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3 Tips for Success on Large Projects

Georgia Chief Information Officer Calvin Rhodes offers advice on how to approach a big project like the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

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The Georgia Technology Authority, led by state Chief Information Officer Calvin Rhodes, is at the helm of a highly visible, multi-agency project now under construction in Augusta. The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will unite many agencies under one roof, with the goal of growing the state's cyberworkforce, encouraging cyber-related industry and fostering improved collaboration with all the entities involved in cybersecurity, including law enforcement and the military. 

At the annual NASCIO conference last week in Austin, Rhodes offered three pieces of advice for others with a similarly ambitious project on their to-do list:

1. Identify your risk.
Rhodes determined early on that there were aspects of the project that he hadn't confronted before, and that he'd need to rely on the expertise of others.

"Make sure you pull those partners in to help you so that you can know as much as you can about the potential pitfalls you need to be conscious of," he said.

2. Ask for help.
The project's accelerated schedule doesn't leave time for delays. If he suspects an issue could impact his ability to deliver the end product, Rhodes doesn't hesitate to enlist help from higher-ranking officials.

"We've not been afraid to ask for assistance when we needed them to help nudge something along," he said. "And that's been extremely important as well."

3. Know your deadline. 
While pressure always exists for public projects to meet the estimated timeline for completion, in this case, Rhodes points out, the stakes are higher. Gov. Nathan Deal wants the facility open at the same time the Army Cyber Command is opening at nearby Fort Gordon. Close isn't good enough.

"We have a very specific date to be complete by and in operation," he said, "so that really helps the team know that's not a target; that's a real directive from the governor."

For more on the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, see the cover story in the October/November issue of Government Technology magazine. 

Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.