About Colorado Department of Corrections
The Colorado Department of Corrections supervises more than 24,000 inmates and 9,000 parolees. The agency's 6,400 employees work across 28 locations throughout the state.
The Colorado Department of Corrections' IT department leverages technology to bridge the gap between its increased workload and a shrinking workforce. The department knew it could significantly improve productivity if it could find an effective collaboration solution for managing legislative responses and other complex tasks.
The Colorado State Legislature requires the state's Department of Corrections to comment on the impact of proposed legislation on the agency. "We often require input from 50-60 subject matter experts," said Paul Lewin, chief information officer for the Colorado Department of Corrections. "This created an absolute monstrosity of e-mail congestion. It became impossible to effectively track feedback on proposed legislation in this manner."
The agency evaluated several solutions and found Novell Vibe® (formerly Novell Teaming) was the best choice. "We compared several collaboration tools, including Microsoft SharePoint, but found them to be very limited compared to Vibe," said Lewin. "The Novell solution supports strong interaction between people, tracking comments and responses to comments. It's an extremely mature product that's also very affordable."
The agency was able to deploy Vibe in just a few hours. "It was amazingly simple to get Vibe up and running, "said Lewin. "As a test, we created a poll for users to comment on and started tracking it. It worked beautifully."
Users now take advantage of the document management, workflows and task management capabilities in Vibe to manage the department's responses to proposed legislation in a much more efficient manner.
Mobile users can access Vibe via Novell GroupWise®. "Our users spend much of their workday within GroupWise on their BlackBerry devices," said Lewin. "With Vibe, users can comment on a bill from their mobile devices, within the GroupWise interface they're accustomed to, yet they can easily access all relevant communications and associated documents within Vibe. That's the single best feature of the solution. Plus Vibe allows us to create separate e-mail notifications for each discussion topic, making it easier to track legislation."
The agency has virtualized Vibe using Xen on SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server. "We're strong believers in open source," said Lewin. "SUSE Linux Enterprise Server gives us a scalable, stable and cost-effective platform."
Based on the success of the project, the department is expanding its use of Vibe for tracking inmates and other projects. "Vibe is extremely versatile," said Lewin. "If a user comes to us with a problem that's project-based or requires collaboration, Vibe is the solution we recommend. We've realized tremendous productivity gains since deploying the solution."
Vibe enables the department to track complex projects easily and efficiently. "Using Vibe, we can collaborate in a sophisticated manner," said Lewin. "For most users, there's no impact on how they work. That's the power of Vibe. It tracks projects and users' feedback in a beautiful linear fashion."
Vibe empowers employees to work together in a much more collaborative and productive fashion. "Committee members used to have to travel to a meeting each week during the legislative session, and spend hours deciphering a myriad of e-mail communications back and forth between dozens of subject matter experts," said Lewin. "Now they can remain where they are and follow what's happening online. All of the comments and documents are easy to view in one place. It's amazing that such a nightmarish problem we had in e-mail is now managed in such an elegant fashion."
The productivity improvements have been substantial. "We've realized tremendous productivity gains since deploying Vibe," said Lewin. "I used to spend at least 20 percent of my time 'untying knots' related to e-mail. By deploying Vibe, we went from a situation of missing legislation, information gaps and much contention, to an environment that enables us to be totally proactive."
Using Vibe, the agency has also cut maintenance costs significantly. "We used to get many help desk calls with finding missing e-mail threads or recovering lost e-mail," said Lewin. "Since implementing Vibe, those calls have been eliminated. We've cut administrative time by a third and reduced travel costs."
The department now has greater confidence in its ability to respond to legislative issues. "With Vibe, we have a scalable and customizable collaboration solution," said Lewin. "We're now well prepared to handle the complexities of next year's legislative session."