“I need to do one thing,” an exasperated attendee from a DoD agency told me last Wednesday at the 930Gov conference in Washington. “Why do I have three different systems to do it?”

His story is not unique. Unfortunately neither is his IT architecture. 

Officials from across the federal government, from defense to civilian, senior management to human resources and spots between, told the same story again and again at the Servicefront booth. For every goal a federal end-user is trying to achieve, there’s a seemingly a longer and longer list of ways to do it.

Even within a single agency, different offices use different software systems to do the same thing. For example, D.C. may have one system, Dallas another and San Diego a third. It’s costly and inefficient to maintain multiple systems.

It’s even more inefficient because it impacts user productivity, which, as we might remember is the point of advancing technology in the first place.

The problem is that we don’t build enterprises that are user-focused. Rather, we build enterprises in silos, where individual technical solutions solve individual problems with little thought about how solutions fit together and less thought about how users accomplish their tasks. Enterprises tend to be defined by technology and by projects, rather than by user need, so problems like the DoD user’s are frustratingly common. Technical objectives are met, but the overarching goal of getting work done may suffer.

Fortunately, we built Servicefront.

As a user consolidation portal, Servicefront was designed to bridge multiple systems, even duplicate systems. Our role- and attribute-based access control allows very specific settings for users, groups, divisions, departments and locations. While D.C. uses System A, Dallas uses System B and San Diego uses System C, Servicefront can present the same user interface for all users while initially bridging the user to their local system. As consolidation efforts progress and San Diego decommissions System C, the users in San Diego maintain their same interface but are now running on Dallas’ System B.

San Diego users don’t have to learn a new system. They don’t realize their system doesn’t even exist anymore. And they don’t care! When D.C. users start using the new system, it’s just as seamless. As systems are consolidated, O&M costs decrease, user frustration decreases, not user productivity. The same is true when Dallas upgrades the system, all users already know how to use the system and there is no drop in productivity while learning a new system.

When the new consolidated system is eventually replaced, Servicefront provides a consistent user interface.

Whatever the architecture, Servicefront can help agencies across the federal landscape ensure one task has one tool and one interface, no matter where you are.

About the Author CJ Johnson, Servicefront Solutions Architect

CJ Johnson is a senior solutions architect at NJVC and is leading NJVC's efforts to reinvent enterprise IT. She has solved IT challenges for the federal government across three continents and in four languages for more than 20 years. She is an ardent hockey fan (and is known to live stream games at 0230).