Lead Developer at State of Nebraska Caleb Wederquist Talks IT Challenges at Future of State’s IT Approach

Watching digital transformation take place at a local level is always rewarding as a citizen. With more and more government offices putting IT modernization and digital transformation into effect every day, it’s important to look at the processes being put in place to bring that technology both government entities and citizens.

We recently spoke with Caleb Wederquist, Lead Developer at State of Nebraska, about what his team is doing to bring better, more efficient services to the people of Nebraska. In this installment of our Q&A with him, he discusses important lessons learned, cloud adoption approaches, and what the future IT approach for the state of Nebraska looks like:

FTI: Can you discuss some of the challenges you’ve faced or lessons learned throughout this deployment process?

CW: We deployed OnBase about six years ago, and at first, it was really challenging to get people on board. We had to actually build a stakeholders team to really get going. So our biggest challenge ever since, and it will continue to be a challenge, is just change. People do not like change, but it’s something we’ve always had to deal with.

Learning that we bit off too much at one time was one of our biggest lessons learned. It’s important to look at a project and really break it down into its fundamentals in order to figure out what we want to change, what we want to keep, what do we need to get rid of, and how do we convert all of this into an electronic process.

We’ve also learned a lot about communication. Communicating with your end users, your customers, the teams that are supporting you, your own team. You have to build on that transparency and keep the lines of communication open and clear, so that people really understand what’s going on across the board and what’s changing. That’s how you avoid any of those “Oh, by the way…” moments that take everyone by surprise and send people running.

Coming back to embracing change, it’s very likely that you’re going to work with a customer who’s having a hard time adapting or struggling to see the big picture and saying, “You guys have all this technology… where do I start?” What we’ve learned to do is take a very small piece of that technology and just work on this one piece and show the benefit of it, so you gain perspective about what you could potentially accomplish on a bigger scale.

And a lot of our long-time customers, like Agriculture and Health and Human Services, they started off small and saw what we could do with OnBase and what we could do with enterprise content management and services; then they went bigger with their approach and really started saving money.

FTI: With a push for more electronic interfaces for end users, is cloud adoption a big part of your technology approach?

CW: On some fronts. It depends on what the cloud technology is. I would say if it meets the demands for this and is something we see as a secure process, then there are some avenues of cloud that will work for us. We’ve largely used an on premise approach for a lot of our technology, because we have the IT teams to support it and manage it, but we are looking at some cloud options for improved functionality and improved expandability and accessibility.

FTI: What are some of the State of Nebraska’s goals for future tech adoption and integration?

CW: We have a set of priorities and values and all of our tech goals are wrapped up around those items. For example, under our priorities we want efficiency and effectiveness, so we already see how efficiency couples with going electronic and embracing automation. Other priorities include customer service, growth, public safety, and reduced regulatory burden. All of our technological goals will revolve around those.

What we value are the taxpayers, our team, simplicity, transparency, accountability, integrity, and respect. At a broad level all of our technology goals are to align with those. We want to be sure we’re respecting the taxpayer money in what we do. We want to make sure that all our new technology we’re using is going to make processes more efficient and simplified and transparent to the users. We want to continue to move more towards self-service and empowering people do their own work by providing that information they need anywhere, anytime.

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