The adoption of Technology Business Management (TBM) as part of the White House’s management initiative points to a disruptive shift in the way federal agencies handle their IT. The change presents IT managers an opportunity to work with their technology clients in the agencies they serve to help them increase the value they get from what they spend. As the US government moves its IT infrastructure to the cloud, this becomes even more important. But in order to fulfill that opportunity, they will need new tools capable of breaking costs down to a new level of detail to help them understand how technology budgets are being spent. 

The Federal Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) adoption of TBM as part of the 2019 budget request sets the direction for agencies to use a standardized set of categories as defined in the TBM standard for consistency and oversight across multiple agencies. And DoD certification of key vendors is giving IT leaders access to tools that leverage these standards. 

Running the business of IT

The shift in the way IT is managed is placing more responsibility on the government’s IT managers. The fact that the OMB recognizes the practice as TBM—technology BUSINESS management—speaks volumes. Bringing technology spend under control requires a business approach to understanding usage, allocation, service availability, and maximization of resources. But even with the right mindset in place, it’s difficult for managers to get the information they need to make decisions and then make appropriate changes.

Federal IT spending for civilian agencies, defense, and intelligence agencies is estimated to eclipse $100 billion for 2019. And the shift to cloud-based infrastructures, with its increased complexity of configurations, increases the difficulty of boiling down massive and varied invoices to present concise and actionable reports that can be shared and acted upon.

The adoption of TBM is a significant step toward giving IT the tools it needs to more effectively manage its spend because TBM is more than a slogan or even a way of approaching the business of IT. The TBM Taxonomy provides a standardized way of categorizing every IT expenditure. The TBM Council, a group of individuals and companies concerned with creating a consistent way of categorizing IT spending, actively reviews the needs of groups that use the standard. With the increased emphasis on adoption within the federal government, specific terminology and use categories have been considered to accommodate the needs of governmental agencies.

All in the details

Collecting the invoices from multiple vendors ranging from cloud services, SaaS applications, connectivity suppliers, support services, and every other IT expense may be simple enough because they all end up associated with purchase orders and payment requests. But bringing them all into a common format and segmenting them by function, then allocating those expenses to the departments that used them and then to each individual project requires significant effort. With cloud service invoices made up of thousands of lines of individual charges, analysis is difficult and time-consuming.

IT managers are faced with additional complexities when they try to combine invoices from different vendors that each use different descriptions for the same or similar services. TBM provides a framework to put all the invoices and disparate item descriptions together in a common but universally accepted set of IT nomenclature so that IT and its customers have a way to evaluate their overall consumption and compare offerings across vendors and departments.

Putting the tools in place

Software tools do exist to bring order and consistency to customers of cloud-based services. The most common practice has been for federal agencies to enlist consultants to construct spreadsheets that consume the invoices and produce reports. This gets the job done but when vendors change the layouts of their invoices, or new vendors are added, the spreadsheets need to be rebuilt, making the practice unsustainable and expensive.

Putting TBM into practical use requires an ongoing effort to create and manage the standard itself and then to implement that standard with tools that are flexible enough to accommodate change. Apptio’s TBM Unified Model (ATUM) puts the TBM specification into practice. As an active founding member of the TBM Council, Apptio has created a suite of tools designed to leverage a common language around IT costs. The solutions let IT managers make sense of their expenses. More than that, managers can create reports broken down by service, time, department, project and more, giving them a comprehensive view of spending trends so they can help their user departments maximize their spend and make decisions about service performance.

Apptio has received an Impact Level 2 (IL2) DoD certification and FedRAMP authorization, making it generally available to agencies in the defense sector of the US Government. Apptio is one of only 82 applications to receive this DoD certification. This puts them in good company with other Impact Level DoD certifications including Amazon AWS, DISA, IBM, and Oracle. IT managers can deploy ATUM to help them understand and take control over their complex spending patterns and partner with the agencies they serve to help them maximize their cloud resources.

Learn more about Apptio and the government's Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) program here.

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