A Whole Community Approach to Technology Business Management (TBM) & Why I Left Government

By Kelly Morrison, Director, Grant Thornton

I’ve always enjoyed collaborating across a wide array of networks on key issues impacting the federal government and its constituents. And I relished my time in government, where I really felt like I was making an impact. That’s why I’m not surprised when people ask me why I left government.

I hadn’t planned to leave my job at USAID. It was there I was finally applying my graduate studies in International Development and Public Administration, as well as my 15 years of portfolio management, monitoring and evaluation experience. The draw of helping federal, state, and local organizations was too hard to resist.

I joined Grant Thornton a few short months ago because I believe there’s a short window to prove the value of Technology Business Management in federal agencies to embed this new way of tracking cost, quality, and value of IT in the way the government does business. The alternative is that the initiative loses traction, we don’t benefit from the investment made to date, and we continue with the tired, old IT Capital Planning & Investment Control (CPIC) process fed with manually reported data that doesn’t align with budget, acquisition and financial management data sources. Agencies will continue to struggle to truly implement the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), and a few years down the road there is another initiative that spins up to address the same gaps that we’ve been trying to address for years – remember IT Infrastructure LoB, and commodity IT categories. I want to support federal agencies, as well as state and local public sector organizations, who hope to achieve value through TBM, doing the right thing with taxpayer dollars, and do it by continuing to collaborate with you! 

Having managed CPIC (IT Budget, IT Investment & Portfolio Management) processes and policy over the past 15 years, I believe TBM is a game changer for the federal government and public sector at large. It will:

    • Provide CIO’s and CXO peers the transparency into IT spending across all components; which will support FITARA implementation and enable strategic IT planning & management;
    • Enable defensible and valuable IT benchmarking within and across organizations;
    • Support, promote and enable IT category management, IT modernization, digitization, the data strategy, and, perhaps most importantly;
    • Serve as a powerful tool for decision making to most effectively support the organization’s mission and allow IT to transform and sustain the way the organization delivers on the mission.

To my former federal colleagues, I understand the challenges agencies face implementing TBM and converging TBM and CPIC so they aren’t parallel efforts, and the TBM data becomes the backbone for the CPIC process. I know it’s critical such data is based on the financial management systems of record so we get an accurate picture of IT spend. You can do it! You can achieve both value for your agency AND a standard approach that helps the whole of government compare IT across silos.

To successfully implement TBM, it’s going to take not just a whole of government approach, but a whole community approach. Government must see industry as a partner and join forces to once and for all standardize implementations. The last thing we need is inconsistent efforts that don’t connect and are not comparable. There are also still questions about how TBM and CPIC should converge, what data the IT dashboard should collect, how or if an “IT Investment” fits in with the TBM taxonomy and Framework, what success looks like, and what roadmap or maturity model should be leveraged to accelerate adoption.

Private sector organizations implementing TBM continue to achieve great value. Some federal agencies are achieving value in their own way; others are taking a very compliance-based approach. No one sees value in complying for compliance sake. Why? Compliance infers a checkbox, a one and done scenario ~ the opportunity exists for TBM to be so much more and I want to help prove the value.

As a public servant, I saw the importance of public-private partnerships and how government contractors bring so much to the table to support small and large scale efforts. We’re at a point in time in which the stars are aligned. There is a standard best practice for IT financial management. Technology exists to automate data extraction from various solutions to get a handle on the immense IT data in a standard way that supports improved decision-making, IT enabling agency missions, and transforming the way agencies deliver on their mission. As I thought about where I could have the biggest impact to help the federal effort and not miss the opportunity while the stars are aligned, I landed on private sector, and Grant Thornton specifically – due to the quality of GT’s quality TBM services already underway and their public sector reach to federal, state, local and global organizations. I’m here with a strong passion to deliver value.

I’m confident we can do this if we work together. And I’m confident it’s worth doing. 

I’m looking for partners in this journey wherever I can find them. Who’s In? We need passionate talented team members! Implementing or what to implement TBM and want to talk about service support solutions? Want to join our team here at Grant Thornton? Looking for a dynamic team to partner with to provide value-focused services to organizations? Just let me know of your interest!

There’s lots of work to be done and together we can make a difference. Let’s get to it!

In continued partnership,

Kelly Morrison