Governments Can Simplify to Reduce Debt
During NASCIO Midyear 2023, Utah CIO Alan Fuller spoke about how streamlining reduces technical debt for his state. He told Government Technology that the state has a portfolio of roughly 1,600 applications. Over the past several years, Utah has moved about half of its systems to the cloud. And where possible, the state is moving to commercial off-the-shelf solutions to lower the cost of administering systems. Custom applications have high support costs and may open security vulnerabilities, he said.
In reports including “The Need for Speed,” NASCIO stresses the importance of reducing technical debt and suggests avenues such as low-code and no-code software development as a means of addressing it.
“Due to workforce shortages and the desire to reduce technical debt created by custom applications, LC/NC really fills a need,” NASCIO notes in “The Need for Speed.”
Low-code and no-code software development is exactly what it sounds like: It is the adoption of an application that doesn’t require software coding expertise.
“Low-code and no-code development tools enable end users who may not have coding skills to become citizen developers, creating apps without having to pull in IT resources or programmers. The tools offer drag-and-drop functionality as well as templates for common features such as e-commerce capabilities, and they can help organizations dramatically increase the speed and efficiency with which they deploy new applications,” notes a CDW white paper, “How a Modernized Digital Experience Improves Hybrid Work.”
State and Local Agencies Can Automate to Reduce Debt
CDW advises that adopting DevOps can reduce technical debt.
In a blog on DevOps, CDW’s Roger Campbell says that traditional development environments cannot systemically address performance issues that accumulate in an application over time. Because IT officials may face urgent problems that require solutions now, they could neglect these growing performance issues in the background.
“In a DevOps environment, by contrast, organizations can automate workflows in ways that prevent technical debt from building up,” he notes.
Technical debt can build if people don’t recognize the problem. When adopting DevOps, government teams receive constant feedback to identify problems quickly and respond promptly.
Governments Can Streamline to Reduce Debt
In 2022, the Center for Digital Government recognized Oakland County, Mich., as a top digital county due to its efforts to reduce technical debt. The county adopted a cloud-first strategy and streamlined business processes for government agencies.
The county centralized and mainstreamed processes with an identity and access management solution from Okta. “Oakland County decided to reduce its technical debt by modernizing its infrastructure and placing a strong identity solution at its core,” Okta notes in a case study.
To get there, the county had to retire applications that were contributing to delays in its business processes and no longer fully meeting the needs of its agencies. By studying how to streamline processes, the county was able to reduce the number of applications in use, cut maintenance requirements and reduce its technical debt.