How Apptio Targetprocess Helped McGraw Hill’s Digital Platform Group Become More Agile

“We used to track budget versus actuals manually. Now, we catch spend allocation with each month’s close within a day. This has allowed us to increase our investment in innovation while sticking to our budget.”

Executive summary

A leading global education company, McGraw Hill has been at the forefront of the education industry for 135 years, creating innovative ways to help students and educators learn, teach, and grow.

To support its ongoing digital transformation, McGraw Hill undertook multiple transformation projects focused on improving customer value delivery without disrupting ongoing work — a challenging objective. By implementing ApptioOne and Apptio Targetprocess, company leaders gained real-time insights into labor allocation and costs, project expenses and flow, transparency in capital utilization, and better alignment of investment by category (run vs. grow) to improve investment in innovation. This proved transformative in driving towards increased enterprise agility for McGraw Hill’s Digital Platform Group (DPG).

The challenge

Although McGraw Hill had well-defined metrics, it was clear that DPG’s leaders needed a better and faster way to capture and analyze data to report on performance against them, especially as it related to labor planning and capitalization.

At the time, the finance team managed everything in bespoke Excel spreadsheets. The existing manual rostering process took 40 hours a month to update the data. The process had to be limited to only a few directors to be manageable.

“This [rostering process] represented the only source of truth for who was on which team in a month so we can establish team cost, which is the foundation of our cost model,” said Yuliya Oberman, finance director at McGraw Hill.

With the increasing demand for transparency into labor allocation due to ongoing transformation projects, prioritization, and capacity planning were critical, as well as striking the right balance between onshore, offshore, and near-shore resources to optimize costs. However, trying to accomplish this manually using spreadsheets was too challenging to manage.

The solution

McGraw Hill’s DPG began evaluating Apptio Targetprocess in November 2021. Once deemed a good fit for the organization, the product was implemented in September 2022. By October, Targetprocess had become the source of truth for the company’s rostering.

As part of the company’s ongoing effort to drive better business performance via KPIs, the leadership team wanted to generate more accurate and defensible cost allocations. This led them to implement ApptioOne in December 2022 for the advanced cost allocation capabilities the product offers.

ApptioOne, combined with Apptio Targetprocess, enabled transparency of technology costs across the organization, replacing its manual spreadsheet-driven processes for IT financial management, enhancing resource management and automating many of the company’s reporting needs — producing significant results for the organization.

The results

Better resource management

McGraw Hill’s DPG integrated Apptio with Jira and now uses Apptio to monitor project status, forecast labor, and perform capacity planning. DPG can now see in Apptio real-time data about project details, the contribution of teams to projects, and labor breakdown, and that helps make better decisions.

“If we understand how we’re using our resources, we can look more carefully at the things that deliver the most value to the organization and prioritize our efforts toward those things,” James Hudson, director of program management, and Oberman said.

Increased investment in innovation

Another key performance indicator for McGraw Hill’s DPG is making sure they are using allocated capital well.

“We used to track budget versus actuals manually,” Oberman said. “Now, we catch spend allocation with each month’s close within a day. This has allowed us to increase our investment in innovation while sticking to our budget.”

Reduced unallocated work by 25%

McGraw Hill’s DPG can now see the percentage of unallocated work month over month and act proactively to ensure they’re maximizing the use of resources and capitalizing labor effectively. This has enabled them to reduce incorrectly unallocated work by over 25%.

Optimized labor composition

Making sure they are optimizing resources is critical, Hudson said, but so is leveraging the right mix of skills, full-time resources, and contractors. Apptio helps them forecast their labor needs, as well as track costs by FTE, contractors, offshore and onshore, enabling McGraw Hill’s DPG to make decisions that improve delivery and optimize costs.

Enhanced workflow

In addition to improving resource management, Apptio has helped McGraw Hill’s DPG ensure all work is visible and aligned throughout the organization. Apptio helps them track backlog growth over time and monitor lifespan, work span, and slippage through ApptioOne custom views.

Increased alignment of investments with enterprise strategy

Apptio has provided McGraw Hill’s DPG with transparency of technology costs that stakeholders had never seen before. This has helped the finance team add more value to the business and foster collaboration within the organization. As Oberman describes, “Apptio helps us transform the conversation about value for money. It connects the work that is being done with the cost. And that is transforming how resources are being used across our organization.”

According to both Oberman and Hudson, this has made a significant impact on how the company delivers projects in alignment with strategic objectives.

“We are dramatically increasing transparency, which is driving better decisions,” Hudson said. “We are allocating all of our labor spend … in a way that we can understand investment by category, project, and business drivers. And we have seen significant improvement in our ability to focus investments on CapEx innovation.”

Oberman added, “And we have increased our enterprise agility by aligning the work with our key business objectives. This has enabled us to transform financial planning and link strategic investments to our enterprise strategy.”

Process efficiency

Automated roster management through TargetProcess increased accuracy by 50% and decreased time to produce by 80% while empowering historical record keeping through connecting to ApptioOne.

“Unprompted, I was told that our new process allowed team leads to update the roster in less time than it used to take them to send an email to their director to have the director update the roster,” said Hudson.

Next steps

Apptio has given company leaders a wealth of insight, creating transparency across the organization into DPG spend and enabling real-time alignment of capacity to strategic objectives. And according to Oberman, they have more coming in the near future with Apptio. “We are planning to implement IT planning for software contracts, [move towards] product total cost of ownership (TCO), and expand the use of TBM taxonomy,” she said.

Sign up for a personalized demo of ApptioOne and Apptio Targetprocess and see how your organization can leverage cost transparency and data-driven insight to reduce costs, increase enterprise agility, and make better decisions about your IT spend.

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