State of Arizona is a Trailblazer

The State of Arizona is a Trailblazer, specializing in the business of IT.


IT organizations are undergoing a metamorphosis.

In just five years, CIOs have gone from thinking their most important skill was “technology know-how” to seeing it now as “contributing to corporate strategy,” according to research by Forbes Insights.  “The skill sets expected of CIOs are shifting,” said Tom Davis, Chief Marketing Officer at Forbes Media. “They need to contribute to corporate strategy and manage a lot of change.”

The public sector is no exception, as proven by the Arizona Strategic Enterprise Technology Office (ASET) and its Business Engineering Division.

Trust is as mission-critical as the mission itself.

ASET, the technology office for the State of Arizona, is responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive information technology strategy for the state. It also provides enterprise-level services for state agencies and maintains service-level agreements that produce significant innovation and cost benefits statewide. ASET is both the strategic IT think tank and enterprise-level executor for the state. “By statute, every state agency is required to submit an IT strategic plan to us each year,” said Doug Lange, State of Arizona Chief Strategy Officer. “We then analyze those plans, identify commonalities, and recommend the solutions that allow us to invest once."

“But Arizona is a federated state,” Lange continued, “meaning that [state agencies] still have the ability to make decisions based on what they feel is best. They aren’t necessarily forced to work with ASET or follow our guidance. In our federated model, if they don’t trust us as a strategic partner and instead see us as an ordinary utility, they can opt to go another route.”

With over 130 agencies, commissions, and boards that employ over 32,000 people — or prospective customers, as Lange and team see them — ASET needed a model that was different from the “stand up new servers or build custom applications.

“We needed to do things better, faster, and cheaper if we were going to build the kind of trust we need in order to fulfill our mission,” he said. “We needed to align ourselves with our governor’s objective to operate at the speed of business.”

Business Engineering: a business-like startup within ASET.

Lange was tasked with launching the Business Engineering Division, a team under ASET that focuses on customer needs by introducing best-of-breed, user-experience-focused technology. For Lange, this meant cloud first. He and his team built a project management platform using Service Cloud and Experience Cloud.  It was configured to put the attention on people and projects rather than process and paperwork.

The FedRAMP-authorized platform uses Service Cloud as a customer relationship management (CRM) foundation. “We identify the agency on the account record, asking for additional information (such as project requests, status updates, and implementation progress) to be stored in a 360-degree, profile-like record,” said Jennifer Quintero, IT Business Analysis Manager in the Business Engineering Division. “We also push conversations to Chatter [a live comment board similar to a newsfeed on Facebook] which gives everyone real-time visibility to recent events with a given agency.”

Then digital community portals extend the CRM’s profile capabilities into its various working functions — Project Investment Justification, (or PIJ), and strategic planning. Project owners from various agencies can log into the community, submit their plans for review, check for status updates, and answer any questions. The Business Engineering Division can plug information from the community directly into the CRM, streamlining the intake and workflow associated with PIJ and strategic planning responsibilities.  “Our goal was to create an easy and effective way for agencies to work with us,” said Quintero.


ASET’s Project Management Platform in Action

Doug Lange and Jennifer Quintero joined us at Dreamforce to share more details about their experience deploying a cloud-based project management platform. Hear more about the strategy and see a demo.
“You can’t build a business on notepads, in Word documents, or spreadsheets,” said Lange. “To give you an idea of size and scope, we currently have 61 projects with $460 million active budget associated with those projects — that’s a lot of money, a lot of taxpayer money. By managing that in a digital CRM environment, we are tracking agencies like a business would track its customers. We are tracking taxpayer dollars like a business would track expenses.”

Tangible results demonstrate real impact statewide.

While thoughtful planning and best-of-breed investments were key objectives, Lange, Quintero, and team measured real success based on outcomes. And, like any successful startup, outcomes they had. 

PIJ approval time dropped from 21 days to just 10 days. Strategic planning went from supporting 24 agencies to supporting over 80 agencies — a more than 250% gain in customers in just two years. The team also saved an estimated $10 million in project costs.

“We can talk about our state, we can talk about vision, we can talk about our solution, but it really all comes down to outcomes that matter to the state,” said Lange. “We couldn’t be prouder of this work. We, as an enterprise-focused organization, are creating trust in a federated model.”


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