Portal Architecture for One of the DoD Federal Agencies
Challenge The Office of the DoD creates and manages all policy and governance of DoD Information Technology (IT). The DoD Agency has a staff of several hundred personnel nested within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) where the DoD Agency is a direct report to the Secretary of Defense. Creating and managing IT policy and governance has become more complex that ever requiring greater coordination and transparency. No where is the job of an Agency more daunting than in the Department of Defense, which represents the 6th largest economy in the world. All of this is on top of the work required to administratively manage the organization with a combination of military, civilian and contracted workers. Continued manpower reductions in the Office of the DoD required an innovative approach to organize, track and manage work related to IT policies, audits, cybersecurity, governance, congressional inquiries, software, computers, networks, IT budgets and systems for the entire DoD. Although the DoD Agency hosts a variety of skilled and experienced senior staff members, action officers, analysts and engineers, the technical content management knowledge base was not strong enough to naturally drive best practices in the areas of information, content and ultimately knowledge management. In August of 2012, cuts in funding with looming threats of sequestration drove Agency leadership to focus on transforming the way information and business processes were being handled within the organization. At the time there was no organized, central repository for content with business rules to guide users on how to use it. The organization was not in compliance with many of its own IT policies. Solution ACES Group implemented a 3-portal structure to serve the three major audiences the DoD Agency needed to support: 1) Internal Agency members, 2) Broader DoD and Whole of Government audience and 3) The public at large. Each had fully tested PKI authentication (where required), active backups and a disaster recovery capability. All solutions used in place enterprise services being provided to everyone in DoD. The Portals were architected to make all content and processes discoverable within a few clicks. Most content and process were hosted on the Internal Portal. As content was brought into the environment, how it was created and the processes that were involved in managing it were governed through automation. For example, if a process required approval from a new person, ACES would add the new person to the SharePoint approval workflow and it was transparent to anyone the process had changed. No one needed to be trained on the new process. Each process was defined using a Wiki page on the portal. This provided continuity as responsibilities shifted. The process page was updated whenever changes were made. This ensured non-technical business managers always had clear insight into the mechanics of their processes. Other key features of the ACES solution Intuitive navigation removed road blocks to finding and collaborating on content New site architecture simplified content and permissions management Innovative content structures enabled content and process automation Portal framework provided foundation for integration of organizational processes Transparency into Security groups ensured security of sensitive content Easy, enjoyable, engaging user experience enhanced user adoption Reduction in number of sites reduced overall management burden Results A new DoD Agency transitioned in from being the Agency for the Navy and reviewed the ACES Portal. They stated in a large meeting the DoD Agency Portal created by the ACES team was the best portal he had ever seen in DoD. Under the ACES team, the portal provided the DoD Agency with what we call Virtual Manpower. With each and every process that was streamlined, integrated and automated, the organization had countless hours returned to its workforce to re-appropriate. As we worked with process owners, one of the most common statements we heard from Agency personnel was how much more they enjoyed coming to work because of the improvements and innovations we made to the processes they either managed or interacted with, which is often hard to put a value on.