System Modernization

March 2017

Introducing a new best practice guide for large-scale information technology projects

For most motor vehicle departments, upgrading information technology (IT) systems is not an easy task. It often involves large structural changes that require careful management to stay on schedule and on budget. AAMVA has seen large-scale IT projects across North America succeed and fail, and those experiences inspired the creation of a System Modernization Working Group.

The AAMVA working group is preparing to release a System Modernization Best Practice guide, which aims to help jurisdictions succeed with large-scale IT projects.

“Our intent is to provide a roadmap,” says Rose Jarois, director of Department Services Administration for the Michigan Department of State and a working group member. “For each topic, working group members contributed knowledge and provided specific examples. We’re not trying to give everyone a prescribed way of doing things,” she says.

The decision to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach was based on the experiences of the working group members. “The reason the team gelled so well is we had people who had failures and successes,” Jarois says. “We pulled together what worked and what didn’t from many sources. That’s what makes this a great document.”

The System Modernization Best Practice guide includes chapters on many project management topics, including system architecture, requirements and methodology, security, data cleansing and migration, procurement, and business case development, among others.

“One area that jurisdictions agree they can’t spend too much time on is organizational change management,” says Sheila Prior, AAMVA’s director of member support for Regions III and IV and staff liaison to the working group. “System modernization projects have a significant impact on an organization, and the reality is that people don’t like change. The best practice guide helps identify how to handle change management, communication plans, training, support and more to ensure a project’s success.”

The lessons from the System Modernization Best Practice guide go beyond system upgrades. “The [guide] brings together expertise from maybe a dozen jurisdictions,” Prior says, “and can be used for any big IT project.”