Manage the Business of IT with a Standard Model for IT Costs

The Apptio TBM Unified Model™ (ATUM) is a specification that defines the elements of a standard cost model for technology. With standardized IT cost calculations, leaders can manage the business of IT more effectively.

Imagine you lead a function that is one of largest cost centers in the company, but your organization lacks the information you need – including the true cost of delivering outputs – to effectively measure, manage, and communicate these costs. If you manage IT, this probably sounds familiar.

In fact, it is an all-too-common challenge that IT leaders face on a regular basis.

Distorted View of IT Costs and Value

IT leaders often struggle to understand corporate finance metrics in the context of IT. Translating data from finance into IT-relevant structures requires the difficult integration of disparate data sets and complex formulas. It’s so time-consuming, fragile, and hard to defend that IT leaders often make-do with rudimentary information about their business function.

Consequently, IT leaders lack the granularity or accuracy needed to make informed technology decisions and drive fact-based conversations with business units about the value of IT.

Introducing a Standard Model for IT Costs

Getting IT, finance, and business units on the same page about technology cost, value, and decisions requires a granular, defensible view of IT financial information. To address this need, Apptio created ATUM, the new standard model for IT costs. 


Apptio developed ATUM based on our experiences with more than 200 customers and our role as Technical Advisor to the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council. ATUM consists of:

  • Data: Source data elements, formats, and relationships needed by the model in order to calculate costs.
  • Taxonomy: Standard management categories for common IT functions so that everyone shares the same terminology and context.
  • Model: Standard costing rules to map and apportion general ledger costs to IT categories described in the taxonomy.

Here’s a video of a seven-minute “Pecha Kucha”-style overview of ATUM and its benefits that I gave back in October at the TBM Conference in Miami:

Managing the Business of IT

ATUM provides important benefits to you:

  • Better alignment between IT, finance, and business units via common language and information about IT costs.
  • Confidence to manage the business of IT with the backing of peer-derived best practices.
  • Easier, more frequent IT cost comparisons with peers via ATUM-aligned benchmarking.
  • Faster adoption of Technology Business Management disciplines via pre-packaged software built to the standard.

As Lisa Stalter, IT Finance Director for Cox Enterprises, put it: “ATUM took the noise out of conversations that might have otherwise slowed us down. It provided a familiar, industry-proven model that everyone could easily get their hands around.”

Apply ATUM in Your Organization

Your IT organization can benefit from standardizing their approach to IT cost analytics, and Apptio is ready to help. Contact the experts at Apptio.

Learn more about ATUM by downloading this whitepaper. You can also order a complimentary ATUM poster to hang in your workspace so you can easily explain ATUM to colleagues.