Employee engagement, cost benefit key to shared services discussions

Although Vermont has been using shared services since the 1990s, the state’s most recent consolidation has positioned its shared services for maximum impact, the state’s CIO says.

On the latest episode of Priorities, John Quinn, whom Gov. Phil Scott appointed as the state’s chief information officer in April 2017, says creation of the state’s Agency of Digital Services in 2017 prepared it to maximize the benefit of shared services statewide.

“[The creation of the agency] was probably the last step or the last step for a while in the evolution of our shared services,” Quinn says on the podcast. “What that did was reorganize all of IT to bring it under the Agency of Digital Services. Since we did that, we’ve been looking at different services that are offered in different areas of government and we’ve been evaluating whether or not the shared services model is right for those different systems and shared services or applications.”

During that process, Quinn says, weighing the potential benefit of the services was key to making a huge impact — and so was the inclusion of the potentially affected employees.

“What we saw was you really have to evaluate the services in all aspects of the shared service. You have to look at the cost, you have to look at the resources, the timing and your overall strategy — where is it that you want your organization to end up in the end and does [shared services] further those goals? Does it reduce cost? Does it provide a better service?” Quinn says. “Can you get more capacity out of your employees? One thing we found really important was to make sure employees understand what you’re doing — bringing them along in the process is critical to making sure that everyone is on the same page for where you’re headed.”

On the podcast:

  • John Quinn, chief information officer, Vermont
  • Jake Williams, associate publisher and director of strategic initiatives, StateScoop

What to listen for:

  • Vermont has taken the approach of evaluating each individual system and service state government provides using technology. With that approach, the state looks at whether it advances the goals of the state, reduces cost and improves the citizen experience.
  • Quinn sees opportunity for further shared services expansion in Vermont in the next year.
  • After the state IT consolidation, Quinn says he expects continuing to look at some of the state’s enterprise applications that were not consolidated and consider shared services if they’re used in at least half the agencies across state government.
  • Customer relationship management could provide an opportunity for a shared service in state government, Quinn says.
  • Going forward, Quinn sees the state’s infrastructure footprint shrinking as cloud services become more available.

Priorities is StateScoop’s podcast chronicling the top 10 priorities of state chief information officers. The show is based on the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual list of top 10 priorities, and produced in partnership with the association.