Case Management and Labor Exchange Upgrade Provides Citizen Enablement

State of IN DWD Case Management and Labor Exchange Upgrade Provides Citizen Enablement

Setting the Stage

Seeking employment, an individual sits down with a morning cup of coffee and logs into the Indiana Career Connect mobile app. On the app, the individual reviews the job openings that exist, quickly identifying potential opportunities within a reasonable commute, finds jobs that fit their skill set, applies within the app, and heads off to the next job interview.

This is the new reality for citizens of the State of Indiana seeking to gain meaningful employment. With a new technology platform, inclusive of a mobile application to serve citizens as part of its technology upgrade, it’s possible to find the right job with a few clicks of a button.

The State of Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) recognized the potential technology held in empowering its citizens, which launched its initiative to integrate its Case Management (CM) and Labor Exchange (LX) systems.

Project Management

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“This was a multifaceted project with many moving parts. We wanted resources involved who were used to large-scale program management. That’s where KSMC came in.”

Steve Elliott
State of Indiana, Department of Workforce Development, Chief Information Officer

The Problem

Inconsistent data that required manual intervention, plus out-of-support and difficult-to-manage technology, meant DWD needed to prioritize a technology upgrade. Because of the challenges with the old system, an upgrade meant saving money in the long run in addition to better serving Hoosiers.

To assist job seekers with securing employment and enabling employers to find trained workers, DWD launched its technology upgrade project. With job seeker data in one system and case management data in another, the decision was made to implement an integrated, vendor-developed Case Management and Labor Exchange (CMLX) technology solution to replace its legacy systems.

In conjunction, the agency saw an opportunity to improve its processes and procedures surrounding data collection and retention. Understanding the power of data to provide valuable insights to the agency, DWD sought to implement consistent data collection standards across the State.

Applying these data standards alongside the new system allows the agency to measure performance across the State and gather valuable information about its employers and job seekers. With the right data, DWD knew it had the potential to see where industries are growing, and ultimately, begin to intelligently prepare the workforce for future jobs.

The agency established the following guiding goals for the project:

  • Increase transparency through internal performance metrics around federal and state programs to determine their effectiveness in serving citizens across industries and economies of Indiana.
  • Augment accuracy and collection of both the job seeker and employer data across the State.
  • Implement a technology upgrade that integrates job seeker data and case manager data into one system for increased insights.

Having worked alongside KSM Consulting (KSMC) to launch its unemployment insurance modernization system, Uplink, DWD turned to KSMC to once again assist with undertaking this project and ensuring a successful implementation. KSMC achieved this by managing the hybrid vendor and state-employee project team, overseeing all elements of project planning and management, as well as making sure agency resources were properly trained and prepared for this change. The project officially kicked off in February 2016.

Project Assurance Defined

Assuring success of people, process, and technology by:

  • Providing an independent and ongoing review of the project;
  • Monitoring project health, providing oversight of progress, and giving advice to achieve success; and
  • Planning and managing the execution of the project with a diverse project team.

The Solution

Involved at project initiation, KSMC served in a project assurance capacity. As the project assurance partner, KSMC was responsible for ensuring that all parties were driving to the same goals and taking the steps needed to achieve them.

The procurement process led to the selection of a commercial-off-the-shelf solution, Geographic Solutions, as the appropriate technology to fulfill the needs of citizens, employers, and vendors, as well as the State in meeting its reporting requirements.

Once the vendor was selected, project work began. To ensure success, the KSMC team focused on:

  • Providing transparency and visibility into project status and progress;
  • Evaluating critical processes and work products at each phase of the project; and
  • Creating and updating a project dashboard that detailed, agreed-upon measures of progress for stakeholders and evaluated critical elements that had the potential to deter success.

Project Management

At the heart of KSMC’s involvement in the project was its focus on serving as the champion of both business users and technical users of the solution. From an external vantage point, the team bridged the gap between stakeholders and held both the State and the vendor, Geographic Solutions, accountable to ensure the system was ready for go live. To keep everyone on track, the KSMC team developed a detailed project plan for the vendor and client, bi-weekly status reports for the agency executive team, and produced project management deliverables, including the risk register, issues log, communication plan, and more. The KSMC team’s role also encompassed the data conversion effort as well as testing and training.

Data Conversion

Critical to the success of the project was the data conversion effort, championed by the KSMC team. As data was transitioned out of the old system and into the new system, the team worked closely with the former and current vendors.

With data retention mandated by law, converting the data from the legacy system architecture to the new system architecture required intense due diligence. The process was two-fold: identify where data existed in the legacy system and where it needed to go in the new system, and develop a bridge to complete the data conversion.

First, the KSMC team had to identify where data would live in the two system architectures by:

  • Uncovering the data in the legacy system that would not have a place to live in the new system; and
  • Determining what data the new system required to function that didn’t currently exist.

Once identified, a bridge between the two systems had to be developed. The team created transformation tables to convert the data from its source to its target. This process included establishing the correct placement of key data from the legacy system and developing a plan to generate the currently nonexistent data the new system required.

As the team planned for deployment, they underwent mock conversions, extracted data, performed lookups to ensure the data was transferred according to plan, and ultimately, gained a complete picture of what the results of the data conversion would be.

“We set a deadline thirteen months out. It not only had to be a specific day, but a specific morning, and it had to be orchestrated from day one. We hit it that morning. That is impressive. It was a big milestone for our team and KSMC played a critical role in ensuring it happened.”

Steve Elliott
State of Indiana, Department of Workforce Development, Chief Information Officer

Testing and Training

Before go live, two steps were critical to success: testing and training.

Converted data was brought into the system and tested by subject matter experts (SMEs) who hold a deep understanding of data

norms – field SMEs tested for data accuracy and internal SMEs tested to ensure the data represented typical results. Leveraging SMEs for initial configuration testing ensured the data was properly added to the new system, setting the team up for success.

Then, the team conducted comprehensive training to ensure end-user buy-in and adoption. The KSMC team trained over 60 SMEs ranging from field workers to program directors on the new system. These efforts helped to successfully accomplish the objective to empower the SMEs to train its 1,000 field staff.

Additional training resources were developed including transformation notes and a training guide. The transformation notes showcased how the data would display in the new system compared to the old system as much had changed due to its integrated nature. The team enhanced the vendor’s training guide by requesting feedback from program directors, policymakers, project team members, and beyond, relative to incorporating Indiana-specific policies and procedures. Ultimately, the team’s goal was to make go live as seamless and straightforward as possible for end users.

“With the new technology in place, we can spend less time focusing on the technology and more time serving the citizens of Indiana efficiently and effectively.”

Steve Braun
State of Indiana, Department of Workforce Development, Former Commissioner

Communication

With testing and training complete, communication became paramount. Having gathered enough data to understand with certainty the extent of downtime required for the launch of the new system, the KSMC team shifted gears to ensuring stakeholders, including citizens, employers, and partners, were aware of what to expect on launch day.

Go Live and Post Go Live

Scheduled nearly eighteen months in advance, the team pressed go live, and the project launched, on time and under budget. Following go live, KSMC served as DWD’s partner throughout its maintenance and support phase.

“Consistent, actionable data is a critical asset that all businesses need today. Through its data analytics tools, DWD is providing that data and insight. This is a critical first step in helping effectively align workforce with industry needs.”

Paul Perkins
Amatrol CEO and President, State Workforce Innovation Council Chairman

Impact

Because of the integration of the two disparate systems, case managers can now more effectively serve citizens. Case managers have access to resumes of job seekers, a deeper understanding of the jobs citizens have applied for, and the services a job seeker has or has not been provided. This knowledge has empowered case managers to advise job seekers on the appropriate service eligibility and make recommendations based on a job seeker’s specific case. When employers request specific skill sets to fulfill a need within their organization, case managers can more accurately recommend the right individuals for the right jobs.

The integrated CMLX system has brought together job data and job seeker data, allowing case managers to troubleshoot skills, determine which jobs are in-demand, review wage information, and more accurately recommend services such as a resume or interview prep to meet the needs of the citizens they serve. In addition, case managers can compile mandated federal and state reports with ease, enabling greater efficiency.

By implementing the new commercial-off-the-shelf product, DWD has freed up resources to focus its time on servicing citizens by eliminating the need for system maintenance and support. The easily configurable system can readily adapt to updated laws and regulations, as well as to the needs of citizens now and in the future.

Citizens now have state-of-the-art technology to leverage including the addition of a mobile-friendly application as they seek employment. The technology benefits citizens in their job search, Indiana businesses in finding the right people, and DWD in more quickly and accurately facilitating job placement.

DWD is looking at data in a new way to drive insights and decisions. The collection of critical data surrounding Indiana employment, skills, competencies, and training are assisting the agency with understanding and preparing for new and growing industry needs across the State.

This project is only the beginning as the State continues to leverage its data and new technologies to serve the citizens of Indiana.