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Start modernization projects with unified communications

The Office of Management and Budget released the President’s Management Agenda last year with IT modernization as one of its foundational goals. It calls on federal agencies to work on breaking the stranglehold of legacy systems.

However, as former Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires has written, not all agencies have a mature enough environment to take on a large modernization project.

“Having the right skills and also individuals in leadership levels with the right experience in transformation initiatives is imperative,” Spires said. “If agencies are not ready, then start small while seeking guidance and support and help from other agencies.”

For many agencies, modernizing communications systems can serve as a strong jumping off point. Every department relies on communications systems of some kind and modernizing these systems, specifically with a unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platform, can not only provide immediate value, but serve as a gateway for future modernization projects.

The modernization benefits of unified communications

Unified communications platforms have become a must for any modern office. As of 2017, millennials made up one-third of the workforce, surpassing Gen-X as the largest generation currently working. While the federal workforce may skew slightly older, agencies will still want all employees to have modern tools to empower them to communicate and collaborate to improve efficiency.

Workers require a consistent experience across devices and applications. From a UCaaS perspective, that means that voice, message, presence, audio/video/web conferencing and mobile devices work together, furthering the objective of more efficient communications.

By investing in UCaaS, agencies can leverage the most up-to-date technology with no commitment to a single system or infrastructure. They can get the best-of-breed and most modern capabilities without a significant up-front investment. Agencies can take advantage of standards-based capabilities that meet the requirements of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program and that are more secure and easier to use than current legacy infrastructure.

There is also added simplicity. With UCaaS, agencies no longer must manage multiple systems -- their communications and collaboration environment is centrally managed. UCaaS  helps address the legacy issue, while saving money, increasing security and offering additional functionality.

And then there is the people factor. Communications and collaboration environments are used by virtually every employee in some capacity to remain connected on important projects, collaborate on challenges and improve the overall workflow. Unified communications helps employees do their jobs more efficiently, making them an integral part of any office environment. This is especially true in large, disparate federal agencies where employees are spread across the country or across the world. Any capability that can help connect employees has tremendous benefit.

The value in getting started

Modernizing unified communications with a FedRAMP-approved UCaaS system can also serve as a starting point for agencies on their modernization journey. Transitioning to UCaaS is not a difficult process -- it's one already made by countless private- and public-sector organizations, such as the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and Customs and Border Protection.

By picking UCaaS as the starting point for modernization, agencies can get the most out of the funds allotted to them and improve overall security and the delivery of citizen services.

The overreliance on legacy systems has made federal technology systems both overcomplicated and difficult to secure. The modernization effort aims to speed up the process of bringing new technologies into agencies, and UCaaS serves as a tremendous foundation. By moving toward a cloud-based unified communications system, federal technology leaders can make an instant impact that will provide immediate results and serve as a springboard for larger modernization efforts.

About the Author

Steve Boberski is vice president, business development, with Collab9.

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