Who says government can’t be innovative? For the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which is tasked with supporting U.S. federal agencies with real estate, acquisition, and information technology services, innovation is job number one. Already recognized by InformationWeek and other thought leaders for changing the way the U.S. agencies do business, GSA is continuing to bring agility and efficiency to government — with help from Salesforce. GSA started using Salesforce when its IT department wanted to move away from a traditional infrastructure model with costly, 18-20-month development cycles and expensive, ongoing maintenance. “We wanted to commoditize common services so we could focus our dev efforts on game-changing ones, and make it easier to share information and collaborate,” says Sonny Hashmi, CIO. The agency started by moving onto Google Apps for Government, cutting costs for basic email and collaboration services in half, and saving over $15 million over five years while improving security, availability, and mobility within the GSA enterprise. Next, GSA gave Salesforce Chatter to 17,000 government employees for new levels of collaboration, community building, and knowledge sharing. Internal campaigns helped the agency solicit ideas from employees for additional ways to save money and become more efficient. “We’ve leveraged the power of the cloud to establish a platform where people can work from anywhere and on any device,” explains Hashmi. “We’re showing how government can be more effective and get more value from technology.” After its initial success moving core functions to the cloud, GSA began using the Salesforce Platform to solve additional business challenges and automate even the most complicated processes. New apps manage agency-wide initiatives like project management, requests for funding, investment management, and other agency business processes, with workflows, approvals, and social feeds built in. “We’ve built more than 100 apps in the cloud,” says Hashmi. “And we’re adding new ones every day.” Leveraging the agility and scalability of the cloud has resulted in a 92 percent reduction in total cost of ownership per app, 75 percent reduction in app delivery timeframe, and has allowed GSA to decommission 200+ application servers.
The ability to take work on the go is critical to GSA’s highly mobile workforce. Not only do GSA staff oversee the real estate portfolio for the entire U.S. government, but many work on-site at construction zones or in foreign countries — or even war zones — managing complex projects through their tablets or smartphones. “Our employees can order parts, complete contracts, or do anything they need to do to address a need —seamlessly in the cloud without thick clients or double data entry,” says Hashmi. In the aftermath of super-storm Sandy on the east coast of the U.S., as government agencies and citizens struggled to recover, GSA employees were able to support them every step of the way, on-site within storm damaged areas such as lower Manhattan, connecting with each other and agency data in the cloud. “We’re transforming government with Salesforce. There’s no more business as usual.”