For the past few months, I conducted extensive interviews with a team at Booz Allen Hamilton that has been implementing new collaborative solutions for various departments within the U.S. federal government. This multi-part series will explore how these solutions were implemented, ranging from business drivers to change management to lessons learned.
This is part one in an in-depth series on how the federal government is implementing Enterprise 2.0.
What are the business drivers for Enterprise 2.0 in the federal government? In a word, the economy. The federal government is being asked to do much more with less. The recession that has engulfed the nation is also making it tough to secure budgets innovative system initiatives such as enterprise 2.0. In the past, government leaders could secure the budget for large Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations projects with little scrutiny. However, now the same type of funding, and even the will to consider ERP implementation, is no longer there. The federal government needs faster, more intuitive and more cost-effective solutions to solve existing and new problems.
Preparing for the New Workforce
Current and near future demographics are also important business drivers for E2.0 in the federal government. Projected government staffing numbers show that, during the next 10 years, more than 500,000 employees will need to be hired to replace retiring staff. This is crucial. Organizations aren’t ready to bring on new employees while losing legacy employees that have been with the organization for a long period of time. College students and current graduates are growing up and evolving with new technology, and expect these resources to be available to support them at work. It’s imperative for the federal government to accommodate these prospective future employees and adapt and grow with them to ensure their longevity in the federal workforce. Currently, email has been the main collaboration platform, which is ineffective as an enterprise collaboration tool.
If you are one of the many employees who have been with the federal government for a while (say, 20 years), then chances are that you really know how to get work done and you understand the ins and outs of how things work. But, what happens when you leave? Now that same job is a lot harder to get done by someone new. The federal government is losing career employees and replacing them with folks right out of college without those same embedded roots within the organization.
At the same time, these college grads are motivated and want to do well. So the federal government needs to make sure these employees get the right information at the right time and can connect with the right people for the right projects.
Speed and agility are also becoming critical factors as large organizations -- like the federal government -- are notorious for sluggish responsiveness and time-to-action. The speed of E2.0 solutions means you no longer need to wait six months to see the impact and potential. You can now see the impact and value right away. If you have a problem you are trying to address, you can do so quickly and efficiently.
The Rise of Transparency
We are also experiencing a rising shift and interest towards transparency, both from employees and partners within the federal government, and from constituents outside of the federal government. Recovery.org and Data.gov have been key initiatives that are seeing increased interest and demand around transparency from constituents. The federal government recognized the importance of this, which is why it was important to build a good interface that allows constituents to ask questions while allowing the government to share data in different ways.
It all comes down to smart people looking for smart solutions. Federal employees are clever and realize there are better ways to solve traditional and new problems then the current tried and tired ways of doing things. So what does any clever person with this realization do? Build better solutions -- and that’s exactly what we’re seeing.
We will cover other in-depth topics on the federal government's implementation of Enterprise 2.0 in future posts.