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IT Project Reports on Life After IBM

The State of North Carolina's ambitious attempt to overhaul its schools' IT infrastructure is well on track, just a few months after it ended an $80 million contract with IBM and brought the project back in-house.

Officials, however, say that they have learned from past mistakes as they prepare to roll out the next phase of the $204 million North Carolina Window of Information on Student Education (NC WISE) project.

The state, for example, has had to seriously rethink its approach to project management. Since the departure of IBM, officials have had to deal with five separate vendors supplying pieces of NC WISE.

Tellingly, North Carolina raided the private sector to find the vendor management skills it needed, recently appointing former Northrup Grumman exec John Wetsch as NC WISE program manager. "I am used to working with multiple vendors -- it gives you a lot more flexibility," Wetsch told Byte and Switch, adding that he has already appointed "contract chiefs" to deal with vendors and ensure that performance levels are met.

Officials say they are also getting closer to their end-users. "I think we're taking much more of the individual Local Education Authority (LEA) requirements into consideration,"explains Mike Veckenstedt, CTO of the state's Department of Public Instruction (DPI). "Before, it was very much, 'Here is the [deployment] schedule, take it or leave it.' "

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