About Texas General Land Office
The Texas General Land Office is an agency with a diverse mission that includes a myriad of programs, including the Texas Veteran's Land Board, state oil spill response, coastal resource protection and more. As the manager of oil and gas exploration and production on the state’s 20 million acre Permanent School Fund, the Texas General Land Office brings in nearly one billion dollars in public school revenue a year.
With employees spread out throughout the state, the agency needed a way for users to work together in a much more efficient fashion. “We’re operating in a radically diverse business climate,” said Steve Fouchek, director of Network Services for the Texas General Land Office. “To operate at peak performance, we need to make it easy for users to share information and collaboratively manage tasks so that we can effectively track the status of projects. This meant getting projects out of email.”
In addition, the agency was subject to regular audits that consumed a good deal of employee time. “Our agency has a significant impact on the largest bond funds in the state, so we’re audited frequently to ensure compliance with grant programs, mineral rights management and other regulations.” said Stephen Paxman, deputy commissioner of Information Systems for the Texas General Land Office. “Gathering information to prepare for these audits diverted attention from our core responsibilities.”
The agency evaluated several solutions and selected Novell Vibe® (formerly Novell Teaming). “Vibe had the most robust feature set and attractive price point,” said Paxman. “Having integrated team calendars, workspaces, task management, document management, wikis and blogs is extremely beneficial.”
The agency had Vibe up and running in a matter of days, and quickly realized its value for improving both user productivity and streamlining administrative tasks. “Vibe gives us a great opportunity to achieve standardization,” said Cory Wilburn, assistant director of Business Automation Services for the Texas General Land Office. “Using wikis in Vibe, we’ve documented standard policies, such as configuring new servers. There’s no longer a need to ‘reinvent the wheel’. We get work done right the first time, every time.”
Initially, the agency deployed Vibe to its Network Services and Agency Land Project (ALPS) teams. “Based on the immense value these teams realized, we quickly deployed it to the entire organization,” said Paxman. “Vibe has already improved decision making processes and helped prevent costly mistakes. As an example, we’re simultaneously redeveloping five major systems as part of our ALPS project. This entails many moving parts. The size of our staff is probably adequate for only two projects but amazingly, the ALPS project has been going on for more than a year and it’s on track and on budget. We use tools like Vibe to make that happen.”
The solution has also proven invaluable during regular audits. “We’ve gone through two audits since deploying Vibe,” said Paxman. “The first thing we did was give the auditor access to a Vibe workspace that had everything they needed. It went beautifully. The auditors had almost no questions, and were very complimentary of our approach. That’s pretty amazing!”
The agency also has nearly 40 servers running Novell Open Enterprise Server on Linux, and is taking advantage of features, such as iPrint, NSS and Novell Cluster Services™. To manage its 640 workstations, the agency uses Novell ZENworks®, which provides centralized application deployment, patch management, imaging and remote control functionality.
Despite recent mandates to cut their budget by 5 percent, the Texas General Land Office continually adds value for its constituents across the state. “Slashing our budget in just 30 days was a real challenge,” said Paxman. “We try to get every ounce of value from the dollars we spend. Using Novell products, we’re able to deliver more services to citizens, without incurring additional cost to the state.”
Vibe tracks entire project lifecycles, including discussions, decision making, task management, documentation and more. “If someone wants to change credit card business rules, for example, we need to demonstrate to auditors how those decisions were made,” said Michael Ashton-Moore, systems administrator for Texas General Land Office. “With Vibe, you can see the entire discussion, including its resolution. And being able to keep everyone informed about when a task was completed or how far along it is really comes in handy. That’s worth its weight in gold.”
Vibe has enabled the agency to accomplish goals it could not have done otherwise. “We use every technique and tool we can to make users as efficient as possible,” said Paxman. “With Vibe, we’re able to achieve a lot more with a lot less.”