service (call) center support, PC and server administration, office automation and field services support.

Under Lohrmann’s leadership, Michigan established the award-winning Mi-Cloud data storage and hosting service, and his infrastructure team was recognized by NASCIO and others for best practices and for leading state and local governments in effective technology service delivery.

Earlier in his career, Lohrmann served as the state of Michigan's first chief information security officer (CISO) from May 2002 until January 2009. He directed Michigan's award-winning Office of Enterprise Security for almost seven years.

Lohrmann's first book, Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web, was published in November 2008.  Lohrmann was also the chairman of the board for 2008-2009 and past president (2006-2007) of the Michigan InfraGard Member's Alliance.

Prior to becoming Michigan's CISO, Lohrmann served as the senior technology executive for e-Michigan, where he published an award-winning academic paper titled The Michigan.gov Story — Reinventing State Government Online. He also served as director of IT and CIO for the Michigan Department of Management and Budget in the late 1990s.

Lohrmann has more than 26 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a U.S./UK military facility.

Lohrmann is a distinguished guest lecturer for Norwich University in the field of information assurance. He also has been a keynote speaker at IT events around the world, including numerous SecureWorld and ITEC conferences in addition to online webinars and podcasts. He has been featured in numerous daily newspapers, radio programs and magazines. Lohrmann writes a bimonthly column for Public CIO magazine on cybersecurity. He's published articles on security, technology management, cross-boundary integration, building e-government applications, cloud computing, virtualization and securing portals.

He holds a master’s degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

NOTE: The columns here are Dan Lohrmann's own views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the state of Michigan's official positions.

Recent Awards:
2011 Technology Leadership Award: InfoWorld
Premier 100 IT Leader for 2010: Computerworld magazine
2009 Top Doers, Dreamers and Drivers: Government Technology magazine
Public Official of the Year: Governing magazine — November 2008
CSO of the Year: SC Magazine — April 2008
Top 25 in Security Industry: Security magazine — December 2007
Compass Award: CSO Magazine — March 2007
Information Security Executive of the Year: Central Award 2006