FITARA is changing the way agencies and their CIOs relate to IT investments. While the law is meant to help reform the technology acquisition process, it also addresses ongoing budget challenges, as CIOs now have to manage IT spending across the agency.
GovLoop sat down with Suzanne Chartol, Customer Success Advisor at Apptio, a leading provider of cloud-based software for managing the business of IT, to talk about what challenges CIOs face with FITARA and how Technology Business Management (TBM) and Apptio can help.
Chartol noted that FITARA has changed the responsibilities of federal CIOs. “They’ve now been given the authority to manage IT spending across the entire agency, and that’s not something they had before,” she said. “Many federal CIOs see this as an advantage because it gives them the authority to do the right thing for government and for taxpayers in general.”
Making the most of that authority requires CIOs to understand more about what is driving IT spending. But figuring out what is being purchased and how much it costs the agency is challenging because IT funding is embedded in appropriations for various program offices, and it’s muddled by government accounting systems. “These issues make it difficult for them to really get a handle on spending, and you can’t control, change or, more importantly, improve what you don’t know you have,” Chartol said.
The key to working through these challenges is collaboration and communication around IT spending. This collaboration includes a variety of stakeholders, including the CIO, CFO, business units and cross-agency partners.
However, there are different ways of framing the value of IT that can inhibit collaboration and communication. For example, while the IT department may see the value and opportunity in networks and circuits, people on the business side may not know what that means and how it benefits the agency.
“Cost transparency is really about being able to unify the cost structure in a way that can be interpreted by those different stakeholders,” she said. The IT, business and finance departments need to be speaking the same language.
TBM offers agencies a solution to that challenge.
TBM is a framework for translating cost, value, and quality between different IT stakeholders. This decision-making framework helps maximize the business value of IT spending by giving IT leaders the facts needed to collaborate on business objectives.
The framework is a set of best practices that unifies IT, mission areas and finance, by helping those groups communicate and collaborate. “These three areas have overlapping but distinct goals, and having TBM in the middle to translate can help them speak a similar language,” Chartol said.
With TBM, CIOs will have a standard method for measuring the cost, efficiency, and value of their IT investments. It arms CIOs with standard data about the total cost and unit costs of delivering technologies, applications and services. As a result, waste and inefficient spending can be easily identified and then eliminated.
Apptio helps agencies implement TBM by having the standard taxonomy integrated into its suite of applications. In addition, Apptio has a standard technique for applying TBM’s taxonomy based on experience and a deep understanding of what data sources to look for, how those sources relate to one another, and how they drive the calculation of costs.
The company also serves as a technical advisor to the TBM Council, a global non-profit organization of more than 2,500 IT leaders. The Council developed the IT COST Commission, which is looking to adopt a taxonomy of cost across the federal government. “It’s essentially taking a taxonomy and determining if this will be useful for federal government and then building a standard around it,” Chartol said.
Harnessing the power of the TBM taxonomy, Apptio can provide CIOs with a business management system that provides a significant advantage in their FITARA implementation.
“The advantage of leveraging Apptio and TBM is having the ability to drive a greater understanding for each set of stakeholders in the decisions that they’re trying to make and being able to classify cost in those decisions,” Chartol said.
Rather than various IT stakeholders approaching investments from different perspectives, the unified TBM approach enables them to use cost information to drive IT reforms.