A Team of Teams...On Teams

Matt Singleton, CISO, State of Oklahoma
Matt Singleton, CISO, State of Oklahoma

Matt Singleton, CISO, State of Oklahoma

In 2012, the State of Oklahoma embarked on a monumental task – the unification of all IT functions in the executive branch. This mandate passed with no funding and an aggressive deadline. The first three years of the initiative were tumultuous as IT staff and systems from 77 mandated and 33 voluntary agencies from across the state tried to combine into a single, new organization within the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES). Much of the technology was outdated; security practices were unpredictable; and technical knowledge was inconsistent. Of course, day-to-day operations had to continue, and new work came in as well. This created an incredibly complex and dynamic environment.

In 2015, OMES came across the Team of Teams methodology (ToTs) as described in General Stanley McChrystal’s bestselling book: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. At a high level, this methodology creates networked connections layered upon a traditional hierarchical organization with the purpose of removing gaps between silos and allowing teams to quickly adapt to changes in complex environments. Details of the model and how to implement, as well as a case study on Oklahoma, are included in the follow-upbook, One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams by Chris Fussell.

 ​ Oklahoma’s partnership with Microsoft allowed the pairing of team-oriented, solutions-driven professionals with tech solutions that fit the present and future needs of the State of Oklahoma 

By adopting this methodology, OMES completed110 IT unifications within 60months – roughly one agency every other week. During the same period, OMES also completed 1,923 system enhancements and 1,298 agency-specific and statewide IT projects. That’s a major deliverable every 13 calendar hours.

How was this possible?

OMES quickly embraced a key component of ToTs–the Operations and Intelligence brief (O&I).This video teleconference is conducted quickly each day. It allows OMES to rapidly shift resources to the most pressing needs of the state. OMES used the O&I to unify leadership’s narrative, adapt to changes in the environment and empower staff to make appropriate decisions fast. OMES turned to Microsoft as a strategic partner to address the technology needs for this model and leveraged investments in Azure and Office365 to make the O&I a quality production that is well attended, reliable, efficient and effective.

The OMES O&I employs all functionality available with Teams and Office365. These platforms provide video feeds, chat bars for solving problems in realtime, coordination of itineraries and action items and archives for staff unable to attend. Oklahoma’s partnership with Microsoft allowed the pairing of team-oriented, solutions-driven professionals with tech solutions that fit the present and future needs of the State of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma realized tremendous value from the O&I on Microsoft Teams. In addition to IT cost-savings/avoidance in excess of $875 million, Oklahoma brought new services to residents and improved services to agencies. Despite a 52% increase in workload and a 64% reduction in headcount, OMES saw a 33% improvement in IT projects completed within budget, a decrease in priority one incidents from 17% to 8% of all cases, and a customer satisfaction level above 92%.

Moving faster, increasing effectiveness, and improving performance does not happen by chance in today’s world. It requires a deliberate focus on adapting to the dynamics of complex environments, leaders who are willing to embrace innovative models, and a technology solution that can keep pace with high-performance teams. Team of Teams on Microsoft Teams helped make it happen in Oklahoma.

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