Advice from the trenches
As states begin building their own dynamic portals, officials riding the
front wave of the trend have plenty of advice. The toughest challenge: cultural
issues. Some tips include:
* Bring in the private sector early and discuss ideas on approaching infrastructure
development, not products.
* Learn how to develop portal applications internally. Although you'll
need plenty of advice and functional help from the private sector, do not
turn over exclusive ownership to a third party.
* Strike a balance between the enterprise and the agency but develop
applications that involve related processes with all the agencies involved.
Otherwise, all you're doing is perpetuating the stovepipe environment with
a different technology.
* Prepare yourself for potential cultural fallout by engaging agency
personnel early on and letting them maintain a sense of ownership — or at
least a strong say — in how their services and processes will work in an
* Start small, with incremental projects and realistic goals. The five-year,
$100 million, "this will fix everything" mentality won't work. Small successes
with momentum will keep customers and agency personnel engaged.
* Use focus groups and a built-in Web-based mechanism to collect customer
feedback. To remain valuable to end users, states need to continually enhance
a site and seek out ways to make it more intuitive and more accessible.