The Problem Statement
In many public sector organizations, information technology (IT) planning and support functions are expected to act as gears, engineered to deliver effective technical capabilities at efficient price points. Strategic planning, portfolio management (including capital planning), and enterprise architecture for example are expected to work together as a well-integrated machine to deliver maximum value to the mission.
The reality for many organizations is that the ‘gears’ are more like clouds of activity, passing through each other occasionally for periodic events such as budget formulation or external data calls. Even when one area is operating effectively, it’s often akin to a disengaged gear, spinning efficiently in isolation, failing to impact the overall machine that is IT delivery.
One major inhibitor in transforming the clouds into gears is the differing, competing, and sometimes conflicting frameworks and nomenclature used across IT sub-organizations. Different lists and definitions of systems, projects, technologies, and investments lead to silos of information built specifically to meet one group’s needs. Often times the nomenclature itself is muddled; systems are called investments by some and projects by others. ‘What do you mean by…’ is frequently heard as one group attempts to answer the needs or data calls of another.
Even when each functional and information model is well understood across various IT organizations, the translation between them is often very difficult or even impossible. For example, project budgets may add up to the investment management group’s ‘DME’ totals but each is comprised of a completely different breakdown of activities. Individual mapping between the two requires manual effort and judgment and therefore getting a definitive, consistent, and accurate answer to ‘what’s going on’ is also impossible.
The end result is little transparency around IT related activities and virtually no line of sight across the organization. In many organizations for example, it is all but impossible to link strategic plans and strategies to what is actually occurring at the system and project level, roll up spending into consistent investment segments, or align activities with mission capabilities.
The reality is different sub-organizations do need different types of information in order to address their respective requirements. These organizations also require the ability to roll up and summarize information differently. What’s truly required is a framework that enables the organization to possess a single information framework that provides sufficient flexibility for each sub-organization to manage, use, and augment the information to meet individual needs without impacting others.
To help organizations establish a single information framework for IT, the ITIF Working Group created a unified model for IT that establishes a single, consistent, and flexible information framework for IT organizations. The IT Information Framework™ (ITIF) acts as a mechanism for helping an organization:
- Create a single definition and inventory of key information elements within their environment (investments, systems, services, projects, etc.)
- Establish consistent relationships between elements (investments are comprised of one or more systems/services, strategies are comprise of one or more activities linked to specific systems/services, etc.)
At the heart of the framework is the creation of a definitive list of ‘services’ delivered by the organization, whether the service is delivered by individuals or by a system that supports a programmatic or administrative requirement. By leveraging ITIF to establish a single consistent information framework, organizations are able to establish true line of sight between their plans and real activities, improve portfolio visibility, and drive greater value from enterprise architecture by linking it directly to the operating environment.