Streamlining NIH’s Transitions and Standardizing Enterprise Applications

Client Situation

 In 2011, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) created the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to bring about innovations in grant management, and both clinical and pre-clinical research.The mission of NCATS at NIH is to catalyze the generation of innovative methods and technologies that will enhance the development, testing and implementation of diagnostics and therapeutics across a wide range of human diseases and conditions. This transition, and prior NCRR issues, required advanced IT planning and support.

In 2009, NCRR experienced costly IT maintenance problems caused by disparate enterprise applications built on legacy technology lacking defined processes or documentation. End users registered complaints—from data quality to the impact on scientific advancements. Further, scientists and staff worked with a variety of computer configurations, which generated an array of issues for NCRR’s IT Service Desk.

Then, with the founding of NCATS, an IT transition model was needed to streamline changes for the new institute in 2012 and beyond.

The Digital Infuzion Solution

Digital Infuzion (DIFZ) began working with NCRR to support the Office of Information Technology in 2009. First, DIFZ implemented:

  • Program/project management best practices.
  • A governance model to improve the IT services delivery, operations, security compliance and stakeholder communications.
  • Collaboration with center executives to understand the scientific needs and IT bottlenecks.
  • A solution to end users’ issues by creating an Agile Environment with tailored processes.

The team standardized the center’s enterprise applications with a customized process improvement approach—Capability Maturity Model Integration – Development Level 3 (CMMI-L3)—to identify and implement the proper functions, processes and Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) practices.  

DIFZ also proposed and implemented a standard configuration for the laptop and desktop computers throughout the institution.

For the retirement of NCRR and creation of NCATS, Digital Infuzion’s Project Management Office (PMO) conducted impact analysis and developed a detailed plan to support other NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs). As part of the transition plan, DIFZ supported and collaborated with other IT teams to ensure that appropriate transfers of users, accounts, systems and IT infrastructure are implemented.

Digital Infuzion staff and team members were recognized for their work on the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Standup, having been selected to receive the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Award.


Digital Infuzion provided an efficient and transparent solution for the creation of NCATS and the future of the new institution.

  • Program and project management excellence
    • The DIFZ PMO team ensures the health and efficiency of the NCATS program by decoupling the complexities and identifying auditable performance metrics that are critical to the organization.
  • Reduced time and cost via CMMI-L3
    • By standardizing NCRR’s enterprise applications via implementation of CMMI-L3 10 months ahead of schedule, the institution benefitted from reduced time and cost for maintaining and incorporating new enhancements in the enterprise applications. 
  • Increased effectiveness and improved user experience
    • CMMI-L3 enabled NCRR to optimize the configuration of the enterprise applications, contributing to improved data quality and a reduction in the number of user complaints.
  • Improved customer satisfaction
    • DIFZ’s Service Desk improvements resulted in customer satisfaction scores increasing from approximately 5.5 to 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Successful groundwork for transition
    • DIFZ’s PMO planned and implemented the transition model to ensure the successful transition from NCRR to NCATS in a seamless collaboration with other NIH centers and offices. NCATS leverages this transition approach and planning model as the center continues to evolve.