INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) SYSTEMS
SULINGITUK GOVERNMENT: The importance of conducting community planning before modifying your IT system
Fictional Case Study
Sulingituk Government has started a community well-being planning process, and the citizens are saying that knowledge of traditional culture and skills is a very important part of well-being. This includes knowing how to skin and clean animals/fish/birds properly, how to navigate on the land, how to find and use traditional medicines, and how to make shelters.
This section does not supply a list of IT system vendors and systems for several reasons:
- IT systems are constantly evolving and undergoing updates – system names change, companies merge, and new software packages are developed. We do not want this Toolkit to endorse (or be seen as endorsing) any commercial products.
- Each SGIG should evaluate potential IT systems based on their own unique context and criteria.
IT systems are the assembly of hardware and software tools, processes, and workflows to solve the needs of your government.
This page discusses types of software that may be applied to each component of the data lifecycle, and considerations for IT procurement.
When it comes to data management, it’s a good idea to automate your processes as much as possible, to reduce workload and limit human error.
Types of Software Needed for Data Management
In the downloadable resource document called “Types of software needed for data management,” we provide a review of different types of software that may be applied to each component of the data lifecycle (apart from storage and deletion/destruction, which are covered in Data Storage, Backup, and Preservation). Types of software discussed include:
- Database systems: the systems where your data is entered, where it is stored, and from where it is extracted.
- Data collection tools: a simple frontend system to enter collected data into your database.
- Software to use and analyze your data: For simple analyses, like examining the ages of people enrolled in a health program, you may only require a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. SGIGs will also want to do more complex analysis as part of efforts to address social well-being gaps, for example, tracking changes in health outcomes for a range of age groups and genders. For this kind of analysis, you will require specialized statistical software or an analytics program to analyze and help visualize your data.
- Data transfer tools: When you share data outside of your government or need to store or transmit data over the internet, tools should be used to control access and mitigate risks related to data security.
IT procurement should involve a thorough assessment of your needs, the full costs involved, and good communications with your vendors and contractors. This section, and the downloadable resources provided, walks you through the IT procurement process. The same approach can apply whether you are dealing with the specific needs of one department, or a government-wide IT process.
Identifying IT System Requirements
This downloadable resource discusses workflow analysis and Agile management approaches. Use these tools to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of existing IT systems, or to identify the needs and requirements for new IT systems.
Fictional Case Study
When Sulingituk Government’s Health and Social Services department decides to implement a new case management system (CMS), they learn that insufficient workflow analysis prior to implementation can be the downfall of a new system.
Tools to Help Select an IT System
This downloadable resource discusses how to evaluate different potential solutions using a decision matrix. We also provide you with key questions to ask a prospective IT system supplier.
Total Cost of Ownership
A detailed assessment and toolkit for determining the TCO for open source solutions has been produced for the UK Cabinet Office by the Department of Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The assessment and toolkit can help an organization to estimate TCOs for solutions under consideration.
This downloadable resource discusses how to evaluate the costs of new IT systems compared to the potential benefits using the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) approach. The TCO approach considers not only maintenance and service costs, but also insurance, infrastructure-related expenses, cost of downtime, and licensing. The document discusses how to assess these costs for both hardware and software.
Making a Business Case
If your government needs a new IT system, you should start by preparing a strong business case that justifies the need for it. The time spent on developing your case will increase your chance of approval. A typical government business case uses cost-benefit analysis. A decision is reached after assessing the costs to the organization compared to the expected benefits, e.g., the investment in new software versus the improved availability of data for decision making.
Even if you don’t draft a full business case, going through the exercise of thinking through a business case will be helpful to building the proposal you make to decision makers.
Here are a couple of examples of government business case templates and guides:
- Business Case Template and Business Case Guide (Treasury Board of Canada): Guidance on how to build a comprehensive business case for a large, complex project.
- Preparing an Effective Business Case – A Guide to Planning and Funding Municipal and Community Projects (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): A simplified guide to building a business case.
Request for Proposals
Once your government has decided upon a potential IT solution, a Request for Proposals (RFP) will need to be prepared. The RFP should include a description of what the goals and requirements are for the project, and information regarding budget, timelines, and vendor expectations.
This article from the Project Management Institute provides a guide to developing and managing the RFP process, including the creation of evaluation tools.
Template and online resources are available for use when developing an RFP: