Ohio state house OBM

Ohio's budget office opens up with cloud-based BPM tool

Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management develops, coordinates and monitors the individual budgets of all state agencies. OBM also reviews all financial transactions made with public funds, and ensures the proper and responsible use of state resources.

6 steps for improving processes

Ohio’s Office of Budget and Management needed a more automated approach to improve business processes across teams, departments and systems. Officials implemented several steps to reach that goal:

1. Established business process improvement management as organizational goal

2. Focus on business user involvement for process changes.

3. Turn IT’s focus toward application development.

4. Capture business knowledge in process diagrams and procedures.

5. Identify solutions for process improvement.

6. Empower users to make it easier for them to get what they need.

Source: Ohio Office of Budget and Management

An agency with that degree of responsibility can’t afford to be hampered by manually-driven, opaque processes. To streamline operations and provide personnel better visibility into business workflows and processes, OBM officials realized they needed a strategy and tools to improve and automate its processes.

As a result, OBM established business process management as an organizational goal, with the aim of identifying tools that would help the agency focus on process improvement and, at the same time, set up business users so they would not have to turn to the IT department every time they needed more information about a particular process or subject area, according to Raj Subramanian, CIO of Ohio OBM.

By deploying Appian’s cloud-based BPM suite, which includes a social collaboration component called worksocial, OBM was able to improve the coordination of work across teams, departments and systems.

The stage was set for the OBM development team to design and deploy four automated, process applications with integrated mobile and social access in less than nine months. The four Appian applications, deployed last year, cover management of OBM’s service desk, agency project governance, business continuity planning and support, and inventory management, Subramanian said May 1 during a presentation at Appian World 2013 in Washington, D.C. The processes for the most part were manually-intensive. For instance, service requests were called in over the phone or relayed in person while information about inventory assets was compiled across disparate databases and spreadsheets.

The OBM development team created an online service catalog that lets OBM employees request services from a wide range of sources including communications, human resources, finance, legal, IT and training. Meanwhile, the new inventory management application lets OBM employees request new inventory, return or transfer items, report stolen items, perform inventory history audits and more from a single system. All of these services can be accessed and tracked on desktops or mobile devices.

The Business Continuity application makes all procedures, information and needed documents clear and available for OBM employees in the event of disasters or power outages. Project governance automates the project management approval process.

From the onset, Subramanian knew he wanted a tool that could perform tasks such as documentation, orchestration and monitoring all in the cloud. Having worked with on-premise BPM tools for many years, he was all too familiar with some of the pitfalls. “I spent a whole lot of time working on technical issues, which distracted me from working on the processes.”

Ohio OBM is not the only agency revamping IT and business processes. Decades of decentralized IT management and spending have created imbalanced IT assets and service offerings in the state. Moreover, state agencies have been heavily invested in maintaining and supporting their own agency infrastructures. And annual IT-related spending continues to increase, with total IT related spending for fiscal 2012 exceeding $830 million.

As a result, Ohio is modernizing the State of Ohio Computing Center (SOCC) through the development of a private cloud computing infrastructure and the use of IBM hardware, software and services. The private cloud will serve as the foundation of Ohio’s IT Optimization effort, a four-part IT strategy to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve agency business processes by consolidating all of the state’s IT assets into a primary data center.

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