A large US federal government agency, operating around 300 field sites across the country, relies on large sets of complex production data in every facet of its daily operations and its overall mission. The volume of data being stored, processed, and analyzed within its IT infrastructure had been growing rapidly over a long period of time. The expanding scale of its data, alongside several other emerging challenges, influenced the executive leadership team to launch an enterprise wide data modernization initiative.
As an early step, the team created a new chief data officer (CDO) role, appointed to oversee all data requirements and ensure that data would be treated as a mission-critical corporate asset moving forward.
Ultimately, the CDO’s challenge was to enable everyone throughout the agency to collect, analyze, use, share, secure, and manage data in more efficient, strategic ways.
To address this challenge, the CDO began to devise a comprehensive data modernization strategy to guide the agency over four years. This strategy will help the agency make its data more comprehensive, reliable, and useful for making informed decisions at strategic and operational levels.
This new approach is intended to help agency employees across all departments and lines of business easily leverage data to make more intelligent, accurate decisions. The data strategy focuses on four goals with corresponding objectives:
As the strategy began to take shape, the CDO still needed support from a trusted partner to help develop and execute it. Guidehouse provided this support and used its experience to ensure that the data modernization strategy would meet expectations.
Guidehouse’s Services and Solutions, and Associated Impacts
Guidehouse worked with the CDO and the agency’s executive leadership team across several key areas to address challenges and help deliver the strategic vision.
Services and solutions: Guidehouse provided the CDO with a risk-averse, cost-effective approach to modernizing the agency’s IT infrastructure, improving its data management capabilities from the top down. Our data management approach encompassed several areas:
Guidehouse created new policies to guide the agency’s internal and external data sharing, collaborating with third-party stakeholders in the process. Leveraging innovative tools and industry-leading processes, the Guidehouse team also helped the CDO establish a new data-sharing hub for the agency.
Data governance and standards
The Guidehouse team developed a framework to modernize the agency’s approach to data governance, and to shift toward working with a single source of trusted data. Guidehouse also used its vendor-agnostic approach to select, procure, and implement the most suitable centralized data governing tool for the CDO.
Guidehouse monitored the agency’s single source of trusted data for data quality and worked with the CDO to expedite adoption of this new modernized approach to data management. The agency’s departments now have the means to identify, prioritize, and resolve data discrepancies, to ensure the highest levels of data quality and consistency moving forward.
Guidehouse also assisted with the implementation of the Collibra data management and governance tool, which allows the agency to manage data assets and related data policies and rules. The Collibra data governance center serves as an interactive repository for managing the agency’s data assets and associated terminologies, including capabilities for creating a data catalog and a business glossary, as well as for tracking data lineage.
The platform’s meta-data repository provides the ability to create, organize, and manage the agency’s data assets with more precision. This helps reduce errors and simplify remediation, and enables users to more easily search for and access data assets.
Impacts: The most recent, accurate data is now easily available to all employees. This has increased the overall speed, efficiency, and quality of the work done by the agency.
In turn, the agency has been able to drastically accelerate the closing of end-customer cases across various departments and lines of business. Since the CDO’s strategy was launched, the agency’s work through an enormous backlog has been expedited, with case adjudication processes running at least 40% faster than before. This accomplishment alone has substantially reduced a long-standing case backlog while producing significant improvements in public service.
Services and solutions: Drawing on extensive data analysis expertise, Guidehouse worked with the CDO to drastically simplify and minimize inefficient manual processes throughout the agency. Innovative dashboards and custom automation tools were also developed, enabling agency employees to improve their capabilities in data visualization, interpretation, analysis, and reporting.
Impacts: Guidehouse has given the agency new strategic best practices and bespoke tools, which will deliver vast improvements in how employees at all levels can use data.
New technological capabilities have allowed employees to analyze and interpret data more effectively, fulfilling the requirements to make more accurate, intelligent, data-driven decisions on a consistent basis.
Change Management and Data Literacy
Services and solutions: Guidehouse helped the CDO form internal partnerships to foster a more data-focused culture throughout the agency and improve employees’ data literacy. This was done using a range of data-focused training tools and educational initiatives, as well as through greater enterprisewide standardization of data for all end users.
Impacts: Guidehouse’s advisory services have helped create a more data-savvy culture, and improvements in data literacy have allowed the agency’s leadership team to gain confidence as a data-driven agency.
Services and solutions: To solve challenges with network analysis, Guidehouse worked with one department as a pilot project. This involved using data science techniques to build a bespoke framework, based on machine learning (ML) technology, to improve the department’s ability to handle and analyze specific sets of data.
The pilot project was successful, resulting in the delivery of a new front-end network analytics tool that has since been rolled out to all users within that department. Similar tools are now being implemented in other areas of the agency, gaining successful adoption in early deployments.
Impacts: Within the pilot project, the custom network analytics model created by Guidehouse has reduced time spent on research from weeks, or sometimes even months, to a matter of seconds.
Additionally, significant efficiencies were gained with the reduction of processing time from 10 hours to one hour, which also reduced computation costs. The agency will continue to see greater results over the coming months and years as these network analytics tools are deployed in other departments.
Services and solutions: Guidehouse addressed the agency’s need for timely and accurate processing of inbound public cases. This function had previously been hindered by significant variation in how complex and resource-intensive each case is to process. That unpredictability was holding back the agency from being able to accurately plan and resource the processing of cases.
To solve this problem, Guidehouse used ML to develop a case complexity model. This automated solution quickly analyzes large sets of data and classifies incoming cases based on their level of complexity.
Impacts: The agency’s lines of business can now use the strategic processes and solutions delivered by Guidehouse to gain rapid insights into all incoming cases and handle each one accordingly. This has helped significantly reduce the agency’s backlog.
The Guidehouse team will continue to iterate and develop its automated model to further innovate the capabilities of this data processing. Other research and development projects are ongoing to further optimize the agency’s data usage and analysis capabilities.
This will save valuable time for the agency’s employees, making them more efficient and effective, while also greatly improving public service.
With the support and expertise of Guidehouse, this successful data modernization strategy has enabled the agency to become exponentially more capable and efficient with its vast, complex data operations.
Having invested significant resources into the strategy, the agency is well-positioned as a leader and a model among other federal agencies in any administrative and functional area related to data.
The agency, and all of its users, is now well-equipped to leverage data in more intelligent ways, which will improve productivity throughout the enterprise.
IT Strategy & Transformation