The concept of shared IT services in state government triggers a lot of conversations for the benefits it can deliver. But the reality of what needs to take place and the risks involved makes it a hard concept to bring to fruition. That’s why everyone has their eye on Pennsylvania as it becomes the latest state to transform to a shared services model.
Making it happen are two unique individuals who have years of experience working with IT, but also an innate understanding of what makes shared services a reality. John MacMillan, chief information officer, and his boss, Sharon Minnich, secretary of the Office of Administration, have their work cut out for them. But they also have a partnership that has resulted in a laudable plan to reduce disparities across the enterprise, from project development to delivering services, while driving down costs.
“One of the things that has made this initiative successful is the working relationship that John and I have,” said Minnich. “John’s background in both the public and private sector has helped us understand strategically where we want to go. It’s a partnership that has really allowed us to collaborate in terms of strategies and execution.”
For MacMillan, working with Secretary Minnich, who had years of experience working in the IT sector before entering government, gives him a partner who understands the challenges and opportunities that come with technology and can convey that message to decision-makers. “Her philosophy is contagious,” he said. “It’s about identifying what can be done and making things better where it’s possible. She can sort through the important things and keep us focused.”
When it comes to shared services, knowledge about technology is just a piece of what is needed for success. Talk to the experts and they will tell you that ultimately it requires top-notch communication skills, as well as organizational and management acumen. Minnich praises MacMillan for his skills at communicating and managing at both the strategic and operational level to keep the effort on track. MacMillan is just as grateful for Minnich’s ability to use the support of the governor to keep the initiative moving in the right direction, to manage the naysayers and to keep everyone focused on what’s good for the enterprise.
“Team effort” might sound like a cliché, but in the case of Pennsylvania’s most transformative IT project to date, it is very real and it works.
With more than 20 years of experience covering state and local government, Tod previously was the editor of Public CIO, e.Republic’s award-winning publication for information technology executives in the public sector. He is now a senior editor for Government Technology.