Undertaking a Major System Upgrade


The state DOT is faced with an impending overhaul of its primary computer systems. There are several critical reasons for this change, including: requirements from customers for better security and improved customer service; the need to retire legacy systems that are an increasing level of risk to the state DOT every year; and the need for an integrated system for reporting, planning and programming.

Change Forces

Technology Advancement. new systems are available that provide desired functionality; older technology may no longer be supported
Legislation, Regulation, and Funding. new legislation may major modifications to information systems to support analysis and reporting
Workforce Evolution. skills to maintain older mainframe systems are in increasingly short supply; it is difficult to recruit a new generation of employees to work with outdated technology
Shift in Role and Focus. new technology is required for managing system operations
Public Expectations. it is time consuming to meet evolving public expectations for transparency using older systems with inflexible reporting capabilities.

What Capabilities Are Needed?

Aligning Skills to Needs. agencies expecting to undertake a series of major system upgrades will need to build a core group of technology project managers, business analysts, technical architects, database administrators and security specialists. Some agencies may choose to build software development teams in-house; others may choose to outsource all or most of this function.
Attracting and Retaining. agencies must be able to attract and retain employees with the management and technical skills needed to upgrade or replace major systems. While DOTs may not be able to offer a competitive compensation package relative to the private sector, they can emphasize work-life balance, opportunities for advancement and skill building, and satisfaction associated with improving transportation for the public. DOTs can implement practices such as agile development and pair programming that foster collaboration and frequent constructive feedback.
Agility and Resilience. implementing new systems often requires changes to existing business processes, particularly when an old, custom-built application is being replaced by a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product. An organizational capability for agility is needed to enable employees to shift to new processes and workflows using the new system.
Technology Adoption. agencies need the ability to implement new technology solutions so that they provide anticipated functionality and benefits, meet agency security needs, and fit with existing solutions. This a capability requires adopting and supporting a technology acquisition process with well-defined steps, roles and responsibilities. This process needs to balance predictability and discipline against cost and adaptability to emergent business needs.

What can you do about it?

Organizational Management
  • Change Management – to ensure that new systems are successfully integrated within agency business processes and deliver anticipated benefits.
  • Process Improvements – to ensure that business processes are optimized prior to automation.
Workforce Management
  • Recruitment and Retention – to ensure that the agency has the right mix of skills and experience to successfully implement new information systems.
  • Professional Development – to strengthen skills needed for information system development or acquisition, and support career advancement for employees.
Knowledge Management
  • Knowledge Audits – to assess current strengths and weaknesses for critical areas of knowledge.
  • Social and Learning Communities – to provide opportunities for employees to share lessons learned from working on diverse projects, and collaborate on strategies for improvement.
Information and Data Management
  • IT Strategic Planning – to ensure that IT investments are aligned with changing agency priorities.
  • IT and Data Governance – to establish clear roles, responsibilities, standards and processes for new system development.
  • Agile Development – to increase delivery timeframes, engage end-users, and reduce risks associated with large software project development.
  • Innovative Contracting Methods – to provide flexibility in use of contractors for development, integration, operation and support of new systems.

What resources will help?