Managing California’s investments and debt on outdated IT systems was breaking the bank
The California State Treasurer’s Office (STO) oversees and manages the state’s investments — and debt. Their Public Finance Division (PFD) is responsible for nearly $132 billion of it, and they were doing it on software and systems built in 2000 — and the systems weren’t keeping up.
Managing debt of this magnitude requires complex business processes and information technology systems. PFD uses a system called the Debt Management System (DMS). Over the past decade the debt management business has changed with the evolution of law and policy. This has forced PFD staff to do time-intensive, manual work outside of the system on spreadsheets. Overall the DMS had become outdated and was not flexible enough to support the PFD’s business needs or conform to the increasingly complex and constantly evolving regulations governing the STO. As a result, the STO initiated the DMS II project with the aim of replacing legacy DMS with a modern, state-of-the-art debt management system.
Replacing a system of this magnitude, with such critical tasks, was a big concern for the STO Chief Information Officer. A failed project in the public realm comes under the scrutiny of the state legislature and the public. There was a lot at stake.
Infiniti brought in to oversee system replacement, but recommends a different and better path
The Infiniti Internal Verification & Validation (IV&V) team were brought in during the early stages while the requirements were being defined and market research for potential new software packages and system integration vendors was being performed. As part of this process, the STO issued a Request for Information (RFI) to find potential vendors with software products for public sector debt management. Many of the vendors interested in the work were not from the state of California and were not equipped to consult on the uniquely complex requirements of California’s debt management. Infiniti has extensive experience with the implementation of custom systems, as well as the integration of COTS software and ERPs. Based on this experience, Infiniti’s IV&V team became very concerned about the likelihood of success for this project.
Infiniti’s team dug deeper, immersing themselves in the requirements gathering and reviewing RFI responses, as well as learning about STO’s business processes. Infiniti even pulled in a small team of our software engineers and architects to review the existing DMS to understand the functionality supported by the system as well as the technical architecture of the system. This was an eye opening experience in several ways. Infiniti’s engineers reviewed the database design and determined that it was very complex, but also tailored to STO’s unique needs. The team found that in many places the existing software was close to meeting STO’s needs, but because of a few areas where functionality did not support the business, entire components of the system were unusable and staff had stopped using the system altogether. From a technology standpoint our team found that the system was built with an Oracle product suite (Oracle Forms) that was no longer viewed as state of the art. Furthermore, the versions of the software and hardware had fallen considerably behind.
At this point Infiniti’s software architects and engineers determined that the current system could be enhanced to meet STO’s needs. The existing Oracle software could be upgraded, rather than replaced, giving the project a much greater chance of success, with much less risk and lower cost. Plus, it would have a better chance of providing the PFD with exactly the data they needed. Infiniti reached out to Oracle and engaged a specialist from Europe with a global track record of upgrade success.
CIO moves into the future of debt management with the tools they need
California state departments have had many disastrous IT projects over the last decade — running way over budget, years behind schedule, and not delivering results. In some cases, projects have been entirely cancelled. Infiniti continues to build a reputation for delivering successful projects on time and on budget. Infiniti remains involved with reviewing and providing recommendations to ensure that STO gets technologists who are deeply experienced with their technology. Infiniti will remain involved throughout the upgrade, to see that STO gets the right results.
At Infiniti, we take our responsibility in the oversight role very seriously. We’re passionate about helping our clients find the right solution, not just the latest product.