JCMS – Code Name Phoenix

July 9, 2008

Well, it’s official…

The JCMS collaboration project has been approved by Tarrant County.

For additional information click here

Very exciting to rise from the ashes!


Agile Contracting in the Public Sector

July 7, 2008

Of late, we’ve been doing a lot custom application development work…

I thought I would post a link to a recent contract we executed and see what other organizations are doing…

The contract materials are located here:

Contract Materials

A couple of things of note:

  • Tarrant County is a Public Sector organization, so the rules are very different from Private Sector.
  • It is important to have a predictable cost model
  • The scope at the beginning of the contract is almost always an unknown
  • Jeremy Miller Presentation at Agile Austin

    July 4, 2008

    Jeremy Miller speaks on ‘How does design get done in Agile?” at the July 01, 2008 Agile Austin meeting

    Video is posted here…

    Organized Crime

    July 4, 2008

    I am pretty sure we are like all large IT shops.  Not all that different than the Five Families.  Each family has it’s own interests at heart and will in fact “kill” a good idea to preserve those interests.

    I had a really good discussion with our Operations Manager this afternoon. His vision is spot on with my own. His job is to “keep the lights on” and my job is to “install the dimmer switch.”

    At first glance, those objectives seem to be mutually exclusive, but that doesn’t represent the reality of the world we live in. Every time I introduce a change to the Production Environment, we both share a common risk, that is the Customer is going to call if something is broken. They don’t particularly care if it’s because of a software bug or some server failed. They care that it’s broken and they desire (demand) that we remedy it pronto.

    Now back to the “bosses”…

    There is an inheirent risk and resultant organizational trauma to change. In particular, when the change is to the organization itself. We’ve been toying with this notion of setting up an Competency Center for Integrated Justice. Sure, we’ve got one of those for SAP and that is the only way to go, right?

    That works until you bring Q/A into the mix…

    Probate Courts – The Death March Project

    July 4, 2008

    About 4 years ago, we did an RFP with the Texas Conference of Urban Counties for a Court Case Management System.  We ended up selecting a product called Odyssey from Tyler Technologies.

    Now don’t get me wrong, Odyssey is an impressive Case Management System and Tyler has been a good partner for us.  However…

    It has taken an infinity plus one to get this project headed toward the finish line.  At long last, I can at least see it.  We are coming up on the final delivery of our fit gap requirements into the product.  We’ll go through another round of configuration and hopefully be live with the new system in the early fall.  Fingers crossed…

    One of the many things I plan to blog on is the implementation of COTS solutions in Public Sector and in particular in the Integrated Justice domain.  I’ve got some very mixed feelings on this.  On the one hand, it’s very attractive to be able to implement a product in a relatively short period of time.  On the other, that’s not been our actual experience.  Brings up two very significant issues that duly deserve their own blogs; Customization and Integration.

    More on that in the future…

    Criminal Justice – Reboot

    July 4, 2008

    Now that we’ve got the IJIS CCC in place, we have re-booted development on our Adult Criminal Justice System.

    Some things have changed since our last development cycle.  Most notably, we’ve changed vendors and methodologies.  Both of these are having an extremely high impact on our projects…

    We’ve been moving toward an agile method for a while now at Tarrant County.  If you’ve ever worked in a Public Sector environment, you know agile and government are not exactly complementary.

    Of course, it helps if you’ve got a good vendor to help you along the way and we are very fortunate to have found a vendor (XPedient Technologies) that is willing to be our partner (that in itself is worthy of a whole series of blogs).  Maybe it was by accident our perhaps some strange twist of fate, but we are finally starting to make progress to the ultimate goal!

    We are coming up on the end of our first release and I think it’s fair to say, it’s been a learning experience for every one involved.  There is something to be said for Risk/Reward.

    Look for a lot more in the coming month on my experiences with agile…

    Integrated Justice – Unplugged

    July 4, 2008

    Since my last blog (what was that a year ago?), there has been a lot going on with Integrated Justice at Tarrant County.  For the past year, instead of building software, my focus has been on organizational development.

    We have now created an Integrated Justice Core Competency Center (man is that a mouthful!)…

    The mission of this group is to provide 24x7x365 service and support to the Justice Stakeholder Community.  We currently have 34 full-time employees, 8 project employees, and 20 consultants.

    Now that I’ve got the organizational structure in place, watch for a lot more action on the development front.

    JCMS Collaboration – Part Duex

    July 4, 2008

    Well, as things tend to go…

    The contract for JCMS was not approved this week.  Minor detail, the financial details didn’t match up with the original budget appropriation.

    Not to worry, it will be up for approval next week.

    And then, the real fun begins!

    JCMS Collaboration

    June 29, 2008

    We’ve been in a collaborative development process with Bexar/Dallas Counties and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission to build a new Juvenile Justice Case Management System (JCMS).  In the next week or so, a contract will be signed and Headspring will officially start work.  

    I am pretty excited about this for a couple of reasons…

    • Collaborative development in Public Sector is a brave new world.
    • The product will be delivered in an agile way.



    It’s been such a long time… I think I should be going…

    June 29, 2008

    Well, it’s been a while since I last posted to this blog.

    It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, but building Rome has proven not only to take more than a day, it also consumes all of my time…

    Hopefully, I’ll be able to post on a more frequent basis.