The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing found success by putting its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in the cloud. Now it’s moving mission critical applications to this flexible, cost efficient infrastructure.
Harry Singh, BEP’s deputy associate director and deputy chief information officer, said his office recently deployed a human resources application on a cloud platform hosted by Salesforce.
“Internally, we have our telework program and time-to-hire initiative in HR and that’s all time really internal communication, collaboration and workflow approvals,” he said. “Salesforce does very well workflow and the visual dashboard capabilities. We made a decision to pursue those in the initial go-around with four or five apps and then assess user acceptance on the software-as-a-service platform.”
Singh said BEP traditionally kept these types of apps in its own data center. He said the cloud helps the agency meet several of his goals, including mission innovation, cybersecurity and improved service delivery.
“As with any change, you run into some challenges. The platform is new. The technology is new and users aren’t really used to it,” he said on Ask the CIO. “We have been working closely with the users to transition them to Salesforce. This is the reason we focused on applications that had a limited set of users and we were able to deploy it successfully. As part of deployment, there were some issues that we encountered, but overall it was a very successful implementation and now we take a step forward in that direction.”
Singh said BEP also will take advantage of the cloud to share data with external customers in the manufacturing sector as well as developing a secure email and collaboration platform.
“Internally, we have our SharePoint, which is a platform that we can give secure access to external vendor, but you run into issues with their security policies and setting up agreements so the approach we are taking is to see if there is a FedRAMP approved cloud that uses a subscription based model that we can use to share data among our customers and collaborate better,” he said. “We looked into a secure virtual private network with our SharePoint platform, but as we looked into the FedRAMP service, cyber is very important as are somethings that came from the Cyber Sprint like multi-factor authentication. Cyber will be the critical piece as we share data and deliver the service.”
BEP still is developing its acquisition strategy to implement this data sharing in the cloud service. Singh said the plan is to have this cloud platform ready in 2017.
The bureau isn’t new to using the cloud. BEP is one of the few agencies that successfully launched an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in 2011 and put it in the cloud.
Singh said the ERP has improved the agency’s workflow and engagement with its manufacturing unit, financial offices and other parts of the agency.
He said the bureau plans major upgrades to the Oracle business suite of products in 2017 and into 2018.
“The ERP is our largest cloud implementation at this time,” Singh said. “Currently, we are assessing software-as-a-service platform, and over the next 12-to-18 months we will reassess. We will continue to work in a hybrid cloud fashion where certain apps will be deployed internally within the BEP infrastructure, but we definitely see a movement toward a cloud platform.”
BEP also is in the initial discussion phase of moving its email into the cloud, and plans to pilot that cloud effort in 2017 and beyond.
Another high priority for the bureau is the use of data analytics. The ERP platform has given BEP employees access to more and better data, and Singh said there is more that they can do with the information.
“We continuously work with the manufacturing workforce to look at the data we collect for new relationships and patterns, internal supporting performance and quality metrics and overall looking for opportunities to improve process and quality, “ he said. “We recently awarded an enterprise data management and enterprise performance management contract that is focused on data governance and the performance matrix, the key performance indicators, to implement them enterprisewide. We looked at the data analytics tools, currently we are looking at Tableau, SAS, Oracle and Linux. We haven’t made a decision on the tools, but that effort is in process.”
Singh said the new contract is focused on establishing a data management model across the BEP so it can tie mission areas together and visualize the information to make better decisions.
He said BEP also has set up a data governance council, and does plan to hire a chief data officer, but hasn’t decided to begin the hiring process. BEP also is hiring a full-time CIO, putting out a job announcement in August.