I have been thinking a lot about Technology Business Management (TBM) lately.
The approach the federal government is taking to roll out TBM is reasoned and reasonable. I came to this realization while moderating a panel discussion with federal government leaders from OPM, GSA, DOE, PTO and VA. Instead of mandating the implementation of TBM, OMB is suggesting that agencies look at how to implement TBM, working with them to identify best practices and building a “playbook” for the rollout. Since it is not a mandate, the most forward-thinking agencies are taking the lead, and helping GSA and OMB as part of the learning process.
To me, this is a very reasoned approach, which recognizes that the unique aspects of rolling out a program across the federal government. It is sometimes very frustrating for those of us in private industry to witness how hard it is for the federal government to implement an improvement, especially one as significant and as complex as Technology Business Management. I think it will eventually become a mandate, and I think most of those in the federal government watching this are expecting it to be mandated. When it finally becomes a mandate, the “playbook” will be mature and full of lessons learned and best practices. It will be something that agencies can use to accelerate the success of TBM across their organization.
The transparency of IT spending will improve greatly when TBM is implemented across the federal government. Standardization of IT data will encourage organizations to benchmark their spending compared to other federal organizations and even commercial ones. At cBEYONData, we see this as a huge opportunity for us to help the federal government by automating and standardizing the way financial IT data is captured and reported. It is similar in many respects to the way federal organizations have standardized financial data in order to comply with the DATA Act. For the DATA Act, we integrated automated data checks and processes that has helped our clients stay on top of data quality, so that what is reported is accurate and timely.
The hardest aspect of implementing TBM, in my opinion, will be allocating cost and hours accurately. We built a TBM solution in our CFO Control Tower by bucketing cost into the IT Towers using already available reference data such as the Transaction Code and PSC. This gave us nice analytics and dashboards, but the bucketing process was manual and done with assumptions that may not be appropriate. In order for the results to be highly accurate, the “bucketing” needs to be done as early in the process as possible, ideally at the time the cost or hours are recorded. For example, when a government employee enters her time, she should select the proper code that will map to the appropriate Technology Business Management taxonomy. Of course, we all know how hard it is to get everyone to enter their time using the right project codes, so this becomes a management challenge as well. Imagine if she worked on several Towers over the course of a day? How is that accurately captured?
There are definitely solutions to do this accurately. Commercial businesses are doing it now, and the work OMB and GSA are doing to develop the “playbook” for implementing TBM will provide guidance that will help ensure accurate data. And, of course, companies like cBEYONData will be helping the federal government along the way, providing our expertise to reduce the administrative burden TBM will add. I am definitely excited about our role in this process, and think the automation capabilities contained in the CFO Control Tower are a perfect match for TBM. And as a taxpayer, I am especially excited to see the results Technology Business Management will provide. Let’s get it done!
Michael Huffman is the Vice President of Sales at cBEYONData and will be leading the company’s TBM efforts. He has been with the company since July 2017. During his 28-year career, Mr. Huffman has spent over 18 years building, growing and managing organizations, programs and projects. He has extensive experience with consulting services delivery, including successfully winning and managing Firm Fixed Price and Time and Materials contracts.