The Forest Service has an extensive information technology infrastructure to support its day-to-day operations. The organization is highly dispersed with a workforce of 40,000+ and work is accomplished through 900 field offices located all across North America. These offices are interconnected with a dedicated computer network and telecommunications network, standard computer desktop systems for employees, “virtual” workflow, and groupware applications to facilitate work functions and large scale database repositories that contain the information of the agency. The CIO organization is responsible for oversight and management of this technology infrastructure and does so, in part, through the execution of targeted projects. In this case, three critical projects required technical documentation and communications support. These projects are the Government Enterprise Messaging Services (“gEMS”), PC Deployment, and Radio Modernization.
The Forest Service is migrating its messaging systems and services (email, portal, chat, web meeting, mobile computing and business technology collaboration) from an internal Lotus Notes and Domino environment to a Microsoft cloud-based application suite. The major challenges facing the project team were related to (1) technology deployment and transition from Notes to Exchange, (2) effective communications and change management with a geographically disperse workforce, (3) training in the new application suite, and (4) implementing the new messaging services while a large portion of the workforce is focused on mission-critical support for Fire season.
Octo Consulting Group was brought in to provide program management and strategic communications management support to these initatives.
Bringing to bear true subject matter experts in the Forest Service domain, cloud, and strategic communications areas, Octo has partnered with Forest Service and USDA leadership to attack both strategic and tactical maturation of the program, processes, and personnel. Octo is engaging stakeholders at every level of the Forest Service (and USDA) including program managers, product managers, project managers, customer service representatives, budget personnel, technical leads, support contractors, contracting officials, and Joint Interagency mission partners.