Insight by AchieveIt

The best tool CIOs can use to improve FITARA scores: Integrated Plan Management Software

This content is provided by AchieveIt.

The July 2020 Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard showed the best results yet; no agency received an overall failing grade. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t facing challenges when it comes to managing IT Modernization efforts. Of the 24 agencies graded, 14 did not improve on their score from 2019, and 3 actually dropped one letter grade.

One of the main reasons progress has lagged across agencies is due to the tools and processes being used today. Work is often siloed across several teams and tools; making it very difficult to achieve uniformity in reporting and gain the visibility needed to drive world-class execution. It’s visibility that’s so desperately needed to drive progress across all of FITARA’s seven areas of reform.

That’s where Integrated Plan Management software can help. It’s designed to help leadership effectively manage mission-critical initiatives by, establishing uniformity in data collection and reporting, creating the visibility to know what needs attention, and promoting accountability for world class execution.  Integrated Plan Management Software far surpasses many tools such as Project Management Software in its flexibility and scope.

“Project management software has a place for organizations that need a specific level of detail. If you need to know the granular level of a particular project, these systems do a great job of zooming in,” said Joe Krause, vice president of customer engagement at AchieveIt. “What sets us apart is that our system does a great job of zooming out. So at a 30,000-foot level, as an organization, if we have five priorities, with key performance indicators dedicated to each of them, how are they performing? Project management software is not designed to answer that. It’s designed to zoom in. Zooming out, though, is the major blind spot for most organizations.”

To realize best results towards IT modernization efforts and improve FITARA scores, CIOs need a system that can deliver that big picture view of how their top priorities, and the initiatives that support them, are tracking. Integrated Plan Management Software empowers leadership to make the timely and informed decisions that eliminate surprises when it comes time for the next FITARA scorecard evaluation.

“One of the biggest challenges organizations face is that they develop too many things to work on. I’ve seen thousands of plans in every industry you can think of, and very rarely are they compact, specific documents,” Krause said. “They’re just overarching and too big. And the main reason I think is, many times, they are not aligned to the purpose of why that plan exists. Our system makes it very simple to outline what’s important.”

That’s important, because it allows CIOs to focus specifically on the metrics and improvements that will help them improve their FITARA scores without getting overwhelmed or sidetracked by the sheer scale of IT modernization efforts. Too much planning inevitably leads to too little action, and complexity is often the enemy of progress.

Integrated Plan Management software also helps simplify and streamline accountability in an organization. One common mistake in planning is that leadership assigns a task to multiple people, without settling the accountability on a single person. Absent this necessary structure and authority, collaboration becomes much more difficult.

It also eliminates barriers to collaboration by putting the plans, tools and processes under the same umbrella, so no one has to hunt down a specific Excel or PowerPoint document or SharePoint site.

“Basically, any barrier to people participating in a process that you put out there, is just going to make them turn off to the process and go back to doing what they normally were doing,” Krause said. “In many cases, what they were normally doing was leading to scores that you’re not so happy about. So basically, the goal here is to create a process that’s simple and leaves the person that you’re asking to participate with no reason to rebel against it.”

Likewise, updates and reporting are simplified and automated. The software automatically integrates progress updates into dashboards and reports to keep the C-suite updated. It’s as easy as replying to an email, with no need to remember another login and password. And it eliminates the problem of versions; you always have the latest, most up-to-date information at your fingertips without any concern that there’s another, more recent version of the plan floating around somewhere.

“Uniformity is something that most organizations struggle with. If you give somebody an Excel file, they’re going to modify it, they’re going to change things,” Krause said. “With our system, we have templates that allow you to upload the standard work that needs to happen for respective area that you’re working on. And that way, there’s no ambiguity, everybody’s planning in the same way at the same level of detail.”

That also includes progress against benchmarks, meaning agencies can easily see how they stack up against their FITARA goals, and the ways individual efforts contribute to that progress.

“Nothing frustrates a transformation effort more than people thinking, ‘Nobody’s even looking at this anyway; I’m wasting my time,’” Krause said. “So leadership has to hold themselves accountable to making sure that their organization knows they’re using the data. If you’re going to ask your people to buy in, you better buy in as well, by using the data in your meetings and making a visual, public record of it.”

Click here to learn how you can utilize Integrated Plan Management to streamline your organization.