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New San Bernardino County CIO Digs into Modernization, Planning

Lynn Fyhrlund joined the Inland Empire county in late May and is helping shape its IT strategy, connecting with business partners and gearing up to replace some IT systems.

The new CIO of San Bernardino County arrived right in time to tackle several key projects.

No stranger to the CIO’s seat, Lynn Fyhrlund comes to Southern California from Milwaukee County, Wis., where he spent more than three years in the role. He joins San Bernardino as the county is looking to replace several systems and develop a new multiyear strategic plan for its IT department.

“They had a three-year strategy that, luckily for me, had just ended, so I get to come in with fresh eyes and we get to start off with our next IT strategy for the next three years,” Fyhrlund said.

As Fyhrlund looks to tackle the challenges ahead, he’ll put an emphasis on team building and communication, he said. He spoke to GovTech three weeks into his new job, as he was working to get to know everyone.

“When you’re a new CIO coming into a new area, you come in, you need to listen to everything that's going on around, you need to understand where the county is trying to go and you need to understand where the employees are at and how can we achieve what San Bernardino wants to get to,” Fyhrlund said. He’s also working to connect with business partners within the county about their missions and needs.

For Fyhrlund, moving to San Bernardino was a natural choice.

“They have a great leadership team. Their vision to prosper and achieve a well-being for everyone … is right along with where I want to get to — I want to lift up people within the community,” he said. Plus, professionally “this is my next step: It’s a larger scope, it’s good for professional growth and there’s a lot of leadership opportunity here. The county is set up well to move in the future to where we’re going with technology.”

With the help of his team, Fyhrlund’s getting familiar with the different state laws and practices as well as with the larger county.

San Bernardino serves a population north of 2 million — more than double Milwaukee County’s roughly 900,000. Plus, Fyhrlund said he’s gone from a county with 4,000 employees to one with 22,000. With that size comes a larger fleet of endpoints to secure against cyber attacks, as well as other practical concerns.

“It’s a larger scope here,” he said. “So [for] everything we do, I look at, ‘OK, is this scalable?’”

As San Bernardino looks ahead, the county aims to replace some IT systems, including its human capital management system. Change management and systems implementations are likely to be a significant undertaking in a county of this size, but Fyhrlund brings lessons learned from prior experience handling enterprise resource planning system adoptions in both the public and private sectors. Those insights can help “so that we don’t trip over things that I tripped over in the past,” he said.

For example, large implementations go smoothest when all stakeholders — not just IT — war room together. Agencies that will be using the systems as well as those handling the tech need to designate representatives who can make it their focus to bring the project to completion and influence implementation. If folks are only working on the project on the side, around their primary jobs, this can easily lead to project delays.

Plus, getting all these stakeholders together ensures the project can be designed and evolved with process considerations in mind, not just technology considerations. It also gets everyone on the same page.

“A lot of times when you implement large systems, you end up changing processes. And to change processes, those units that are going to be affected need to be involved in the process change and see how that technology is going to be applied then,” Fyhrlund said. “If you apply technology to current processes, sometimes you’re going to come up with horrible results.”

Along with his previous tenure as a county CIO, Fyhrlund brings experience in private-sector manufacturing and logistics, as well as consulting. That time taught him about understanding and meeting end-user expectations, he said.

“That portion of my life helped me understand how to get to an end state [and] how to get there on time,” Fyhrlund said.

He also spent more than two decades in the Army Reserves, retiring as a command sergeant major. That time emphasized communication and team building.

“I had four mobilizations, two combat deployments,” Fyhrlund said. “That helped hone my leadership skills. (In) taking care of soldiers or taking care of employees, (you’re) understanding that people are your best asset and that’s how you get things done … The army is up and down about teams, and how we communicate and how everyone’s part of that team and how we’re all successful. The same is true within any organization — you have to build that team cohesiveness so that a team works together toward the common goal.”

This story first appeared in Government Technology magazine, Industry Insider — California’s sister publication.
Jule Pattison-Gordon is a staff writer for Government Technology. She previously wrote for PYMNTS and The Bay State Banner, and holds a B.A. in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon. She’s based outside Boston.