Four Keys to Successful O&M for a Growing Shared Service

Illustration of individuals working connecting through different technologies.As shared services grow and increase their customer base, the complexity of operations and maintenance (O&M) grows with it. A larger and more diverse user base comes with higher expectations and the likely need for 24/7/365 availability. Minor changes can have vast ripple effects across agency components. Effectively scaling up means reducing and managing the complexity of a broad customer base and round the clock availability.  

TCG’s approach to consolidating and delivering cross-functional and cross-organizational O&M is based on our Shared Services Management Model (SSMM), which emphasizes service availability through resource management, communications, quality assurance, and ticket triaging. 

Resource Management: Ensuring availability starts with managing resources. We recommend a robust staff makeup of cross-trained, flexible professionals. This ensures reliable coverage for any urgent needs that arise and reduces the risk of disrupted services due to turnover. Dedicated teams should be assigned and managed to address different aspects of O&M.

Shared service providers can conduct performance monitoring to alert themselves of any issues for quick resolution. Selecting the right tool for each context is key. For example, TCG  supports monitoring and resolution of performance issues for Integrity.gov. With the right tool, people, and process in place, Integrity has handled a consistent annual user load increase of 20–50% for five years.

Quality Assurance: We increase service reliability through comprehensive automated testing. When developers commit new code, we use a continuous integration suite to deploy new builds to the integration environment and run automated unit tests, compliance tests, and regression tests. This continuous integration suite provides immediate feedback to developers on potential regression issues. Regular regression testing is necessary to provide assurance that existing functionality has not been compromised by any new software or modifications to existing software. At the conclusion of a testing cycle, the team should evaluate which of the new test cases should be incorporated into the regression test suite.

Communications: Because shared services encompass disparate tools and activities, a central group that coordinates across teams helps the overarching program run smoothly. Using a Scrum of Scrums approach, the centralized group can disseminate strategic decisions to each Agile team for implementation and reorganize work as needed. We use focus groups and user outreach to obtain feedback on services. Outputs from these sessions feed into Sprint Planning where we work with Product Owners to prioritize and estimate changes. This influences the future of products and helps to ensure the shared services continue to meet the user base’s evolving needs. Sales Representatives and other customer liaisons can provide additional support, helping providers to attract new customers and monitor satisfaction and evolving needs of existing customers. 

Ticket Triaging: In addition to a centralized function that sets the strategic goals of the shared service, individual requests must be triaged and assigned to Agile teams for implementation. Through a service desk, technical and business issues can be routed to the appropriate team and staff. Using a ticketing system like Jira we record, track, and resolve change requests and issues. This applies to a range of O&M support, including bug fixes, minor enhancements, and data quality issues.

By implementing the functions above, we’ve developed, managed, operated, maintained, and enhanced government-wide shared services such as MAX.gov, BFEM.gov, Integrity.gov, and NITRC.org. For example, for MAX.gov we collaborated with the Web Application Program Manager to improve accountability and efficiency of work being performed by development teams on multiple initiatives across several agencies.

While these practices may be taken as a starting point, each shared service is unique. Whether your service is mission focused or improves a back office function, the experts at the helm of our Shared Service specialization can design a tailored O&M solution. Interested in what we can do for you? Reach out to us at talktous@tcg.com!