Business Intelligence Dashboards Simplify Regulation Compliance for Social Service Agency

Mary Shamouel, CIO of the Santa Clara County, Calif., Social Services Agency, discusses streamlined evaluation process.

by , / November 24, 2010
Mary Shamouel, CIO of the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency. Photo courtesy of the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency. Photo courtesy of the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency

When Mary Shamouel became CIO of the Santa Clara County, Calif., Social Services Agency in 2007, she faced a barrage of skepticism regarding her goal to deploy business intelligence dashboards, which simplified the process of evaluating the agency’s compliance with various regulations by systematically and comprehensively displaying certain tasks. By bringing employees on board, Shamouel ultimately deployed agencywide dashboards that help the county make systematic evaluations.

Describe the challenges you faced before deploying business intelligence.

We were spending weeks and weeks, and department managers and supervisors were dependent on report writers to generate reports. Those reports were not static, but they were not timely. The business wasn’t able to make decisions or make sure they were complying with some of the mandates that were coming their way because they lacked the necessary means to get the information on demand. The goal for business intelligence, in a nutshell, is to do that — to allow the business to make solid, wise, meaningful decisions.

Did you face much pushback?

I think the stigma when I started bringing the data warehouse and business intelligence into the agency was other agencies had tried that and failed. [They said], “It’s not going to be successful. It’s going to be costly. It’s going to take forever, and you will not succeed.”

How did you help skeptical employees digest these changes?

We did it on a phased approach because I wanted to show chunks of successful deliverables that would get the business excited and get me buy-in to move forward. We have been very successful.

What final observations do you want to make now that the project is finished?

We are not done. Every milestone, every deliverable — the business was right there beside us, excited. They’re using it; they’re touting it. Even those who were against this from the get-go, they want to be honored for this. That is the biggest success — when you have people who were against this [and] now they want to honored and take the credit for it, which is great.


Andy Opsahl

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.

Karen Stewartson Managing Editor
Platforms & Programs