4 lessons for upgraders

Experts offer these lessons for smoothing human services modernization projects:


  • Use modernization as an opportunity to streamline processes but don’t overestimate the appetite for change. “Implementing a major technological change at the same time that you’re implementing major policy and program change is asking a whole lot of your employees,” said David McCurley, a managing director at Accenture.



  • Give case workers flexibility. Texas’ troubled new system was built on the assumption that every case worker would follow a rigidly defined interview process. Determining a case’s eligibility for benefits required clicking through screen after predetermined screen – potentially more than 250 — state auditors reported in late 2007.



  • Involve case workers from the start. By the time user interfaces enter the usability testing phase, it’s often too late to make real changes, so gather users’ input from the start and keep doing it periodically. Also, know that not every county implements systems the same way. What’s optimal in a small county isn’t the same in a large county, said Rhonda Paxson, Colorado Benefits Management System applications director.



  • Don’t hard code eligibility requirements. Elected representatives will inevitably change social services rules in the future. Don’t be stuck with the difficult task of programming changes every time the legislature passes a new law.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.