Governmental Agency Uses TBM to Accelerate Business Agility

“TBM has helped us to focus on our most critical problems, frame how we think about the data, and help us become a more data-driven organization. We've aligned our data through programming, planning, and execution to the taxonomy and have begun to make use of it for investment decision support.”

Director,
Financial Management Division

Despite its increasing reliance on technology solutions to support its mission, this governmental agency experienced decreasing funding levels. To better understand and manage costs, it invested in Technology Business Management (TBM) for a tech refresh that helped them find flexibility within their budget and modernize their IT infrastructure.

The challenge

Despite an increasing reliance on technology solutions to support its mission, this agency experienced decreasing funding levels. With more funds spent on operating and sustaining legacy systems, it needed to shift additional funding to modernize IT infrastructure.

Simultaneously, the agency was becoming reliant on its internal mission offices to self-fund IT programs, and these constituents demanded more financial transparency and accountability into the IT budget.

It needed to mature its IT financial management capabilities to better understand and manage costs, communicate IT spend to customers, and find flexibility within its budget to fund critical priorities such as cloud migration, network modernization, and tech refresh.

Initially, TBM started as a compliance exercise in the federal government; the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) originally mandated it for all IT spending beginning in 2018. However, this agency identified that TBM could support and justify its budget to mission partners and oversight agencies.

TBM adoption

The TBM methodology allows agency executives to be more consistent and transparent in their IT spend reporting. TBM reporting is also standardized across government agencies, making it easier for executives to benchmark spend against other agencies with similar IT requirements. Many leaders of other related mission offices use the underlying TBM tools to make strategic and operational decisions.

Modernized analytics, governance, and portfolio management capabilities

This agency implemented TBM taxonomy reporting through programming, planning, and execution of financial systems. It automated several operational reports and reduced the labor required to manage its IT portfolio effectively.

Created automated data models and dashboards with Apptio

Leveraging Apptio’s IT costing and analytics capabilities, end-users review dashboards for key performance indicators (KPIs), and data visualizations to analyze IT requirements, monitor cloud spend, plan tech refresh, and support critical network infrastructure chargeback. Reporting dashboards put the data needed to fulfill mission objectives into the hands of stakeholders, reducing the amount of manual analysis efforts. Executives use the same dashboards to get a high-level overview of their organization’s performance and benchmark their organization with the rest of the agency.

Collected IT tower and cost pool data on major IT investments

IT budget staff categorized IT funding requirements with IT towers across the programming and budgeting phases of the federal financial lifecycle. In FY20, expanded data collection to IT sub-towers and cost pools delivered greater fidelity into IT requirements’ technology and finance layers.

IT asset management tool improved procurement strategy and demand forecasting

The tech refresh for end-user devices dashboard, built with Apptio Studio, displays by organization/location/city/state, the location of technology, and its place in the lifecycle (e.g., one year, three years, or end of life). The Office of IT (OIT) is responsible for maintaining and replacing over 100,000 end-user devices spread across 2,000 geographic locations. OIT must adhere to industry best practices for technology refresh lifecycles to meet its cybersecurity needs.

In 2019, this agency began coordinating with other offices to identify network monitoring tools that could serve a dual purpose. “We found a tool that records which devices are pinging in the network,” said financial management division director. “It gathers metadata together with our asset management records in our accounting system to capture our end-user devices’ footprint.”

After merging metadata information with asset management information, the agency developed a data model with the cost transparency capabilities of ApptioOne to further the visibility of past end-of-life devices, including location, age, and forecasted replacement cost. Previously, many offices managed their end-user devices individually. It was challenging to make agency-wide operational decisions and report accurate metrics regarding the active IT assets at the agency. The incorporation of this tool enabled forecasting of end-user IT asset replacement costs multiple years ahead of time, negotiation for bulk purchase pricing, and locating inventoried assets without the need for manual data analysis.

Broad communication of cost and effectiveness of cloud migration

The cloud migration dashboard is primarily used within OIT to determine cloud migration costs and ensure cost efficiency and transparency. OIT is in the process of migrating its specific application footprint out of physical data centers to the cloud. Given the new cost drivers associated with cloud hosting, OIT monitors and analyzes cost data to inform future decision-making and prevent cost overruns.

“We established automated data connections between Apptio and the cloud to refresh the data model daily,” said the director. Since deploying the cloud, OIT monitors cost and usage across all three cloud platforms. “The dashboard has assisted us with cloud financial management practices,” said the director. “It’s identified some weaknesses that we’ve had in cloud tagging.” Cloud stakeholders receive daily updates on the costs of their application for budget planning.

Showback for data circuits

OIT started with a dashboard for land, mobile, and radio circuits (LMR) and has expanded to data circuits. The agency has a vast network of data circuits and needs showback on data circuits to communicate usage to end-users.

TBM results

The agency’s TBM implementation allowed them to improve IT asset management, determine the cost of maintaining hardware not yet deployed, and understand the total cost of replacing end-of-life hardware. Automating this previously manual process created a 95% reduction in time spent on asset refresh monitoring, planning, and reporting. OIT monitors the usage and associated cloud costs for 100+ applications migrated to the cloud through daily and monthly reports in Apptio. Monitoring allows application owners to receive real-time notifications when costs exceed a certain threshold leading to a reduced variance in cloud costs.

Improved cloud usage monitoring informs the agency’s migration planning and budgeting, improves cloud architecture decision-making, and enables enhanced oversight across its cloud environments. Its fortified cloud tagging policy has delivered better cloud financial controls.

“TBM has helped us to focus on our most critical problems, frame how we think about the data, and help us become a more data-driven organization,” said the director. “We’ve aligned our data through programming, planning, and execution to the taxonomy and have begun to make use of it for investment decision support.”

What’s next for this governmental agency and TBM?

Despite the agency’s significant progress and results, the director believes they are still in the early stages of their TBM journey. The director is looking to incrementally refine the agency’s ability to drive more customer engagement and transparency, shape IT demand, and use cost as a critical consideration for operational decisions such as application hosting decisions. “IT financial management has become a key discipline. The TBM taxonomy makes us think more critically about how we approach IT financial management,” said the director. “We still have significant unfunded requirements and an increasingly complex and challenging mission, but we are better prepared today to meet it head-on.” The deputy CIO and deputy assistant commissioner of OIT also has an upbeat assessment of the impact of TBM on boosting the relations with the organization’s financial offices. “[With TBM practice] we can communicate the value and impact of IT to not only internal but external customers,” he said. “We can provide agency decision-makers with a deeper visibility into these requirements and costs across a full financial lifecycle.”

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