May 2011 Newsletter
In this months Issue:
- I-TOP Health Check Report
- PeopleSoft Enterprise Expansion Update
- Telecom Rate Reduction
- Epsilon Data Breach
- Public Recognition Award
- Mailbox Management
- PM Corner - Adaptability
- Employee Bio - Connie Churchill
I-TOP Health Check Report
by Ruthann Sullivan
As many of you are aware, the State is currently embarked on a process of server and data center consolidation effort. This project is known as the Information and Technology Optimization Project (I-TOP) and its main objective is to make State government more efficient by better and more reliable use of IT resources at considerably less cost than if it were to continue with the current disaggregated arrangement of multiple resources across agencies and departments in numerous data centers. The work will be comprised of consolidating 27 application servers where appropriate, the reduction of approximately 150 physical servers through the use of virtualization, and the assessment of all State data centers with a goal of consolidating into two or three common data centers.
In his recent memo, Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding noted that “the State is already realizing cost savings as legacy servers are redesigned, virtualized or moved and as new systems are designed through the Enterprise Architectural (EA) process."
The following I-TOP projects have been completed:
• Server moves from the 133 State Street Data Center to the National Life Data Center.
• Completion of 6 network assessments in preparation for server virtualization.
• Initial server data collection at 9 Agencies/Departments (this will assist us in identifying which servers will be virtualized first.)
• Completion of the data center assessment and roadmap to improvements.
• Completion of the Vermont State Managed Services (VSMS) Active Directory health check and improvements.
Please select this link for the full text of Secretary Spaulding’s memo: Information Technology Optimization Program (I-TOP)
The following Program dashboard is a snapshot of the I-TOP project that was published in April 2011:
PeopleSoft Enterprise Expansion Update
by Michael Clasen
PeopleSoft Enterprise Expansion Project Now Underway
The Agency of Administration recently kicked off an important project to upgrade the State’s Oracle/PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) and Financials (VISION) systems. HCM is a tool used by the State to manage human resource (benefit, payroll/time and labor) related activity, and VISION serves as the basis for our statewide accounting system. Our current systems for managing employee data and processing payroll are largely manual processes which lack flexibility and pose a risk for consistent, reliable operations. This project will be addressed in stages to most effectively address the abundance of change that we are about to embark upon. Some of you may have had exposure to this project - it has been in the works for nearly five years, as previous attempts at executing this project have faced funding challenges. We have now secured the required funding. Also our implementation team, primarily comprised of staff from the Departments of Human Resources, Finance and Management and Information and Innovation, is in place to ensure a successful implementation.
The primary objective of Stage 1 is to replace the outdated Paradox time and expense capture system by upgrading HCM to the latest version and adding additional necessary functionality. Once implemented, we will all benefit from: 1) more timely and transparent data which will provide better information for managing personal service costs, and 2) a universal organizational structure that affords a common language across the HCM and VISION systems. Human Resource and Financial operations will be more effective, and we will all gain from both leveraging the available technology and overhauling the current business processes.
Following a competitive bid process we have selected CherryRoad Technologies Inc., to work as our implementation partner for Stage 1. CherryRoad staff arrived on site May 9th. We have scheduled 23 months to complete the work associated with Stage 1 and plan to be fully operational by April 2013.
As we embark upon Stage 1 of this project, we have ensured a significant amount of time will be spent to properly evaluate business processes, needs and constraints in order to design a system that will better position the State of Vermont going forward.
Stage 2 of this project, scheduled to commence following the completion of Stage 1, will include upgrading the VISION accounting system to a more current release and implementing the Budget and Planning module.
Telecom Rate Reduction
Attention Business Managers and those who manage phone line counts for Agencies and Departments!
The Telecommunications division of the Department of Information & Innovation will be reducing several key rates on your phone bills starting with the new fiscal year beginning in July. ISDN and Station (phone) Lines will be reduced by $1.50 and Call Answering (voice mail) will be reduced to $2.85.
In addition to the telephone billing detail in the self-service report history, you can also now run reports of active phone lines or long distance authorization codes when you logon to our Telecommunications Work Order & Reporting system. Click on run report, click get, double-click on phone line report or auth code report, enter your employee number, click run report. You can print, email, or export that report as a MS Excel file or Adobe PDF file or select from many other file types. The Excel file type is the most useful, as you can add columns to add your own notes about the list.
You can use this information to discover unused or unneeded telephone lines which will save your agency and department even more dollars each month.
We hope the new Fairpoint Next Generation Voicemail and Call Processing system is meeting all your requirements. Remember, you can access the Centrex voice mail user guide at our web site: http://dii.vermont.gov/DII_Divisions/Customer/Telephone_Services/Voice_Mail
Any questions or concerns, please call Telecommunications at 828-3400, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Epsilon Data Breach - Phishing Alert
by Kris Rowley
Information about the recent Epsilon Breach and how it may impact you
On March 30th, Epsilon, a major e-mail marketing services provider, experienced a security breach that compromised the customer data of some of the businesses that utilize Epsilon for their e-mail marketing needs. The breach affects over 90 high profile companies including but not limited to: drugstore chain Walgreens, electronics chain Best Buy, communications provider Verizon, a number of financial services companies including Capital One, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Barclaycard, hotel chain Marriott, bookseller AbeBooks, sports apparel dealer Lacoste and retail supermarket chain Kroger. You can view the link at the end of this article for an up to date list of companies affected.
Epsilon reports that while customer names and email addresses have been exposed, no sensitive personal data was compromised. In the months ahead, it is anticipated that spammers and cyber criminals will attempt to exploit the trusted relationships customers may have with companies that use Epsilon for their email marketing needs. Affected companies are urging users to be wary of incoming emails that ask for account updates, as they may be phishing scams. There are already websites that have appeared purporting to represent Epsilon that claim to allow people to find out if they have been affected. These are fake sites and are intended to trick individuals into downloading malicious software.
If you conduct business with any of the impacted firms and have provided them with your email address, you should be on the lookout for communication from these businesses providing details and information about this breach of their data. Please note that any correspondence with affected companies should not ask the customer to confirm or provide any information.
What can I do to be safe?
This exposure of emails and customer names may lead to a wave of phishing attacks. Phishing is a vehicle to obtain your personal data, such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information. The scam attempts to entice email recipients into clicking on a link that takes them to a bogus website. This website may then prompt the recipient to provide personal information such as social security number, bank account number or credit card number, and/or it may download malicious software onto the recipient's computer. Both the link and website may appear authentic, however they are not legitimate. Legitimate businesses will never ask for personal or financial information via an email that is sent to you.
While targeted phishing attacks are likely to increase as a result of this breach, it is important that users are always vigilant for phishing attacks and understand how to recognize a phishing attempt and what you can do to protect yourself and minimize the likelihood of getting phished. The tips below will help you stay safe.
How Can I Avoid Becoming a Victim?
* Be cautious about all communications you receive including those purported to be from "trusted entities", and DO NOT click on links contained within those messages
* Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails.
* Do not open any attachments contained in suspicious emails.
* Do not respond to an email requesting personal information or that ask you to “verify your information” or to “confirm your user-id and password”.
* Beware emails that reference any consequences should you not ‘verify your information’.
* Do not enter personal information in a pop-up screen. Providing such information may compromise your identity and increase the odds of identity theft.
* If it appears to be a phishing communication, do not respond. Delete it. You can also forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com.
Resources for More Information:
List of Companies Affected by Epsilon Breach:
FTC’s Identity Theft Website:
Vermont Security Website:
Public Recognition Award
by Ron Petty
The Department of Information and Innovation is very proud to announce that the Enterprise Applications and Servers (EAS) team won a Public Service Recognition Award this year, 2011. The team members - Karen Canas, Howard Cohen, Dan Martin, Dan Morse, Tara Pecor, and Rick Shover - are responsible for supporting multiple departments and agencies. They manage numerous I.T. systems, including email for roughly 5,000 customers, remote access to resources through Citrix, and collaboration, document sharing, and team building through SharePoint.
Over the past couple of years, DII has been involved in an agency-wide I.T. consolidation effort. This team has taken a lead role in that effort and has been able to maintain a high level of service to customers during this transition period. DII would like to recognize their success and dedication to providing outstanding customer service to the employees of the State of Vermont. Way to go, gang!
by Angela Leclerc
Let’s face it – we all use email as part of our jobs. It is one of the ways to communicate with others that we use every day. It’s a great tool. However, just like most tools available to us, it needs to be maintained correctly. Everyone should take time, if not every day, then at least once a week, to clean out old email, email no longer needed, deleted items, sent items, large attachments, etc. This will help Outlook to run smoother, keep your mailbox size down, and keep things running optimally. Below are some best practices and helpful tips to help you manage your mailbox.
Remember, email is a communications tool and should not be used for document management, document storage, or records management.
Mailbox Management and Cleanup Recommendations
The default size of a mailbox within the Enterprise Email system is 300MB. In order to stay within that limit, DII has implemented Symantec’s Enterprise Vault product, which replaces email on Exchange with shortcuts to those items in the vault. This gives the appearance of having more email within your mailbox.
Some items to note about Vault:
* Having Enterprise Vault enabled on your mailbox does not mean that you have an unlimited mailbox size.
* Unread Messages do not get vaulted – in other words, if you are not “opening” emails, and they are marked as unread (in bold), they will not be vaulted and will result in your mailbox becoming full and you will be unable to send/receive messages until it is cleaned up.
For suggestions on how to keep your mailbox size down, please see the following web pages and documentation:
1. Mailbox Cleanup:
2. Mailbox Management:
3. Additional information about Enterprise Vault:
PST Files (Personal Storage Folders)
Users within the Enterprise Email system with Vault enabled mailboxes should not be using PST’s. If they have pre-existing PST’s, they should be used for archival purposes only. Users should not be moving messages to PST’s at all. They should follow the instructions above on Mailbox Cleanup.
If PST files are needed, please note that PST files should be managed in compliance with Microsoft best practices and recommendations. To reduce the likelihood of errors, please refer to the following articles related to PST file management:
* PST files should not be accessed over the network:
Symptoms of this not being followed could be anywhere from PST file corruption to conflicts between the different profiles accessing the one PST file. Microsoft does not support opening .pst files over a network share.
* PST file size restrictions:
Symptoms of this not being followed may be that Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 momentarily stops responding during a typical operation. Typical operations can include reading e-mail messages, moving e-mail messages, or deleting e-mail messages. These symptoms are most noticeable during mail delivery or during synchronization and become more pronounced as store size increases. They are more likely to occur when the size of the PST file approaches 2 gigabytes (GB).
If these are followed regularly, you shouldn’t have any problems with your mailbox.
by Christine Hetzel
Adaptability – Is my attitude really that important to project success?
The one thing that we can count on is change! As a project manager in State government, I am consistently amazed at the amount of change that surrounds me. In observing my family, friends and colleagues, the speed of life and business continues to accelerate for each of us. Will it ever slow down or become a little more manageable? My guess is, probably not. We live and work in a culture of change.
In previous PM Corner articles, we’ve spent some time walking through the Adaptive Project Management Framework (APF); one agile project management approach. As I’ve written (and worked) in the APF methodology, one concept seems to really stick in my mind. ADAPTABILITY. The definition of the word adaptability is the ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances. Hmmmm…
As I reflect on my work and home life, I am continually challenged to leverage the skill of adaptability. Changing circumstances are all around me (and you). Many of my colleagues that work in project management functions are successful based upon their ability to embrace structure and to remain focused on the end goal while variability swirls around them. It reminds me of the expression…a dog with a bone! I am no exception. I love process but sometimes become frustrated that those around me may not want to embrace process. Or, that the environment I am working in cannot embrace process at the level that I think it should. Sound familiar? How does this frustration fit within the culture of change that we live and work in?
As we challenge ourselves to become more adaptable to our environment, while still striving toward project management best practices, I believe we are able to find some common ground with our resources, managers and sponsors. It’s not an issue of giving up on what we believe to be the “right” way to do something; it’s more about providing the greatest level of value, in that moment. How can I help to move my organization one step closer to its goals?
I can have plans, we all need to have plans, but those plans need to adapt to the demands of the moment while moving toward the end goal. In order for me to minimize frustration and maintain a positive attitude, I need to remind myself daily to embrace sudden requests and unforeseen detours or changes. My expectation for and attitude toward these requests and detours may in fact be the best support I can provide to the project team in that moment. Can I dare say that my attitude may be just as important as “the plan” itself?
In the end, a well thought out and well documented plan that no one wants to embrace, or that is unrealistic, provides much less value than leadership supporting a project team in a dynamic and changing environment toward a value based end goal.
In closing, listed below are a few questions that I ask myself in the midst of a detour or change, to help me manage that change. I challenge you to identify a particular change that you are embracing in a project, and walk yourself through these questions.
* How can this detour/change improve the end value this project hopes to deliver?
* What steps can I take to manage my personal frustration about this change and minimize the impact to the team?
* Are my team members frustrated about this change? How can I encourage them to discover some of the potential benefits and re-motivate them to continue to move forward?
* What value can I bring to this change?
* Does the sponsor understand how this change will affect the project in terms of scope, resources or time? Specifically, how can I communicate these affects realistically and accurately with an attitude that embraces change?
Running water never grows stale. - Bruce Lee
Employee Bio - Connie Churchill
by Peter Jaquith
DII has many individuals who work behind the scenes and are really the lifeblood that keeps various aspects of our operation here flowing smoothly. One such individual is Connie Churchill in the AOA Financial Services division. Every DII employee is impacted, on a daily basis, by the work that Connie performs for our department.
As just mentioned, Connie works in the AOA Financial Services division as a Financial Specialist. She has worked in this capacity since 1999 when she came onboard with the State that year as an accountant for BGS, within CIT. CIT soon transitioned into the Department of Information and Innovation and Connie too transitioned to fill the position of accountant in DII’s accounting office. Connie has not looked back and will have been with the State 12 years in May.
Connie’s work is vital in keeping the finances flowing accurately in DII. She is deeply involved in many aspects of the purchasing process, from issuing purchase orders to vendors, understanding the purchasing contracts, processing purchasing card transactions for employees, as well as working closely with the Vision financial and asset management systems. I can speak personally from experience and say the Connie has been a great asset to me when working with a new vendor on purchases. I may get some questions about the PO’s that are not clear to me. I need only put the vendor in touch with Connie who quite competently straightens everything out so the purchasing transaction moves forward smoothly. Connie has a witty side too. She is a member of the DII Communication team who publishes this newsletter each month. She is always quick to add some fun and humor in our meetings and always quick to help when needed.
Connie received her accounting training from Community College of Vermont. She currently resides in Tunbridge (yes, home of the “Tunbridge World’s Fair”) with husband Steve and stepchildren Stephany (19), Michael (11), Nicholas (8) and Dylan (5). She also has three older children, James, Christopher and Jessica who are all in their 20’s.
She says she has always been a hard worker to provide for her family, raising her children and working at her job for the State. She thus find enjoyment in life’s simple pleasures, which may involve spending time with her Pomeranian, Foxy (see pic), doing jigsaw puzzles or tubing down a river in the summer months.
In her free time Connie may kick-back with some music from the 50’s and 60’s or watch an old Abbot and Costello movie. Ahhhh! That must be where her witty side comes from! One Halloween Connie chose to entertain us all by showing up dressed as a banana. She thus became “top banana” for the day! Ok…. she was the only banana that day. But, she gave those of us here a laugh, just the same.
Connie, you are truly a key player to keeping the financial transactions at DII on track. We all rely on you to do our jobs daily and to keep the lifeblood flowing. Thanks so much for all number crunching and attention to detail in the things you do for ALL of us!