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IT Project Lead - Product/Agile Framework

St Paul, MN
NorthShore Resources has a need for an IT Project Lead - Product/Agile Framework for a long term project at one of our clients.

Description of Project
The Office of MNIT Services (MNIT) has been engaged in planning efforts aimed at maturing the agencies processes, to ensure business need are met now and in the future.  MNIT is seeking a vendor to provide resources to assist in these efforts.  This engagement may stretch through a series of phases outlined in the bullets below. 
  • Partnering with MNIT and our pilot agency,  Department of Human Services/MNsure to provide expertise and support in transforming the IT operating model from project to product, driving adoption of Agile and DevOps frameworks. This modernization will be transformational in nature, impacting thousands of state employees in both MNIT and our partner agencies (the business), involving changes for every aspect of the organization.
  • Identifying/creating a repeatable framework for MNIT to use in adopting Agile with our partner agencies to ensure when MNIT takes on information technology projects we reach a product using a consistent set of repeatable methodologies. The framework should include, at a minimum: guidance, examples, templates, roadmaps, agendas, key performance indicators (KPIs) presentations and other materials.
  • Partnering with MNIT champions to drive adoption through education and support of leaders as they begin using these methodologies.  
Work is expected to be performed remotely, due to the pandemic, and may require some on-site time at various state office locations as the situation permits.

Resource Need
This request is for a vendor to provide one key/lead resource, with the option of using additional support staff as needed throughout the phases.  

Mode of Interview
The State will conduct interviews with vendor representative(s) and the key resource presented in response to this event.  The State reserves the right to remove a vendor from consideration if the vendor is unavailable for the interview as requested by the State.  Interview format will be through a virtual meeting format.

Project Milestones and Schedule
  • Anticipated Project Start Date: 02/10/2021
  • Anticipated End Date: 06/30/2022


Phase 1

MNIT is seeking a vendor to assist our pilot agency, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), with moving its IT operating model to an approach that is product-based and inclusive of Agile and DevOps principles.  The bullets below represent task areas we envision as being part of this phase.  Vendor should describe in the work plan how they would accomplish the work as MNIT is seeking vendor guidance on how to best achieve this.  Phase 1 lays the ground work for Phase 2 and may be done simultaneously with Phase 2. 
DHS helps provide essential services to Minnesota's most vulnerable residents. Working with many others, including counties, tribes and nonprofits, DHS helps ensure that Minnesota seniors, people with disabilities, children and others meet their basic needs and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
While the vast majority of human services in Minnesota are provided by our partners, DHS sets policies and directs the payments for many of the services delivered. As the largest state agency, DHS administers about one-third of the state budget with a staff of over 6500 employees spanning the entire state, with about 2500 staff at the DHS central offices in St Paul, Minnesota.
Supported by Minnesota’s Information Technology agency, MNIT Services, more than 300 system and technology applications and several major system delivery systems (legacy systems) are maintained. Read more about them here. IT staff, numbering over 650 including state staff and contractors, are currently organized functionally. A portfolio of around 70 IT projects is overseen by MNIT to deliver needed business functionality to existing and new systems. In addition to DHS, MNIT Services supports MNsure, a Minnesota-made health insurance marketplace, where Minnesotans can shop, compare and choose health insurance coverage that meets their needs.
  • With the context of IT’s scope of responsibility at DHS and MNsure, provide guidance for starting a product-centric operating model transformation, navigating through the transformation process, accomplishing the implementation, and evaluating its success while addressing the cultural environment and leadership engagement needed for enterprise wide digital transformation.
  • Educate MNIT and business executives and transformation team regarding the value of Agile, DevOps, and other necessary practices and processes to support a product-oriented operating model.
  • Partner with Organization Change Management resources to ensure successful transformation through engaged and informed leadership and a workforce prepared for change through careful attention to cultural indicators.
  • Identify potential pitfalls and risks to successful transformation and potential ways to mitigate them.
  • Identify constraints, including bureaucratic processes that challenge the successful transformation and engage with relevant leaders to overcome them while maintaining compliance.
Organizational Realignment
  • Advise agency leaders regarding engagement and alignment across the organization (MNIT and business).
  • Advise the team and decision makers in the context of the relevant bargaining agreements regarding organizational size and structure, new roles and their ideal placement among business or IT, and fixed versus variable labor. Identify recommendation for individual, group and enterprise training to facilitate the successful adoption of new roles and processes.   
  • Participate in the revision of project and portfolio reporting to align with Agile, DevOps, and product-oriented practices while still meeting all required reporting standards for state government and recipients of enhanced federal funding.
  • Design an approach to determining product taxonomy that reflects the 1) existing level of architectural maturity, 2) complexity of existing policy and IT systems, as well as the 3) current state of the partnership between MNIT and the business. The result will be establishment of a clear definition of “What is a Product?” and a listing of the products within the organization as well as a mapping of technologies to products.
  • Define the needed architectural structure to support the transformation across the existing tools, software, and infrastructure components used to deliver software in the organization in a way that will allow the benefits of the transformation to be realized as efficiently as possible.
  • Participate in developing the roadmap to transformation, which may include piloting aspects of the changes and later scaling them across the organization, identifying skills gaps and strategies to close gaps, and identifying indicators of success and strategies to optimize.
  • Identify tools already in place that can be leveraged to support the transformation and ongoing operations in a product centric operating model; those that are no longer needed; and gaps in the toolset.
  • Coach the team and decision makers to reimagine and effectively implement revisions to planning, prioritization, and governance across technology and business in a product model.
  • Coach the team on how to structure the funding models in support of a product-centric operating model.
  • Contribute to development and ongoing assessment of the transformation communication strategy as well as approaches to tracking and measuring success.

Phase 2

As work is completed in Phase 1, MNIT is looking for a repeatable framework for MNIT to use in adopting Agile at additional partner agencies.  MNIT seeks a framework for the areas listed below.  Framework may include guidance, examples, templates, roadmaps, agendas, presentations, and other materials.  As the framework MNIT is seeking knowledge transfer to designated state staff regarding the materials and their application so that the framework can be applied in the future.  Applying Organizational Change Management principles, develop a variety of strategies to successfully engage and implement agile at agencies. Strategies may include a workshop for designated MNIT and Business leaders to understand agile concepts and their role within and the framework and other approaches to successfully transition to the new model to deliver ongoing business outcomes. 
  • Addressing the cultural environment and leadership engagement needed for large scale Agile adoption.
  • Getting the transformation toward Agile started, driving it, and sustaining it, including identification of key roles to coordinate the transformation.
  • Engaging and aligning business and technology.
  • Defining and designing Agile products.
  • Aligning organizational size and structure, new team roles, and labor allocation to support Agile at scale within the state’s unique labor environment.
  • Determining delivery approach (SCRUM vs. Lean vs. some other method) that would best work at an agency
  • Defining transformation success and measuring adoption progress
  • Achieving a funding model that can support a product-centric operating model based on Agile principles.
  • Designing an architectural structure and maturation strategy that supports Agile development across diverse tools, software, and infrastructure unique to each partnership.
  • Discussion of ways to phase and/or pilot the transformation and how to scale it.
  • Measuring success and continuous improvement of the operating model.
  • A glossary of Agile terms and concepts.
  • A required and recommended reading list for stakeholders and key roles in the transformation.
  • Document an organizational change management model and approach for Agile transformation at agencies.

Possible Phase 3

Phase 3 is the possible implementation of Phase 2 work at other agencies.  This Phase is not in scope of the original work order.

Key/Lead Resource Experience

MNIT is seeking a vendor who can provide key/lead resource with experience in the following areas: 
  • Experience in a leadership role transforming from project to product operating model within an organization of at least 500 people.
  • Experience as a leader adopting AGILE and DevOps within a large organization.
  • Experience defining product taxonomy, and mapping technologies and people to products for a complex business.
  • Deep understanding and ability to explain to both business and technology leaders the strategic drivers and risks of each stage of the transformation and at high level decisions points throughout the transformation.
  • Ability to sustain transformation efforts through executive-level leadership transitions that are commonplace in executive government.
  • Experience developing, adopting and/or rolling out necessary forms and templates to capture and sufficiently flesh out input/requests/ideas into a product operating model.


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