Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
Can you give us a look inside your department’s structure and areas you provide IT support to?
We currently have seven team members including myself and provide IT support for all areas of the tribal government which provides services to over 4700 enrolled tribal members. We have a fairly typical structure that includes: two service desk techs, a network administrator, a systems administrator, a CRM administrator and a database administrator. We also have two college interns working on staff with us right now, which is great! Some of the key divisions of the tribal government our department provides support and services to include; administration, finance, human resources, tribal court/ judicial, education, health services, social services, housing, communications, police, enrollment, language and culture. Based on the growth and needs of our organization we made some changes to the IT department’s organizational chart beginning in April of 2012 when I started in the position of IT Director.
Can you tell us about some of the key projects your team has been working on this year?
Prior to my arrival in the Spring of 2012 the Electronic Health Records project kicked off at our health clinic. It was a fairly big undertaking for our tribe to roll out and was primarily led by our Director of Health with the goal of improving patient care. We currently are in the process of building a new health facility that will house both our health clinic and behavioral health. With the needs of support for the health division increasing we are aiming to have a dedicated IT staff contact at the new site when complete.
After an assessment of our entire infrastructure we made several improvements to our network. Our major goals were to increase bandwidth and improve our storage replace several aging servers, and disaster recovery methods. To achieve this, we installed 50 Megs of fiber, upgraded all of our SANS storage units, replaced equipment to have full redundancy, lightened our server load by deploying virtualization and installing new cooling units. We upgraded MS System Center, our management tool for the entire network. This improvement gives us the ability to push out updates, upgrades and better perform remote monitoring. Other projects that helped with remote access and improved communications were; the installation of MS Office 365, the switch to Cisco VOIP and installation of MS Lync utilizing CuciLync. I believe we are one of the first tribes to do O365. With several of the improvements we’ve made this past year, the upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 to 2011 is one of our biggest moving forward. We utilize the system to manage enrollment and have begun integrating into a few divisions to cut down on waste and improve efficiency by going paperless. We do hope to spread this to as many departments as we can in the upcoming year allowing us to gather citizen data for all the departments in one location.
What else is on the agenda for you and your team coming up?
With so many changes made this past year, we will be focusing on maintaining sustainable levels and providing the best support possible. We are providing training to my staff allowing them to better understand all the upgraded systems we have in place, it’s critical in our industry with the constant rate of change. I am trying to work with wireless carriers to improve cellular service in our area by building a tower on our properties. We are on track to get fiber to our remote sites connecting them back to our main campus.
What can you tell us about how you implemented positive changes for the organization through technology?
When I started as IT Director I set up a 30, 60, and 90 day plan for the department. I wanted to assess, then restructure as needed, in order to better serve the tribe as well as ensure that we were up to date with all the latest IT hardware and programs, utilizing best practices. All of my IT staff attended ITIL training in order to streamline our internal communications and basically put everyone on the same page with terminology and processes. I also stress the importance in having my staff the best trained in the targeted areas they need to be. They continue to attend trainings on a regular basis to stay at the top of the field. They have been outstanding in the process of driving positive changes internally. Of course without funding none of this would have been possible. We were fortunate with a budget increase of over 200% based on a sound strategic IT plan. With so many efforts for change it was extremely important we have support from our Tribal Council. Without that we would not have been able to execute and make the improvements we have.