When was the last time you changed your Apple ID password?

Although Apple will not substantiate claims that the Turkish Crime Family has the usernames and passwords of hundreds of millions iCloud and Apple email accounts, your Apple ID password should be changed as soon as possible, and certainly should be c…

BIT Development’s Lean Initiative

 In 2016, BIT Development was tasked with learning and implementing lean methodologies. So, what is “lean”? Simply put, it is the pursuit of continuous improvement for any process to maximize value and minimize waste. The result improves the quality of products and services, which benefits the customer (agency).

The basic principles of lean are:

  • Focus on effectively delivering value to your customer
  • Respect and engage people
  • Improve the value stream by eliminating all types of waste
  • Maintain flow
  • Pull through the system
  • Strive for perfection

A few months ago, BIT Development was involved in their first LEAN process improvement event. The process that was picked was the Initial Estimate phase for Development’s Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) . Not only were teams from BIT Development involved, the Department of Revenue was asked to participate so the group could get the “agency perspective” on initial estimates for IT Development work requests. While process improvement may seem like an easy thing to do, it involves a lot of pre- and post- work along with the intense work that happens during the event.

The pre-work involved in a process improvement event includes:

  • meeting with the event contributors,
  • creating the charter and defining scope, 
  • obtaining a collaboration area for the duration of the event, and 
  • making sure all the necessary supplies have been gathered.

The contributors gathered input from other members of their perspective teams on the Initial Estimate process. What was discovered during that first day of work was that everyone does it differently – even within teams.

The work for the event was an intense three-day “stuck-in-a-room-and-can’t-leave” hashing out of what goes on in everyone’s Initial Estimate process. Ally Shepardson, a collaborator from Daktronics, was the event facilitator. Naturally, not all participants were looking forward to spending three days in a room.

“Participating in the LEAN event with Ally was surprising to me. Going into the event, I did not feel especially zealous about Initial Estimates. By the end of it, however, I was truly committed to what we were trying to accomplish. I felt rewarded from our hard work and dedicated to seeing this project succeed. I was inspired by the passion of everyone in that room to improve not only Initial Estimates, but BIT in general. Working with others helped me understand why continual improvement is so important and gave me a glimpse of what BIT could become, if we work together to accomplish our goals.” – Elise Bunkers, Development Team 6

The event is designed to finish as many deliverables as possible in the space of three days, but the work didn’t stop after the event was over. Everyone had tasks to accomplish: creating a new diagram for the Initial Estimate process, creating a template for the division to use when they meet with the agency, getting a new list of requirements that were needed for IT Priorities and the work order tracking system (WoTS) so that metrics could be tracked and finally creating the training for the Initial Estimate process.

Working intensely on improving the Initial Estimate provided other benefits beyond improving a process. Team members had the opportunity to get to know each other better and now they feel more comfortable reaching out to people outside their own teams.

“Participating in the Initial Estimate LEAN event was a rewarding experience. Watching the collaborative effort put forth by all team members to improve the estimate process was exciting. As ideas were exchanged, new and improved processes were identified and even the participating client from an agency could attest to how the changes would improve their planning and forecasting. Additionally, as a fairly new employee to BIT, the LEAN Initial Estimate event allowed me to interact with other BIT employees not a part of my current team. I have been able to continue these relationships and ask for their assistance when I have needed their expertise in my current position.” – Heidi Brosz, Development Team 4

Below: Working through what everyone does for the Initial Estimate

(Note: the blue box represents the original process – the green is what the process looks like after being redesigned by the team)

Rick Love Has Left The Building!

Rick Love first came to BIT in 2000 as a Systems Programmer working on the AS/400 platform for Wayne Lauck in the BIT Data Center and left BIT in the fall of 2003 to try his luck as a Vegas AS/400 programmer and part-time blackjack dealer. Apparently life in South Dakota was better than in Vegas or on the other side of the black-jack table because he elected to return to BIT in the summer of 2006 as an Associate Systems Programmer working for Wayne Hayden-Moreland.

While working in Operations, Rick was lucky enough to be involved in such activities as an emergency migration from an old microfiche printer to the newer model – which culminated with an ugly 1 ½ day slough through the world of troubleshooting electro-mechanical-chemical-printing. Enlivened by his success in the world of film-based printing, Rick was keen to expand his skills in the printing area. He next “volunteered” to be involved with the replacement of two 6262 impact printers with newer IP6500 impact printers in the Aberdeen Print Center. This project made it possible for BIT to continue to provide DLR their needed print support. Rick was also fortunate to have had the opportunity during this period in his career to work on a couple of interesting contracts including one for a new burster and another for a fire suppression vendor.

In 2012, Rick decided to see how things worked on the other side of the fence. He started working with Tony Rae on such processes as E-discovery under Mimosa, RAD, OWA, and Active Sync where he played a major part in setting up and documenting all of these systems and their processes. It was also during this timeframe that Rick had the less than pleasant task of contacting all our email users with the largest accounts to give them suggestions on how to reduce their mailbox size. Many of the users didn’t know that their mailbox was as large as it was and appreciated the self-help guidance Rick provided. But not everyone agreed that space management was really an end-user role. As a result of this less than wonderful task, and he used his work ethic to complete the job on time and ahead of schedule even with a lack of email administration experience. His work ethic was one of the hall marks of Rick’s career.

In 2013, Rick was reunited with AS/400 administration returning to the position that he had left ten years earlier reporting to Scott Kromarek. While in this role, Rick has used his extensive knowledge of the AS/400 operating system to complete multiple upgrades and migrations and train a handful of other employees in the area of AS/400 administration. Rick’s new duties under Scott also included the UNIX platform as an administrator on the three AIX systems that BIT currently supports. Not content to stick with just two platforms, Rick also took on duties in the Windows world as an administrator for both TSM (a backup product) and Control-M (the distributed scheduler system). He was involved in the implementation of Control-M as well as its daily use at BIT including multiple upgrades to both products.

Rick has always been someone who saw the clear value in sharing his skills and knowledge with others and even kicked it up a notch or three over the past couple of years as he trained his successors in preparation for his retirement.

In the past year, Rick played an instrumental part in the server role swap of the Lottery AS/400 system, proving the viability of the high-availability features of the system configuration. True to his “can-do” attitude even in his last few months with BIT, Rick took on new products. For example, he implemented IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) to allow BIT to license IBM’s Windows products at a virtual level rather than a physical one. Also, because of his experience with InfoPrint, JetForms, and Revenue title printing, he was involved in the selection and installation of a product called, Print Manager which now bills for Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) forms. During his final month with BIT, Rick continued to provide valuable insight during the DOC COMS upgrade. And to cap it all off, Rick elected to complete his SANS online security training one more time even though the due date of the training was AFTER his planned retirement date.

Not a lot is known about the private life of James “Rick” Love, so a few tidbits of information was gleaned from his Facebook page. It turns out that Rick’s hometown is Iowa Falls, Iowa. He graduated from Washington High School in 1968 and from Southeast Tech in 1989. Rick has a brother named Bart and sister named Joy. More widely known is that Rick worked at Gateway for a while before coming to BIT. He enjoys fishing year-round, has frequently forayed into hunting (at least coyotes and turkeys), and is a generous supporter of the American Red Cross.

Whether Rick spends more time on the hobbies already listed or decides to try his hand at new ones, we wish him the best of luck and good health as he begins the stage of his life where he can list his occupation as “retired”.

Thank you, Rick, for having been such a valuable and positive team member for all of us at BIT. We wish you all the best. You will be missed.

The Cursed Know No Rest By Roger Reed

Long-time BIT employee, Roger Reed, has recently published his third book, The Cursed Know No Rest, with The title for the book comes from the first story which is about the first sheriff of Granite City. The sheriff is an outlaw who took over the town before being cursed by a local Native American. The sheriff is now a zombie and cannot truly die until he redeems himself. As with the other two books, this is a collection of superhero stories. 

Roger enjoys thinking up and writing these stories and plans to continue doing so until he runs out of ideas. He keeps a notepad nearby for when inspiration strikes him. He jots down whatever story ideas, characters, and super power ideas that pop into his head. If one or more really captures his attention, he works them into a story. Normally he has no problem working ideas into stories, but sometimes it isn’t so easy. The first story he started on for his first book had a great initial situation with a heroine being kidnapped by a villain who was out for revenge, but then he couldn’t come up with how to proceed or what the villain actually does to the heroine. It took him a year and a half to come up with the idea of how to finish that story off.

While he tries to make all of the characters interesting, many times he has more fun writing about the villains than the heroes. He tries to make all of the characters stand out from each other, particularly the villains. Some are people who glory in the destruction they cause, others are out to kill people and superheroes, still others are on a mission, while some do what they want regardless of what people say about them. They are more fun to write about since they have fewer restrictions on what they do than the heroes who are limited by the laws of that version of America.

In addition to making the characters stand out from each other, he makes each story different from the others. While some are the normal action-packed hero vs. villain stories, others are more about people put into difficult situations and the people just happen to have super powers. For instance, the story that took 18 months to write is mostly about the heroine’s family coping with her loss and moving on. Book 2 had a story about a little girl who was fighting cancer. In a story he currently is working on for book 4, the main characters are teenaged superheroes who get caught up in a cult. That story has very little action in it and is more about how the characters deal with their situation along with the family dynamics involved.

In addition to superheroes, some of his stories feature wizards and other supernatural characters such as vampires and werewolves. He hasn’t written about aliens, elves, and dwarves, but he hasn’t ruled out incorporating them into his literary universe at a future date.

Roger plans to have a book signing down at Prairie Pages later this spring when the weather is more dependable.

Employees of the Quarter!

Brent Dowling

Brent currently serves as the Technology Architect for the Data Center Integration team. Brent has been working for the State since June of 1996, starting with Computer Support Services servicing Windows desktops. After two years of desktop support, Brent became one of the charter members of the BIT Integration Team along with Pat Snow and David Smith. After working for several years as a team member of the Integration Team, Brent became the manager of the Integration team in 2004. In 2012 when the Technology Engineer banding was put in place, Brent was able to benefit from the new options that opened up and chose to accept the job role of a TE5, otherwise known as an Architect role. (Not to be confused with the same role in the movie series, The Matrix. J)

Over the years, Brent has become known for his flexibility and tenacity when it comes to understanding/implementing new technologies and solving problems with those technologies. Brent seems to thrive on a good challenge, coming up with ideas and solutions under tight time-lines. One of Brent’s most recent endeavors along these lines was to help research, choose and implement a multifactor authentication software to satisfy IRS (and other federal agencies) requirements. The timeframe from start of the multifactor project to implementation has been on a very aggressive schedule.

Other accomplishments of note are:

  • Pioneer of the K12 Data Center
  •  Primary designer of BIT’s Storage/Backup/Compute infrastructure for the last 10 years.
  • Overhaul/Redesign of the State’s email system 
  • One of BIT’s major business negotiators

Brent grew up near Draper, SD on his father’s ranch and farm. He attended high school at Jones County in Murdo. He attended Dakota State University on a track scholarship and obtained a BS in computer science in May of 1996. In fact, if you care to look, Brent is still listed in the track and field records book at DSU.

Brent currently lives in Pierre with his wife, Donna. Brent and Donna have two children, Courtney and Justin. In addition to his duties at BIT, Brent is also part-time farmer. He partners with his father and brother in the farming operation.

Dallas Thompson 

Dallas Thompson serves as a Technology Engineer III for the Division of Telecommunications within the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications. Dallas began his journey with state government in March of 1994.

Dallas’ primary focus as a Technology Engineer III consists of dealing with technology in schools, network operations, networking, and telecommunication circuits. During the summer of 2016, Dallas was the project manager for the network upgrades. The upgrades came as part of the Communications Transport RFP which included connecting more than 800 sites to the DDN.

With Dallas’s guidance, 400+ circuit orders were completed going from a price change to a bandwidth upgrade. Upgrades for State Government and K12 schools were completed from June – October. The Network Team performed 416 total equipment upgrades and bandwidth upgrades across 242 physical sites and traveled 26,861 total miles.

Dallas is easy to work with, remains flexible with his workload and schedule, and is always willing to help, making him a perfect candidate for the employee of the quarter award.

Outside of work, Dallas enjoys fishing, hunting, camping, and woodworking. He also enjoys spending time with his five grandchildren.

Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer has made Development’s goals of measured improvement possible. His initial work on the Work Tracking System WoTS project, his creation of a data warehouse during the second release, and his leadership in the integrations and data quality work with the Develop Managers has been absolutely pivotal to pushing the division through the uncertainty to a point where it can begin ACTUALLY improving.

He has done all this work on top of attempting to make the architecture review process meaningful. This has required him to lead difficult conversations with management and staff who, honestly, would rather the process just be another paper dragon – meaningless in real life. Rather than alienate people, Jeff has taken it upon himself to engage even his most onerous competitors on their grounds rather than simply call them “wrong”.

Jeff has taken a great deal of risk, and has delivered in spades during difficult and chaotic times. His continued support and drive will be pivotal to our own continued gains.

Martie Stulken Celebrates 40 Years Of Dedicated Service To BIT And The Citizens Of South Dakota!

Martie started as a seasonal employee with DOT in May 1976 while attending college at South Dakota State University where she majored in Spanish and minored in Music and History. In June of 1979, she moved to Pierre to work as a programmer for the Department of Social Services System Development team.

When she married the love of her life, Dean, on July 26, 1980, she also gained two sons. Dean and Martie added another son, Matthew, in 1994.

During the I/T consolidation in 1996, Martie was moved to BIT’s Development Team 4. In her 40 years with the State, Martie has been under seven different managers and has had the pleasure of working on every floor in the Kneip Building.

To name a few, Martie has been a leader on the following projects:

  • Cobol Versioning 
  • Natural Upgrades 
  • Disaster Recoveries Natural Engineer 
  • HIX 
  • Deloitte 
  • DSS Payrolls 
  • Direct Deposit 
  • Broker / Connect Direct

Martie is not only good at her job, but passionate about it, too! Her leadership, dedication, and her ability to always be there when you need her makes Martie such a valuable asset to BIT. Although 40 years in itself is quite the accomplishment, we are hoping she will stay with us until the 50 year mark and set a record J.

In her free time, Martie enjoys music, her dogs, and attending her grandchildren’s activities.

Thank you for your years of service, Martie! BIT is so fortunate to have you!

South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Montage Masterfully Depicts SoDak Living

The folks at South Dakota Public Broadcasting have put together a montage to showcase the State of South Dakota and its many diverse attractions and activities. From the Buffalo Round-Up at Custer State Park to the Sturgis Rally, South Dakota has much …

SDPB Receives A.H. Pankow Award!

Lieutenant Governor Matt Michaels and the South Dakota Department of Tourism presented awards to top tourism industry leaders at the 2017 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Pierre.

The A. H. Pankow Award, which honors a media outlet or individual member of the media for unparalleled coverage and promotion of the state’s visitor industry, was awarded to South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The organization has continuously produced programming that has focused on the unique beauty and culture of South Dakota including shows like “Soaring South Dakota” and “Dakota Savor”, a new program that looks at South Dakota’s food, wine and brew offerings.

“We are thankful for South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s passion and continuous promotion of our state’s history, arts, destinations and way of life,” stated the Lt. Governor.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.