Government agency improves efficiency, productivity and allocation of funds for historic $8 billion oil spill restoration with a modern data estate

Snapshot

A government agency whose mission is to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems was tasked with restoring natural resources harmed by a disastrous oil spill. With an $8 billion budget and a wide scope of projects, they knew their outdated on-prem data system would not allow for the visibility, productivity and collaboration needed to get the job done. Blueprint migrated the customer’s SharePoint to the cloud and set up its new system with the architecture needed for efficient financial management tracking, clarity of workflow processes and standard operating procedures that allowed the organization to carry out the project successfully.

Our work

“Once we switched them over to this new fully-featured intranet system, individuals at the company realized how well this streamlined their day-to-day workload.”

The problem

After the funds were allocated, the agency team thought they would have time to build the necessary architecture, but trustees challenged the organization to accelerate the project kick off and start planning. The agency was up to the task, but this meant finding a quick and streamlined solution to modernize their data estate and get the proper processes and functions in place to manage such a large sum of money and wide scope of projects across multiple departments.

The team was having challenges extracting information from multiple systems and sources and had data stored on an outdated on-prem SharePoint system that was at its end-of-life stage. With no new services or updates available, the organization understood it was time for a change, but didn’t have the skillset needed to execute properly.

The agency reached out to Blueprint due to its data migration and solution architecture expertise as well as its track record of working with governmental agencies. Since there are a specific set of rules and guidelines that a government agency is governed by, it is beneficial to work with an organization that knows how to meet those unique needs and follow appropriate protocol.

The Blueprint Way

Increased productivity and improved workflow with a fully-featured modern intranet in SharePoint

The agency did not have an efficient system for workflow processes and standard operating procedures. There was minimal visibility into project ownership, task management or approval processes.

Blueprint increased the organization’s productivity and collaboration by documenting and organizing their shared information in a fully-featured intranet, with an orderly and systemic approach using all of the modern features that SharePoint has to offer. Before working with Blueprint, the agency was working with an outdated, on-premises version of SharePoint. Folders and documents employees and stakeholders needed were hidden beneath many layers of sites and folders, making it difficult to find. The agency was also using a system of over 200 individual sites, architected much like folder structures. This is an outdated method that causes sites to be buried underneath many other sites, making content virtually impossible to find.

The problem with that particular architecture is if anything changes for any of the subsites, it breaks a chain of inheritance with all the other sites connected to it. If your organization changes structure or a site isn’t used anymore, a hierarchical architecture will begin to have problems. It can be disastrous when modifying, moving, or deprecating sites with this outdated approach.

The Blueprint team introduced the company to new SharePoint Online Hub sites. Hub sites use a flat architecture that is much more flexible for the inevitable changes to most organizations. Now, if a site is changed or removed, it doesn’t affect the other sites around it. This allowed us to merge and consolidate their SharePoint environment into a size that is appropriate for the organization.

The Blueprint team also introduced the company to modern pages and news article pages that connected all of the organization’s SharePoint sites for each department and project into several role-based hubs. This gave every individual in the organization simplified access to important real-time content that allowed a clear view into the company’s critical stories. In addition, the Blueprint team presented new ways of storing and organizing content in SharePoint, including metadata and views embedded on pages instead of folders and endless digging for information.

“Most SharePoint users just think of [SharePoint] as document storage, but it’s so much more than that,” said the Blueprint Solution Architect. “Once we switched them over to this new fully-featured intranet system, individuals at the company realized how well this streamlined their day-to-day workload.”

A clear path forward with newfound visibility into finances with Power BI

Before working with Blueprint, this government agency was using a 30-year-old Excel-based “long-sheet” to track all transactions and balances. They had utilized Power BI before working with Blueprint but didn’t have the expertise in-house to use it effectively.

Blueprint deployed an in-house Power BI expert to teach the stakeholders best practices and streamline their processes.

The agency not only has clear visibility to real-time financial data and reporting, they also have an efficient system for allocating their extremely large budget and resources. Even more, they were equipped with training to use Power BI on their own moving forward.

Building trust with custom trackers and training (n + 1)

According to the Blueprint Solution Architect on the project, it’s important during any data migration that you have a contact management system to communicate with the client. Blueprint built custom trackers with easy-to-understand dashboards and visuals for the agency, catering to their unique needs as a government entity.

Migration Tracker – The Blueprint team created this tool to show stakeholders the progress for each SharePoint site migration, tracking all the sites being migrated, where they live and where Blueprint was recommending to place them. This gave Blueprint and the agency an efficient, clear system of communication for reporting on what decisions the client has made, what course of action to take next, and the current status for each site.

Time Tracker – Government entities track hours to the minute which is tied directly to deliverables. The Blueprint team created a custom time tracker in the contact management system to support the agency’s need for visibility. By breaking each hour of work down with real-time data and showing how many hours were attributed to each team member, the organization was able to effectively appoint new hours to available resources.

Lunch and Learns – Blueprint also offered “Lunch and Learns” for individuals across the agency to receive full training on all new technology that was incorporated into the project. This included training on Power BI and Power Automate, enabling the agency’s project team for long-term success.

Overall results

With a modernized data estate equipped with a fully-featured intranet on SharePoint and an updated financial reporting system using Power BI, this agency is now equipped to manage our country’s coastal ecosystems and oceans. They can now confidently allocate funds properly to protect and restore natural resources harmed by oil spills and releases of hazardous waste.

Impact

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