In our previous post, Chris Borneman, vice president for Software AG Government Solutions, shared his thoughts about the push for IT alignment in the federal government. In this post, Borneman tells us what he benefits he sees agencies realizing through IT alignment. He offers these three tips for evaluating vendors.
ModernGov: What is the most important benefit that can accrue from portfolio management and alignment?
Chris Borneman: The most visible shift as a result of IT portfolio management is changing the perception of the IT department. Instead of being seen as ‘just’ the ‘tech guys’, the IT department becomes a trusted partner, that has an equal stake in the agency meeting its mission. With this collaborative approach each team is able to focus on their task, but with a collective understanding of the impacts, risks, and constraints. An effective IT portfolio approach will help the most important projects rise to the top of the priority list, it will also de-risk and de-conflict the strategic projects, and align an increasing portion of an overall decreasing budget to the right investments and help prioritize opportunities to reduce or eliminate costs on areas that are no longer providing the best value to the agency.
ModernGov: What are three tips you would give an agency evaluating a vendor/solution that could help them align IT investments?
CB: First, select a tool that goes beyond producing an inventory of your IT processes and assets. While that is a great first step, the portfolio of IT assets must be tied back to the agency mission and be capable of changing with the evolving mission needs. Your tools should help facilitate those changes by ensuring the right projects are worked first, that the impacts of the project are identified, that conflicts of projects are detected early, and that risks can be managed.
Secondly, choose tools that enable participation across the broadest spectrum of users. Tools that are IT centric will not improve communications with the agency at large if all users cannot use the tool as needed. The tool should allow application stakeholders to directly participate and understand their current state, future state, risks, and changes that may impact them.
And finally, decide on a tool that will grow with you with additional features, and is configurable to your needs. Tools that require substantial customization and introduce complexity to their own upgrade lifecycle should be avoided. Make sure the tool supports the consumption of information from your other systems, and that the data is accessible not just through reporting, but also exporting or direct database querying.