Herding Cats! GIS Coordination Efforts in an Enterprise System
Encouraging Project Reporting
Over the last several years, many attempts have been made to encourage project reporting. Project reporting forms were available from the beginning on the agency intranet and on each server along with a policy that required staff to report GIS activities.
A few people thought this was unfair and did not follow the directive for that reason. Others had trouble deciding which projects to report. They assumed everything they did was insignificant and did not need to be reported. Most users have good intentions but just never get around to completing the paperwork.
A steering committee has existed since the agency-wide GIS began at AGFC. The GIS steering committee includes staff members representing all divisions, all geographic regions of the state, and users at all levels. Although members have come and gone over the years, the group's mission has remained the same. The group meets approximately four times a year to assist the GIS coordinator in setting priorities, discussing problems, and identifying solutions. Over the past year, without coercion by the coordinator, the committee identified the lack of project reporting as one of the program's most critical issues.
The committee's realization of the value of project reporting was a huge breakthrough. A problem cannot be fixed until its existence is acknowledged. The committee saw the problem, understood why it was a problem, and was ready to look for solutions.
The GIS steering committee and the GIS staff met to discuss possible solutions to the problem. They agreed that very few users purposely fail to report projects. The agency has a policy that requires users to report projects, a user-friendly form is available to users, and users are educated during training sessions about the importance of reporting and coordinating projects. Yet, most still failed to report any GIS work that was being completed.
The committee concluded that incorporating some type of script that initiates upon activation of the software was the only way to ensure reporting. The script should be installed on all computers that have GIS software. Ideally, the script would force the users to supply some minimal level of information before being allowed access to the program. The committee unanimously agreed that this was the best strategy.
An investigation for the appropriate solution began. After an exhaustive search for an off-the-shelf product that would deliver the desired results, the group concluded that it would be best to build a custom application. The committee created a conceptual design and identified the necessary fields. The program should capture most metadata, operate transparently to users, and require minimal user interaction.
Most AGFC users simply do not realize the importance of tracking the development of GIS projects and data. Even members of the GIS staff and the GIS steering committee have, at one time or another, complained about how project reporting would add extra work to already heavy workloads. However, over time they have come to understand the value and importance of project tracking within the enterprise system.
It is hoped that this project tracking system, along with continued user education, will alleviate most of AGFC's project tracking issues. Creating the project tracking program required programming skills beyond those of AGFC's current staff so its development was outsourced to the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology (CAST) in Wakefield, Massachusetts.
The author appreciates all the assistance received from a fantastic GIS staff, supportive senior management, and GIS steering committee members who took the time to learn about this technology and have been instrumental in the development of the AGFC GIS program. For more information, contact
Tracy Jenee' Moy
Chief of the GIS Division
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205
About the Author
|Tracy Jenee' Moy|
Tracy Jenee' Moy, chief of the GIS Division for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, came to the agency as the GIS coordinator in 1998 and served for several years in parallel capacity as assistant chief of information technology. In 2004, she was appointed to the State Land Information Board. Moy received a bachelor's degree in environmental health science from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. In 2000, she received an Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award. She enjoys teaching others about GIS.