That’s what the U.S. state of Wisconsin concluded
after its first attempt to overhaul the government’s
antiquated and fractured IT system failed. With
costs rising and financial benefits fading, the state
had pulled the plug three years into the initial project in 2008.
But the need for a modern, centralized IT system remained. The state had few programmers
who knew how to maintain platforms built in the
1960s and 1970s—ancient history in the IT world.
Plus, the archaic systems couldn’t perform even
basic analytics. They struggled to track how much
the state spent on basic goods, such as pens and
toilet paper. And there was limited data to help
the government make spending decisions, such as
whether it should buy state vehicles or reimburse
state employees for using their own cars.
So in 2014, Wisconsin came back with a better
plan—and a new project team. The US$138.7 million State Transforming Agency Resources (STAR)
project would consolidate roughly 140 IT systems
used by 58 agencies across the state into a single
enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
“We had a need for greater transparency of data
and better access to data for improved decision
making,” says Dawn McCauley, project director and
executive director, STAR program office, department of administration, State of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Once implemented, the ERP would save state
taxpayers US$100 million over the next decade.
But the new project team faced skeptical stakeholders at all levels from the start. “In the beginning, we were often asked, ‘The state tried this
before, so how do you know it will work this
time?’” Ms. McCauley says.
By studying lessons learned from the failed project and fostering a stronger culture of collaboration
and engagement, the team transformed a pariah
needed a reboot.
“Early on, we
on our IT
‘We’re going to
do this as one
—John Hogan, State of
PHOTO ALL CANADA / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO