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Submission #62

Submission information
Submitted by Mark Karkenny
Tue, 01/15/2019 - 7:01pm

Modernization Innovation can come in Small (IT Portfolio) Packages

In our previous blog, Innovate IT or Lose IT, we recommended a “Think Big, Act Small” approach to successful IT Modernization. We see that Government Accountability Office (GAO) is like-minded when they noted that agencies using the “big bang” approach-broad scope, delivered over years, reported poor results. So, it’s no surprise that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires agencies to use incremental development to deliver functionality every 6 months.  Unlike the broad-scoped “big bang” implementations of yore, there is another, better “big bang” enabled by the combination of Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) and the Management of Government Technology Act (MGT Act). That is the focus on a single enterprise view. That’s the Think Big enterprise-wide context that allows for more impactful, lower risk, incremental implementation.  Think Big; Act Small.

It’s a good sign that not only the policies, but also the practices and reporting requirements for FITARA 7.0 and MGT are converging. That means we are looking at the measures that matter; the measures that give us insight to transform effectively.  After only a short time in execution, the MGT Act has given agencies new options to “jump start” their incremental modernization initiatives with multiple funding strategies, such as investment from the Technology Modernization Fund and creation of Working Capital Funds for IT Modernization.  FITARA continues to enable IT modernization initiatives.  For example, FITARA’s PortfolioStat measures support agency portfolio rationalization. This helps agencies focus on a “big picture” strategic plan to modernize and consolidate applications and data, and as importantly, what systems to “turn off”.  [See the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council Legacy Modernization Report]

We are seeing the call for CXO-level insight into the current and proposed mission value associated with investment in technology.  Agencies’ IT portfolios can be optimized for the good of the enterprise and positioned for Modernization.  At agency level, portfolios overlap business applications-some old, some new, some tightly coupled and some loosely coupled- and all vary widely in terms of existing documentation and software maintainability, and varying degrees of security maturity. The question is how to prioritize the available sustainment dollars when updating the applications portfolio: Rationalize first? Modernize first? Add new mission functionality first? 

The critical first step is to conduct a top-down, bottom-up analysis of the existing portfolio from multiple perspectives: financial, business, functional and technical. Map the application portfolio components to the tactical and strategic business objectives and produce a roadmap for incremental modernization.  The roadmap can illuminate and confirm priorities among multiple stakeholders with modernization dispositions – to decommission/retire, remediate re-platform, consolidate, or enhance applications.  “Modernization is now the mission” for agencies as “mature legacy applications” consume over 85% the IT Budget. Effective IT Modernization support the mission through significant savings from reduction in operations costs, through improved time to mission value, a through reduced development costs and through streamlined, more agile portfolio size.

The rationalized, right-sized IT portfolio is critical to unlock needed enterprise agility –unlocking funds and innovative approaches for better mission delivery. It is an essential tool to “think big” about the mission context for IT, and “act small” with surgical strike investments that drive needed modernization.

Stu Hammer, ACT-IAC IT Management & Modernization Community of Interest Industry Chair, and Senior Director, Applications Offering & Advisory Services, Perspecta
Judy Douglas, ACT-IAC Institute for Innovation Chair, and Client Industry Executive, Perspecta

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