Four lessons learned

During the development of their data-sharing system, Commerce Department officials learned the value of:

Upfront planning. Each of Commerce's 11 bureaus in the integration project participated in a yearlong effort to write a description of the integration project's functional requirements. After they went through the document, officials at each bureau signed off on the details.

Iterative rollouts. Rather than connecting the bureaus to the integrated financial and procurement systems in one massive project, Commerce is bringing bureaus online one at a time. This helps the information technology staff focus their resources and ensures success at one location before moving on to the next.

Business process re-engineering. Officials will commit time and resources during the implementation phase to address how the added functions of new enterprisewide applications can improve on decades-old ways of doing business.

Ongoing communication. As the integration project progresses, Commerce officials will reduce surprises by keeping bureau chief financial officers and chief executive officers briefed on its status and any changes in the technology architecture or how business processes will run.

About the Author

Alan Joch is a freelance writer based in New Hampshire.

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