Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC)
Local Office Infrastructure (LOI) Project
The Cooper Team (with kudos to our business partner on this project, Sirius Computer Solutions) provided project management, architectural design, system design, data migration services, disaster recovery capabilities, purchase of hardware and software, and implementation services for transforming the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHSC) Local Office Infrastructure (LOI). We managed multiple parallel work streams in order to achieve the project’s aggressive time-frames.
The stakeholders for this project included: approximately 700 local eligibility offices (local workers and IT staff) allocated in 254 counties in Texas that provide a broad range of services from Medicaid to Disaster Assistance to Temporary Assistance for needy families and more. With over 529 servers and growing, key issues such as administration, security, server end-of-life, email integration and operating systems limitations were among the key challenges facing the organization.
Working together, we moved it into a state-of-the-art environment, migrating over 14,000 users from Novell to Microsoft AD, and consolidating approximately 529 servers to 150. The Cooper Team also purchased and delivered servers, storage, UPS, and other peripherals, and implemented hardware and software upgrades at 10 regional technology centers and one lab in Austin. Cooper Consulting’s solution brought increased efficiency, higher uptime and availability, and provided a scalable architecture to help HHSC provide better service and administration of Texas Department of Health and Human Services programs. Additional benefits in High Availability and Disaster Recovery were realized as part of Storage Area Network (SAN) and Backup and Recovery (BURA) solution provided.
There was a concerted effort during this project to focus on cultural change management and over-communicating with our stakeholders. All participants understood the urgency of our work and their part in making it happen. Our counter-parts at HHSC were great to work with, and we couldn’t have been successful without the commitment of the entire team.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP) Project
Cooper was awarded a contract at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to enhance and maintain an existing system – the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP) an Environmental Protection Agency grant program. We faced a number of challenges before we stepped in the door. There was to be a month-long hand-off from the vendor who originally created the system. However, the original vendor left before Cooper began the project and no hand-off of any kind was provided. The system was largely undocumented and with very complex with external interfaces that were not well understood. The customers were very unhappy with both the tools used to build the system and the entire concept of trusting a vendor to treat them well. Adding to the challenges were internal communication challenges at the agency that resulted in a contract award without adequate funding.
Our most urgent challenges were these:
- To keep the system functioning while we did archeology to figure out what had been and how.
- Building trust in the user community to prove that, as a company and as a team, we really would do what we said we would do.
- Figuring out how to do all of this for the first year on a very, very limited budget.
We overcame these challenges by working closely with the agency to:
- Be completely transparent in our findings, our problems, and the time we expected to take to come up to speed on the system.
- Understand what worked FOR THEM and what did not work FOR THEM in the system – no saying to them “Well – it works as it was designed to work!”
- Understand the limitations of the business processes and the “silo” nature of the organization and its impact on what was possible to achieve.
- Bring in exactly the right people with the right skills to move easily through these challenges – from our PM, contract manager, lead technical person, business analyst/tester, and tools/system admin guys.
- Prioritize with the customers what must be done right away and the roadmap for future changes and improvements.
From the beginning of the project we focused on great collaboration and execution. We achieved stability of the program, won over the skeptics with functionality, and were rewarded with a more tenable budget. We just completed, in May 2016, a major upgrade to the system to go from 6.X to 7.X version of the application development tool and the application. It was a huge effort because of challenges with the original design and implementation. It was so worth it!
Now we have the ability to more easily maintain, change, and improve the system along with our customers. We are looking, with them, at expanding the system to encompass other types of EPA grant efforts. They would never have considered putting any further business critical systems into this application a couple of years ago – the risk would simply have been too high.