TBM: Improving How our Government Manages IT Spending

Data Standards

TBM: Improving How our Government Manages IT Spending

Guest blog post by Michael Huffman, Vice President of Sales cBEYONData. 

I have been thinking a lot about Technology Business Management (TBM)* lately – reflecting on how the federal government has chosen to encourage, rather than mandate, TBM standards and on the inherent challenges associated with TBM.  

Instead of mandating the implementation of the standards, OMB recommends that agencies look at how to implement TBM internally and is working with them to identify best practices. The identified methods will set the groundwork for  a “playbook” during the rollout. After listening to the perspectives of representatives from OPM, GSA, DOE, PTO, and VA during a panel I moderated recently, my appreciation for this phase of the rollout deepened.

Experience tells me that the TBM will eventually become a mandate. Most in the federal government watching the process take root expect it to become so. When that happens, the “playbook” will be full of lessons learned and best practices, and 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 view 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 agencies have standardized their financial data in order to comply with the DATA Act of 2014. For the DATA Act, cBEYONData integrated automated data checks and processes to help 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. For example, when a government employee enters her time, she should select the proper code that will map to the appropriate TBM 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?

One method that we at cBEYONData employed was to bucket costs into the IT Towers using available reference data, such as the Transaction Code and PSC, to create a TBM solution in our CFO Control Tower. The result was a nice dashboard and useful analytics. The process was more labor intensive than we would expect for future uses, and we began bucketing after the data had been entered. 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. I am 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 TBM will provide.

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 TBM. 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.  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.

*The Technology Business Management (TBM) framework sets a standard for government IT spending and investment costs. Having an associated TBM taxonomy equips organizations with a coalescing tool that integrates data from budget, acquisition, finance, and IT reports. Read more about the TBM from the Office of the Chief Information Officer, here.