Gartner PCC Follow-up: Interview with Chaeny Emanavin, Usability Lead - Office of Information Development for the US. Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs

Last week at the Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration conference in Baltimore, Chaeny and I co-presented on Oracle Enterprise 2.0 and BIA's Citizen Portal. Chaeny's presentation about the BIA solution was very well received and I wanted to do a follow-up interview with Chaeny to discuss more details about their solution and its Enterprise 2.0 features.

Ajay: What were the main objectives for the BIA Citizen Portal?
Chaeny: The BIA Citizen Portal is designed to provide all the services of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the community of 564 federally recognized tribes that include over 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. The BIA provides the same breadth of services that the entire U.S. Federal Government provides in one small Bureau. So, we needed a solution that was flexible enough to handle content ranging from law enforcement to housing to education. Key objectives for external users was to use the Web as a communications channel and keep them informed on what services are available. We also wanted to build an internal web presence and community for BIA's 5000 employees to ensure that they update their content, leverage internal experts and create single sources of truth for key policy documents.

Ajay: How is the project being implemented?
Chaeny: We are using a phased approach. In phases 1 & 2, interim internal and external sites were built to ensure usability and functional requirements are being met. In Phases 3 & 4, we built out a modern internal and external presence using Oracle WebCenter Suite and Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM), including enabling delegated content management for our internal business units. Phase 4 was completed in January 2010. Phase 5 will add deeper Enterprise 2.0 collaboration capabilities to the solution.

Ajay: Are you integrating any existing sites into the new solution?
Chaeny: Yes, we have a SharePoint implementation that we are using for document management. We needed more precise functionality however. We found that SharePoint would let individual administrators of a SharePoint site actually create new sites. In a 3 months span, we had over 200 new sites created and most were not being used. So, we had an enormous sprawl problem. Our requirements mandated increased governance and more granular control over the creation of sites and flexible user access to content. In SharePoint this required custom code and was very time-intensive which was unfeasible given our tight deadlines. We are piloting Oracle WebCenter Spaces as our collaboration solution to mitigate these issues. However, we must integrate our existing SharePoint investment which we can do easily by using the SharePoint connectors available in Oracle WebCenter and UCM.

Ajay: What were the key design parameters for your solution?
Chaeny: We wanted everything driven by standards and policies. We created a cross-functional steering group called the Indian Affairs Web Council to codify policies that were baked into the system. Other key design areas were focused on security/governance, self-service content management, ease of use, integration with legacy applications and seamless single sign-on. We are using Dublin Core as our metadata standard. We also are using Java, APEX, and ADF as our development standards.

Ajay: Why was it important to standardize on a platform?
Chaeny: We initially looked at best-of-breed solutions, but we faced a lot of issues getting the different solutions to work together. Going with an integrated solution was more economical, easier to learn and faster to deliver the solution.

Ajay: What type of legacy applications are you integrating into the portal?
Chaeny: Initially we are starting with administrative apps such as people directory and user admin and then we will integrate HR and Financial applications among others.

Ajay: Can you describe some of the E20 collaboration features you are putting into the solution?
Chaeny: We are adding Enterprise 2.0 using Oracle WebCenter Spaces to deliver different collaboration tools such as wikis, blogs and discussion forums. Wikis to create rapid, ad hoc monthly roll-up reports; discussion forums to provide context-specific help; blogs to capture tacit organization knowledge from experts, identify gurus and turn tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge.

Ajay: Are you doing anything specifically to spur adoption and usage?
Chaeny: Yes, we did several things that I think helped us ramp quickly. First, we met our commitments for the new system launch date and also provided extra resources for a customer support "hotline" during the launch period. Prior to launch, we did exhaustive usability studies to capture user requirements around functionality, navigation and other key interaction areas. We also created extensive training programs so that the content managers in each business unit were comfortable using the content management tools and knew the best practices for usage. Finally, to launch the Enterprise 2.0 collaboration capabilities, we are working with a pilot group from the Division of Forestry and Wildland Fire Management of BIA. This group of people in the past have been willing early adopters and they have a strong business need to collaborate with many agencies both internal and external across State, County and other Federal jurisdictions. Their feedback is key to helping us launch Enterprise 2.0 successfully in our broader organization.

Ajay: What were the biggest benefits to internal BIA employees and to the external community of users?
Chaeny: For our employees, the new Enterprise 2.0-based solution will make it easier to find information; enhance employee productivity by embedding standard business processes into the system and create more of a community by creating connections with experts via social collaboration to ultimately provide better services more quickly. For the external American Indian and Alaska Native communities, we have a better relationship with the users and the new site has improved BIA's perception as a more responsive and customer-centric organization.

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