OIT staff flex their vision with business improvement pitches to the Front Office

A shark wearing glasses speaks while holding a notebook
Title for Related Series
Related Stories


Inside the Shark Tank: Data Concierge

A shark wearing glasses speaks while holding a notebook

At the April All-Staff meeting, OIT leadership challenged employees to propose solutions that target opportunities for improvement. In this series, we are sharing brief summaries of the resulting proposals, playfully dubbed “shark tank pitches,” that your colleagues presented to the Front Office, with updates on their progress.

Microsoft Excel is kind of like that old Honda Accord. There are prettier cars. There are fancier cars. There are faster cars. There are more fuel-efficient cars. But the trusty old steed just keeps on ticking. 

Melissa Dehn knows this all too well. A CMS Enterprise Architect in the Division of Enterprise Architecture, Dehn has spent 13 years building business process models for teams across the agency.

She has noticed that, as more robust data software comes to market, many people still stick with the tried and true. You can’t fault something that works, but, Dehn says, “There may be circumstances where businesses would benefit from having something a bit more robust than Excel.”

She notes one business owner that manually updates a 50-column spreadsheet with 19,000 entries – much of it not relevant to the business – daily. Multiple people work in the database, overriding each other’s work and adding their own formulas. Automating this process would reduce burden and decrease errors while also increasing consistency. In addition, newer tools could also analyze and visualize large datasets. 

Dehn understands, however, that two big barriers to switching tools are the learning curve and a general fear of change. 

So, she wondered, what if OIT offered a service for customers that would like to migrate large datasets or build new ones? With an expert holding their hand throughout the process of adopting new tools and methods, these customers would feel less risk.

After sharing this idea with the Front Office, Dehn has been on a fact-finding mission, educating herself about databases and surveying business owners to gauge interest in migrating databases. She has even found a pilot use case.

Because Dehn is not a database expert herself, she is recruiting the help of subject matter experts (SMEs) who can advise clients. And she is still gathering a list of business owners who would like to migrate data from Excel. 

Title for Related Series
Related Stories

Recent Articles

Recent Media