Olga Nissen on Value Realization and Change Management for TBM

Olga Nissen
Managing Director Accenture Strategy

Olga Nissen joined Accenture in 1996 after graduating from Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia. In 2000, she joined McKinsey’s Copenhagen office and became partner in 2010. In 2016, she re-joined Accenture as leader of Accenture Strategy Denmark. Olga has served clients across several industries and geographies on technology-enabled, strategic topics.  In this article, Olga discusses how to get the most of out of TBM and Apptio by focusing on value and change management. 

In my work as a top-management advisor, I see many companies in the name of digitalization are deploying a lot of tools, but fail to realize their full value potential because they often underestimate the importance of change management and lack focus on value capture.

That is why when we were asked to help a large European financial services firm to adopt TBM practices by deploying  Apptio's software, we used a holistic approach that besides actual software implementation included five other essential elements: data, insights, people, processes, and value.  The project was less about the tool implementation, and more about transforming technology performance management practices and management decision making enabled by Apptio.

Managing change is the key

By combining data from multiple sources, including financial and operational data, Apptio generates insights that the client didn’t see before and allows performance analysis at a finer level of granularity.  To fully embrace that possibility, the client needed to change its existing planning and performance management processes, transfer some responsibilities from financial controllers to operational managers, and change decision-making practices.

Change management and training become an important workstream of the program. We trained 60 people across different functions in the organization to use Apptio in their daily activities. We also spend time with leaders to ensure the tool is adopted as a single source of truth and a reliable instrument for decision making supporting strategic initiatives (e.g., application rationalization were relying on the insights from Apptio).

Another process that gets changed and redefined enabled by Apptio is demand management. Usually, finance, operations, and business are not in the same room together, looking at the same data. Nor do they speak similar languages. Apptio changes that. Everyone works from the same data source. They also have a tool that translates the often conflicting languages of technology, finance, and business into one common language that helps shift conversations away from cost and focuses them more on the value of the technology, its usage, and drivers. The insights this provides changes the way technology decisions are across the organization.

But to get to that point, you first have to get the tool up and running and then get into the hands of the people that need it. After Apptio was deployed, training the 60 IT people was critical to putting the tool to use beyond IT finance. Now, cost centers owners, application owners, business analysts, IT admins, and the CIO can see what was driving costs and then make informed decisions around what to do about it.

To ensure that change is sustainable and the usage of the tool is evolving, we supported the client to establish a TBM office with few dedicated people.

Relentless data quality improvement

Apptio connects data from multiple sources, and people find a lot of bad data to be fixed. This takes time. There needs to be an ongoing commitment to improving the accuracy of reporting and analytics. The better the data; the better the decisions. (The old IT expression "garbage-in, garbage-out" comes to mind here.)

We identified 54 data improvement initiatives across different categories of data. Some of those initiatives were implemented as a result of the projects; others are on-going. Data improvement never stops—it is critical to establish data management as a discipline.

Value hunting

Value hunting, TBM practice hardwired in the Apptio tool, empowers people to make informed decisions about the value technology brings to the organization and identifies optimization levers.

Unique insights from disparate data sources support value realization initiatives. To build consensus and support, we brought together stakeholders from different parts of the organization into a workshop to validate these insights and define improvement initiatives.

This was probably the most important part of the project.  People realized the importance and value of TBM to drive continuous improvement and relentlessly focusing on repurposing efficiency gains into investments in areas of competitive advantage.

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