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Last Tuesday, Michael Miller, Asst. Information Systems Director at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) took the stage at the Gartner Portal, Content, and Collaboration Summit in San Diego. Attendees packed the large conference hall to hear Miller describe MoDOT’s five-year journey to adapt and thrive in these tough economic times, using SharePoint. This journey was not an easy one, considering that Missouri is the 7th largest highway system in the nation, and that MoDOT is responsible for over 33,000 miles of highway, as well as the state’s bridges and railways. 

Last Tuesday, Michael Miller, Asst. Information Systems Director at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) took the stage at the Gartner Portal, Content, and Collaboration Summit in San Diego. Attendees packed the large conference hall to hear Miller describe MoDOT’s five-year journey to adapt and thrive in these tough economic times, using SharePoint. This journey was not an easy one, considering that Missouri is the 7th largest highway system in the nation, and that MoDOT is responsible for over 33,000 miles of highway, as well as the state’s bridges and railways. 

Wind the clock back to 2008.  MoDOT had an internal workforce of 6,300 workers, 5000 of them information workers who were responsible for planning and designing the state’s highways in bridges. To support these efforts, MoDOT provided an IT infrastructure that consisted of shared drives, email, instant messaging, phone, and address book/contact applications.  Things were moving along smoothly….and then the economic crisis hit.  The state responded with a mandate to save $512M over five years. The number of MoDOT regional offices was reduced from 10 to 7 and staff was cut back, including 50% of the IT Dept.  But despite these cuts, MoDOT was expected to continue to provide the same level of service to its citizens…But how could they do it? 

The riveted audience heard Miller describe how MoDOT embarked on an aggressive program to support a new work model, one predicated on leveraging outsourced resources to augment the reduced staff. For example, instead of doing construction project design internally, this task would be bid out to external contractors.  IT had to support this new work model, so fundamental infrastructure changes were made, including selecting SharePoint as the new corporate ‘environment.’  With SharePoint, MoDOT would boost collaboration among internal team members as well as for district-division-organization (DDO) collaboration, minimize the number of documents emailed between employees, gain control over processes and workflow, and unify search in the organization.  
harmon.ie was selected by MoDOT as a critical part of the SharePoint deployment, to make document sharing transparent to end users by enabling it within email (then Lotus Notes, now Microsoft Outlook).  With harmon.ie, MoDOT was able to realize the business goals of the SharePoint implementation – namely, to increase and streamline collaboration in order to complete projects on time and under budget, thereby serving the citizens of Missouri.

Miller described how MoDOT met and overcame challenges to building this new infrastructure,  including dealing with a host of the usual people and organizational issues. This was done through education, publicizing success, and making it easy for people to adopt the new tools without having to change the way they work, specifically by using harmon.ie. In fact, Miller described harmon.ie as “one of the linchpins of SharePoint adoption at MoDOT,” and he emphasized the anxiety expressed by employees who (incorrectly) thought they would lose access to harmon.ie when MoDOT migrated from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook.

Providing a peek at future plans, Miller described how MoDOT plans to introduce a new mobile partner SharePoint extranet (with harmon.ie) that will allow contractors and suppliers to collaborate on construction projects in real-time using tablets and smartphones. 

Wrapping up, Miller detailed how the MoDOT SharePoint project contributed to the $512 million saved by the State of Missouri over the past 5 years.

Miller concluded his talk with some advice for the attendees, including being careful not to overly-govern a SharePoint initiative, leveraging ‘those outside IT’ to spread the message, educating people at all levels of the organization, publicizing small wins, and of course, to “use harmon.ie."