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Strategy at UC

Posted by asokol-esristaff Employee Jun 30, 2018

One of my favorite things to talk to customers who come to UC about is their strategy, figuring out how they approach GIS in their organization. UC is a great time to learn about new technology, new patterns, new ways to make an impact on your organization, but it's easy to get lost in a sea of ideas and information. How do you decide where to start? What's the priority next step? Why is it the priority? What does success look like? How will you get other members of your organization excited about changes that might be coming? 


If this is something you want to discuss further at UC, there are many great resources. One great place to start is the Implementing ArcGIS area in the expo. You can sign up for activities related to strategy and planning, talk to experts, and ask questions. If you're not sure what all this means, go to a session that is focused on strategy and planning methodology. 


UC is a great time to think about what's next, and how to maximize business impact with GIS. 

I just returned from a trip to Tucson Water where I helped Terri Bunting (GIS Supervisor) and Lorena Baltierrez (QA/QC Lead) implement ArcGIS Data Reviewer as part of their daily editing and quality control workflows.  This was probably one of the most successful business trips I've made during my 25+ years at Esri.


It all started out with a quick Data Health Check that I conducted on their water utility data a couple of years ago at the Esri UC. I used the ArcGIS Data Reviewer extension to configure several data checks and validated their water data.  As with most utility users whose data is in geometric network, I found the typical errors: duplicate features, disconnected lines and points, and required fields not being populated. These type of data issues affect any network tracing results and the connection back to any 3rd party applications, like an asset management system.


After completing the data health check, Terri and Lorena were excited to take the recommendations I provided and implement Data Reviewer when they got back to the office. Their feedback regarding the session was, “This is a great addition to the user conference, thank you!”


After a couple of false starts due to existing staff workloads and not having extra time to ramp up and implement Data Reviewer, this year they looked into doing a 3-day Data Reviewer jumpstart workshop. How lucky was I that I got assigned to do this jumpstart with them?! Terri and Lorena were very excited too!


While onsite, I helped them configure the quality control checks that were appropriate for their data. One of the main goals for their GIS system is to be able to perform valve isolation tracing on their water utility data by the end of the year.  To achieve this goal, we prioritized the data checks that focused on feature connectivity.


What helped me most during this whole process was how well organized and prepared they were by providing a data editing guidelines document.  We went through the specifications to identify checks that needed to be created.  By doing so, we also found areas where their editing guidelines needed to be updated.  Besides doing QC on their data, they got the added bonus of QC’ing their guidelines too! In fact, Terri shared that Lorena is already teaching others how to include the new functionality to their editing workflows and feels their editors are confident in using Data Reviewer right away!


Not only was the implementation successful, these two wonderful ladies were also so very hospitable and really appreciative of my visit.  They made my job enjoyable and I felt like we bonded instantly which made my trip so great. I am excited and I can’t wait to hear about their progress as they begin utilizing the tools effectively to clean up their entire water data.


We, at Esri, strive hard to enable our customers to successfully implement and efficiently use their GIS. That’s why we are offering complimentary Data Health Checks at the upcoming 2018 Esri UC. Watch this video of me inviting you to sign up for a session.



Michelle Johnson

GIS Data QA Lead, Geodata Services

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, April 9, 2018.

So I'm in New York City, NY recently with my family, and of course my kids, who are huge fans of video games, add the Nintendo World Store in NYC to our "must see" list during our visit. We stopped by and had a lot of fun touring the entire museum/store, and stocking up on goodies to take home. While we were there, I couldn't help noticing all of these Nintendo seals around the store, at the bottom of these seals are the words, "EST. 1889".

This really intrigued me. How can it be that Nintendo, one of the world's largest video game companies, was 129 years old?!? I turned to Wikipedia for the answer. Sure enough, Nintendo was founded as a playing card company on September 23, 1889, by Fusajiro Yamauchi. I had no idea it was that old; it's founding had predated electronic computers by almost 60 years. I was astonished that such a well-known, high-tech company, had such historic and modest roots.

This reminded me of one of my favorite informative items from Gartner, an American research and advisory firm providing information technology related insight for IT and other business leaders located across the world. It is a photo of a slide from one of their events, showing the results of an innovation survey; it states,

"The biggest threat to innovation is internal politics and an organizational culture, which doesn't accept failure and/or doesn't accept ideas from outside, and/or cannot change."

That statement is so true. Too many organizations are not innovative, due to these exact issues. When there is a lack of innovation, organizations stagnate and fall behind, and often do not get the return on investment for the technology they have already invested in. If they are private entities, they usually fail, because they cannot compete. If they are public entities, they are rendered ineffective and waste money. The cure to this is change management. Change is inevitable, but also not easy. We cannot ignore change. We must embrace it, part of that is accepting failure.

If you read the history section of the Nintendo Wikipedia entry, you will see that like many successful companies, not all of their endeavors are a success - these include a taxi company, a love hotel chain, a TV network, and a food company. Not all of their electronic gaming products have been huge successes, either. But the reason they are one of the leaders in this incredibly competitive industry, is because they are innovative - and part of that is accepting failure, accepting ideas from the outside, and changing.

So I put this challenge out there to all GIS practitioners: your job is to be innovative, so please do everything you can to make that happen. The people that are funding your work (shareholders, if you work for a private company - taxpayers, if you work for a government agency - donors, if you work for a non-profit) deserve a good return on their investment in you - that means you have got to use all of the capabilities you have available to you, and you have got to keep the technology current - it is the crux of your job. You have got to make it a priority and dedicate time for it.

Don't believe that one person cannot make a difference in an organization, there are many examples to prove otherwise, this being a great one: Accelerating Small-Town Services on a Small-Town Budget. Change management and innovation take time and resources, please invest in them. There's a difference between being a manager and a leader, you have a great opportunity to lead, please make the most of it. You have access to powerful technology that can make a difference in your organization, your community, and your life. As Denzel Washington so eloquently put it, "Don't just aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference."

Some ideas on where to start:

Learn the basics of Change Management. Here are some excellent resources: GovLoop, Harvard Business Review, McKinsey & Company, Kotter International, Prosci

Seek to be influential. Here are Three Differences Between a Manager and a Leader.

Communicate with, not to, your leaders. Seek them out. Learn their pain and their vision. Then propose solutions that alleviate their pain, and support their vision. They will become your supporters.

Get some help. Reach out to the GIS community, they are a powerful force.

Thanks to Michael Green and David Schneider for peer review of this post.

The Esri User Conference presents a unique opportunity for professionals of all domains to collaborate and learn about the power of leveraging The Science of Where™ in their organization. This year’s theme, “GIS, Inspiring What’s Next” gets to the heart of how GIS can transform organizations. 


Organizations of all types are seeking out new ways to leverage GIS to improve mission execution, achieve business goals, and provide new insights. GIS has shifted from a siloed technology to being cross-cutting, touching business units across the entire enterprise.


This shift presents challenges for GIS leaders, managers, and IT professionals. Introducing new technologies has a direct impact on an organization’s people. Inspiring your workforce to change and embrace new technology-enabled workflows requires a strategic, collaborative approach.

Change management is a formalized approach to analyzing the workforce impact of integrating new technologies into workflows and planning accordingly. The planning process accounts for

  • Sponsorship
  • Communications
  • Resistance management
  • Training and workforce development


Integrating people=focused change management activities into your GIS technology implementation plans helps to

  • Provide seamless integration of people-oriented support into your technology project plans.
  • Increase in adoption rates.
  • Earn executive sponsorship support.
  • Shorten your implementation cycles.


Several conference sessions are available to help you start thinking about change management:

Implementing ArcGIS Track

GIS Manager Track

If you cannot make it to the sessions or you would like to spend time elaborating on the concepts and knowledge gained in the two sessions, stop by the Implementing ArcGIS area in the Expo. Talk with us about

  • Your organization’s change readiness.
  • The risk and impacts of change.
  • Strategies to increase technology adoption across your team, department, or organization.

Whether you are introducing GIS to a few key individuals or you are preparing for an enterprise GIS implementation, there are many opportunities to learn how to integrate people-oriented change management principles into your strategy at this year’s User Conference.

Esri's expert Training Consultant will help you identify the proper courses that will help you reach your goals.  They will work with you to implement a plan for an individual, depart or project and even an enterprise wide Workforce Development Plan.  They have the tools, resources and expertise to help make you ArcGIS implementation a success.

As part of your organization's operational support strategy I recommend checking out ArcGIS Monitor. This new Esri product is key to optimizing your enterprise GIS and getting the most from your GIS and IT investment. The User Conference is only a couple weeks away and is a great opportunity for you to learn more about it. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you are headed to the 2018 Esri User Conference, and need some guidance in creating your personal agenda, and you are a current, or future, GIS Manager, check out this flier that lists some recommended activities.  They include the GIS Managers' Open Summit and the GIS Manager Track.


GIS Manager Events and Activities UC 2018 Flier 

If you are headed to the 2018 Esri User Conference, and want to hear from experts and peers on planning strategies for a successful enterprise GIS, please consider attending the GIS Managers' Open Summit on Tuesday, July 10th.  Here is a link to a GeoNet blog post that provides more information, and includes a link to the registrations site.  Registration is free, but since we have limited space, we require attendees to register.  Hope to see you there!


Esri User Conference Behind-the-Scenes: GIS Managers' Open Summit 

If you maintain any of the of following datasets, you should take advantage of the GIS Data Health Check activity at the 2018 Esri User Conference!

  • Water, wastewater, sewer, or stormwater
  • Electric or gas
  • Roads and highways
  • Utility pipelines
  • Land records or addressing
  • 3D data


Meet with me or one of my esteemed colleagues who will sit with you to review a sample of your data, explain the types of issues to look for, and what errors you may have in your data.  Find out more here


Be sure to make your reservation as soon as you can; appointments fill up fast!  To reserve your spot, go here.  


See you at the UC!

Michelle Johnson

GIS Data QA Lead, Geodata Services

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