What We Learned from the Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program

Like many businesses in the private sector, state legislatures have become more knowledgeable about the cloud and configurable platforms. Such advancements have made it possible to build value-driven applications through drag-and-drop interfaces instead of code, thereby increasing speed to market. This technology comprehension has changed expectations on how long it takes to implement solutions resulting from legislation, even more so when outsourcing a government digital transformation strategy to another party. The Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program (INESA) was no different in that respect.

Once the legislation was enacted and the funds were appropriated, Kyra Solutions was tasked with building a solution for providers to offer services to families interested in taking advantage of the new state program — one that offers tax-free funds to eligible students for pre-approved education expenses. As with most applications these days, the user experience was critical. It must be simple and intuitive for families to find the information they need to make informed decisions around learning alternatives for their children and how to apply and participate in the program.

Working Under an Accelerated Timeline

Due to the intended timeline of the constituent-facing portal being operational in a matter of just months, our team didn’t have long to develop a solution. An agile approach would be key to proper government project management, especially with such a short turnaround time. In our experience, the careful planning of sequential phases —coupled with smaller, iterative development deliverables —make it possible to deliver a minimum viable product with usable, high-value features within shorter cycles.

This hybrid agile approach would also make it possible to categorize and build the various features and requirements of the project, as well as conduct rapid testing, catch and fix any bugs, and finetune the features and requirements of the platform. Besides, we were working toward multiple “go-live” events — those for the educational entities and those for the students and their families. A few months prior to the constituent-facing portal going live, educational entities would also need a portal to gather information about INESA, learn about the eligibility requirements set by the Treasurer of State, and submit an application and receive approval from the ESA Program.

Employing a Collaborative Approach to Development

For rapid application development and proper project management in the government sector, client engagement is critical — and we were lucky enough to find that in this situation. It would influence the project schedule and ability to achieve milestones. It would also influence project deliverables, as a great deal of benefit can come from working collaboratively and exploring the multiple solution alternatives to the design.

During pre-contract discussions, we learned the level of empowerment of team members and their availability as it related to their workloads. The decision was then made to use a distributed team model, as it would provide the balance necessary for all stakeholders. We would use video conferencing, collaboration-enabled technology, and PaaS applications to move the project through its various phases.

Fortunately, the whole team approach worked exceedingly well. Our team was met with a high level of engagement from the Treasurer of State and ESA Program staff. Their engagement level, preparedness, and empowerment to make decisions were major contributors to achieving critical solution dates, as well as meeting the overall objectives for the portal.

It isn't uncommon, particularly during the early phases of a project, for state agencies to require some government process improvement. Election cycles, term limits, and legislative controls can get in the way and impede progress. But it didn’t take us long to see that this team had an understanding of and experience with government project management.

Going Live With the INESA Portal

Though it should go without saying, the INESA portal is now live. Families and students can find not only an approved list of providers and eligibility requirements, but also tutorial videos and upcoming events associated with the program. The scholarship has provided many Indiana families and emancipated students up to the age of 22 the opportunity to spend additional money on approved educational programs, therapies, services, and other expenses related to education.

Kyra Solutions’ focus on the public sector gives us a unique understanding of the challenges and expectations of state agencies. We accelerate comprehension with expertise in the market and our ability to partner with government programs to turn legislation into solution requirements.

If you’d like to learn more about our platform solution for the Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program, we welcome you to download the INESA project case study today. You can also request additional information on any one of our services. We'd be more than happy to discuss what you're looking for and arrive at a solution that suits your specific needs.

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