LMI’s Lynne Hamilton-Jones and Paul Fulcher explain technology business management (TBM) and how this methodology helps federal agencies manage their IT assets and operations.
1. TBM is a foundational set of principles for IT portfolio management.
Just as generally accepted accounting principles bring transparency and clarity to an organization’s financial information, TBM does the same to help stakeholders understand an organization’s IT porfolio, particularly in terms of cost efficiency relative to performance. “It helps everyone speak the same language,” Hamilton-Jones said.
Using the TBM framework and methodology, LMI optimizes clients’ portfolios to help agencies address unique IT resource challenges. “Our approach is to look at the entire portfolio of a federal agency—from software and applications to hardware and subscribed services—and communicate that picture to CIO and CFO offices, program management offices, and enterprise architecture and governance teams. We articulate costs back to leaders so that they understand how they’re consuming IT, then help them identify trade-off decisions between cost and performance,” Fulcher said.
2. TBM helps organizations capture “shadow IT.”
TBM gives leaders a comprehensive picture of an agency’s IT resources and acquisitions in their entirety—not just those purchased within the offices traditionally aligned with IT. Bringing shadow IT to light is one of the biggest benefits of TBM implementation.
“Providing transparency into the entire IT lifecycle and identifying shadow IT is huge,” Hamilton-Jones said. “IT may have been bought individually by different components of the organization but isn’t being tracked. TBM enables leaders at the enterprise level to see it all.”
Reducing or realigning shadow IT helps an agency optimize its portfolio and find cost savings to address other resource challenges.
3. Better decision-making—not compliance—is the desired end state of TBM.
TBM is firmly established in corporate environments, as most Fortune 500 organizations have implemented the approach over the last 10–15 years. The federal sector, by comparison, is nascent. Although the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the White House introduced TBM a few years ago, many federal agencies have approached it as a compliance obligation, leaving potential benefits unexplored. Federal leaders are trying to change this stance.
“TBM is not just compliance reporting—it’s about making good decisions in every aspect of agency technology,” said Department of Education CIO Jason Gray and General Services Administration CIO David Shive in a March 13, 2019, post on CIO.gov.
Many agencies are grappling with how to add value through TBM, Fulcher said. “There’s a sense of, ‘I’m complying with OMB but what am I getting out of this?’” he said. “The ultimate goal is not to look at it from a compliance perspective but as a tool for identifying cost composition of your IT portfolio services, applications, and projects, from which you can derive cost estimates and perform benchmarking analysis. For instance, when looking at migrating my agency’s data to the cloud, I should understand how much I’m spending for onsite servers and storage before I consider cloud vendors and compare prices. TBM offers insight that drives better business decisions.”
4. TBM is scalable. Agencies can implement more complex phases when ready.
Some agencies are more mature in their IT portfolio management than others. Those that feel less equipped to implement TBM, or don’t feel they have the budget to do so effectively, often focus on immediate compliance concerns.
This shouldn’t stop agencies from taking the next step, Hamilton-Jones said. If executive leaders are committed to the approach, TBM can be tailored to the organization’s maturity level and unique mission.
“If there’s buy-in from the CIO and CFO, the issues of how long TBM takes and how much it costs are areas where we can help,” she said, adding some functions can be done manually and then escalate to automation as the organization becomes more mature.
Fulcher noted that many TBM tasks undertaken by agencies to meet OMB compliance lay the groundwork for next steps. “We structure the cost model, discover where data sits throughout the CIO’s office, compile and tag authoritative data sets, and align them to the TBM taxonomy,” he said. “With that foundation, we start those real value-add conversations through increasing transparency into cost drivers. The goal is to gain a better understanding of cost structure, manage operation and maintenance costs, and move your agency in a direction to accomplish IT goals that serve the mission. This could include identifying the service delivery components you want to modernize or enhance.”
5. The best lessons of TBM implementation aren’t found in books.
One advantage of an in-person TBM training like the TBM Council’s Executive Foundation Course is becoming engaged with the broader community of practice.
“The experience and best practices of the instructors is so valuable. You’re getting a lot of the lessons learned that you may not see in a book or online,” Hamilton-Jones said. “If you have questions specific to your agency, you can ask instructors and other attendees who have implemented TBM on some level.”
Fulcher added, “People are open about how they would have implemented TBM differently. You learn the importance of having executive sponsorships, having all the right stakeholders in the room, and the intricacies of what an implementation looks like. It’s insightful to hear from people who have been through that journey. Learning about the broader resources of the TBM Council and that community of practice is tremendous.”