A team approach and thorough implementation plan for the citywide replacement of desktop computers paid off in immediate dollar savings, more efficient staffing patterns, and computers configured toward the future.
In 1995, trying to utilize the latest computer software package was an uphill battle for many in Saint Paul city government. Chances were that the personal computer (PC) on one's desk was at least five years old and lacked the capacity to run the new program. Even most of the newer and upgraded machines still did not have the right "horsepower." If it was late in the year and the department had not yet ex-hausted its budget, it might have been possible to squeeze a new machine out of the remaining funds; however, there was no guarantee that technical staff would be able to install it within a reasonable amount of time. They were just too busy maintaining old equipment or trying to get the city's 29 microcomputer networks to function effectively with all of the various platforms in place.
Barely two years later, things look very different. Today there are more than 400 new microcomputers, geared toward the future and not dependent on "leftover" dollars. Nearly all were installed during the last quarter of 1996 with minimal disruption to normal activity. As a result, both software and hardware are standardized throughout the city for the first time ever. These changes have taken place without massive infusions of new money or sacrificing other projects, and savings already are beginning to emerge. This turnaround resulted from strategically thinking and planning for information systems.
A New Game Plan
Like many other public- and private-sector organizations, Saint Paul, Minnesota, has grown increasingly dependent upon information technology to accomplish its business. Technology now permeates every facet of daily operations, from the local police office to paying for office supplies. The city has struggled to keep pace with developments in the marketplace with the budget constantly under siege; two years ago, these frustrations led the city to stop and consider a new approach. What emerged was a formal plan for replacing desktop equipment. The …