The Department of Veterans Affairs is at the forefront in embracing mobile solutions in support of the agency’s mission to provide healthcare, financial assistance and other benefits for veterans.
Federal Technology Insider recently interviewed Mr. Charles De Sanno, Executive Director, Systems Engineering at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the first part of our series, Mr. De Sanno provided candid insights into the agency’s mobility efforts and offered other agencies a set of tried and tested best practices. In this second part, we look deeper at implementing a mobile strategy in this new frontier.
Federal Technology Insider: What are your suggested best practices when implementing a mobile strategy?
De Sanno: The first priority is getting the right policies in place and ensuring that the utilization and administration of these devices is clearly documented. These policies are ideal for laying out the groundwork, and you need to have the appropriate infrastructure in place to actually manage this.
While it is very easy to develop and publish mobile apps, there needs to be an effective process for doing this properly.
In addition, I would recommend not purchasing mobile devices piecemeal, and it’s best to have innovative contracts in place that help with acquiring devices in bulk.
From there, you should develop a roadmap of the approved apps for the devices, and this needs to be done for the right reason: meeting mission goals while also being cost-effective. Many organizations adopt mobility policies, but do not have any approved apps running on the devices. If users are only using mobile devices for accessing email, then the entire program is a failure.
The last thing is to respect the device. Thanks to mobility, you are enabling users to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. The device can also be misused and can act as a security threat for the entire organization.
Federal Technology Insider: Do you see mobility as being a key way to save money? If so, why?
De Sanno: Absolutely. At the VA, we have programs and apps that help us better interact with patients, cutting down on patient transportation time and efforts. Thanks to our mobility programs, we are able to educate and better treat patients. For example, we deployed iPads to family caregivers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with our “Clinic-in-Hand” program. The suite of apps was designed to improve care and provide tips for veterans and their caregivers.
In addition, traditional desktop computing is more costly where replacement, maintenance and software licensing costs can be very high. New mobile devices are in many ways more powerful, easier to use and allow all users to have the actionable data they need to be effective right at their fingertips.
Federal Technology Insider: Tell us about how to effectively implement a sound BYOD strategy.
De Sanno: The foundation for an effective BYOD strategy again comes down to the right policies and procedures – and security should always be a consideration. The reality is that BYOD can save agencies a tremendous amount of money while also empowering their employees. In addition, most people already use multiple devices and the power of mobile computing keeps expanding. It makes sense to fully embrace this frontier and provide all the tools that users need to more effectively serve the mission.
Be sure to stay tuned for part three of this interview where Mr. De Sanno discusses the future of ubiquitous computing and government.