Integrating Case Management & Labor Exchanges
Across the country, agencies tasked with delivering services pertaining to unemployment insurance, such as Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD), rely on large, outdated legacy mainframe systems. The antiquated systems are hard to maintain and require significant investments of time and resources from technology staff.
In a world that requires on-demand information, the systems showed their age as their ability to serve citizens and employers began to wane. Indiana wanted to lead other states by modernizing one of its core applications as a first step to ensuring its citizens and employers were receiving the resources they needed quickly and efficiently.
About Indiana Department of Workforce Development
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development is charged with delivering services to citizens and employers alike, including unemployment benefits for job seekers; tax collection, and maintenance for Indiana employers and an appeals process that provides recourse for both parties.
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With clear priorities established, DWD engaged a vendor to begin the UIM project in 2003. Shortly thereafter, complications arose that led to contract termination. After a three-year delay in the UIM project, DWD engaged a second vendor in 2006. The project was initially off to a good start with some “quick win” release deployments, but five years passed, and DWD had yet to transition off the mainframe legacy system in 2011. Struggling with transparency into project status and trajectory, DWD hired Resultant to perform Independent Verification and Validation (IV & V) services over the development.
Facing major gaps in transparency of the current status of the project, DWD executives sought to understand where the project stood, where it was going, and when they would bring the project to successful completion.
In order to ensure success, the Resultant team developed dashboards and established metrics that showed the status of project efforts and provided insight into the effort left to cross the finish line. Even after we provided transparency to the project team and recommendations to the contractor project resources, the state-contractor relationship continued to deteriorate. As the pace of the project continued to flag, DWD decided it was once again time to end things with its current contractor team. In late 2012, DWD asked Resultant to take over management of the project and be accountable for its successful delivery.
The Resultant team began interviewing DWD resources to analyze project team members’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. The team was reorganized, and the project shifted gears to refine the processes needed to successfully support a team of this size. Processes touching the entire software development life cycle were updated to ensure efficient and accurate quality of work. In addition, a detailed communication plan was developed for continued alignment among key stakeholder groups.
At a time when tolerance for failure was low, a concise project plan with clearly defined benchmarks was put into place, including 30-day milestones to track progress. By establishing and meeting the milestones, the team began walking the long road to rebuilding the executive leadership’s confidence in project success. Later, this became vital in making the decision to take the system live.
The team maintained a steady track record of success in completing milestones for the next several months. Nearly ten years from the project’s original initiation, and only one year after Resultant took ownership of the project team, the agency’s modernized Unemployment Insurance System, UpLink, was successfully launched on January 19th, 2014.
Over the past several years, many states and state consortiums have attempted to modernize their unemployment insurance systems to integrate tax, benefits, and appeals into a single cohesive system. Indiana’s experience proved the complexity involved. Even with millions of dollars invested to launch the integrated systems, to date, success nationwide has been limited at best.
Working with Resultant, the State of Indiana was the first state to successfully modernize a system that integrated Tax, Benefits, and Appeals at launch. With the launch of UpLink, the unsupported technology that had presented significant risk to the agency was eliminated. The new system was developed to meet the current and future business needs of DWD. UpLink was designed to be modified in response to changes in agency UI policy as well as federal and state laws to support the system into the foreseeable future.
“We’re not going to have to wait on data. We’re not going to have to make decisions based on stale or old information. We’ve now been able to make decisions in real-time.”
“Leveraging data from across the State, data was transformed into information, which, in turn, became the knowledge needed to support the important decisions of tomorrow.”
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