When the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) experienced operational lags due to an outdated core system, it engaged CapTech to collaborate with the agency to implement a system modernization. The project was completed within a tight timeframe, using a unique approach that reduced risk and costs. The modernized Virginia DEQ system received the Virginia Governor’s Technology Award for Innovative Use of Big Data and Analytics.
The Virginia DEQ is committed to protecting the environment and promoting the health and well-being of Virginia’s citizens. This requires maintaining and analyzing a vast amount of data, including records of permits, violations, community projects, and special studies, among others.
Prior to the modernization project, the DEQ was conducting its core operations on a legacy technology system that relied on out-of-date servers and unsupported software applications. Because of this, the potential for data exchange inside and outside the agency was limited, data quality was insufficient, security was a growing concern, and many processes were carried out manually. Scaling the system to meet growing demands was critical to improve efficiency, allow better use of data across its divisions and programs, and facilitate compliance of a variety of state and federal requirements.
Facing a tight deadline and recognizing the need to plan and establish efforts to support the large and complex system modernization, the agency engaged CapTech.
The agency’s technology infrastructure was unable to support the volume of changes and concurrent projects necessary to complete the modernization and meet desired target dates. Preparation for modernization included:
Planning and implementing a strategy for enterprise system modernization
Revamping many of the agency’s operational and release management processes
Incorporating updated development and project management methodologies
Defining a framework and developing the new system to support future agency needs
Helping technical staff adjust to newer technologies
The DEQ partnered with CapTech to assess the scope and define an approach that divided the project into manageable pieces to minimize risk, keep relevant business stakeholder groups small, and better support iterative development with multiple teams. It consisted of four major steps and 20 smaller (4-6 month) overlapping development projects to rewrite the agency’s system.
Once the delivery model was in place, CapTech built an API framework upon the agency’s existing robust and stable underlying databases. CapTech also identified and built common, reusable User Interface components that were used as a foundation for the front-end work. A reporting infrastructure was also developed to support the analysis needs of each stakeholder group. This resulted in a consistent architecture utilizing current .NET technologies and web frameworks, including a personalized dashboard tailored to specific user functions.
Finally, the DEQ and CapTech tailored a development methodology using client-appropriate software development lifecycle, project management, and organizational change management techniques to help ensure the product was the best possible for the agency’s user community and to help promote user acceptance and adoption.
This innovative approach enabled the DEQ’s modernization project to be completed on time and under budget, and the modernized system was awarded the Virginia’s Governor’s Technology Award for Innovative Use of Big Data and Analytics. The benefits of the modernization included:
A revamped front-end system, including over 50 modules covering monitoring, permitting, compliance, and enforcement functions for Water, Air, Petroleum Tanks, and Solid Waste regulatory programs serving 700 users
Decommissioned legacy servers, saving the agency both hosting and support costs
A standard, modern, scalable, secure, and reliable agency-wide framework that met the DEQ’s needs and supported its evolving business processes
An improved end user experience with a clean design in a consistent and fully integrated application suite, tying together enterprise environmental data, GIS, document management, and financial systems
Adoption of a PMO governance approach and continued use of the project execution model on all IT efforts across the agency
Greater transparency, enabling improvements in tracking and process management across agency functions