As part of the 2012 Fiscal Year National Defense Authorization Act, the Department of Defense is bringing further visibility to the money it spends on business systems through increased portfolio management, according to DOD Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer Dave Wennergren.
In a recent interview, Wennergren said his office has worked with leaders across DOD as part of the Defense Business Council’s review of 1,200 business systems totaling more than $7 billion in department investments.
DOD’s new investment management process aims to ensure that investments are aligned to strategies, allow the department to make more informed investment decisions, eliminate legacy systems that are no longer required and enhance interoperability. The process also looks to help the department transform to an environment where business applications are able to be rapidly deployed on a common computing infrastructure.
“The new IRB process ensures that we talk first about business goals and outcomes, and then describe how individual IT investments will be used to enable and support those outcomes,” said Wennergren, noting that the portfolio focus also helps to identify business systems that no longer provide value for their cost. Wennergren also stressed the importance of the department’s strategic management plan, with a new version being released next summer.
“The beauty of the strategic management plan is that it is collaboratively developed by the department’s senior leaders and establishes goals for business operations linked to the department’s overarching strategic goals and objectives. Department leaders are working together to align and improve business operations while also ensuring the effective use of limited financial resources.”
Going forward, Wennergren said the department will need to be adept at both managing large enterprise resource planning systems while also being focused on new technological approaches.
“Future solutions will be much more modular and take advantage of technology changes like service-oriented architecture, web 2.0 and the cloud,” Wennergren said. “To maintain speed and agility, it will be crucial to put into place open architecture and standards and ensure that the department moves towards a common platform upon which applications can be built.”
He said the department’s CIO is working on a joint information environment that will help make this vision a reality.
Another priority, Wennergren said, is the department’s focus on ensuring that business process reengineering has been conducted before new technology solutions are implemented.
“Understanding and optimizing a business process is a crucial and mandatory first step before we invest in an IT solution,” he said.
An example provided by Wennergren is the health IT partnership between DOD and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The two departments were faced with a complex issue: how to provide military personnel and veterans with a common medical record that is accessed and used throughout their lives.
“Before the acquisition team is allowed to go buy a health IT solution, teams of clinicians and process change experts review, align and improve the business processes of the two departments,” Wennergren said. “With a focus on process optimization first, we will be able to ensure that we deliver quality care to our personnel while also minimizing the cost and complexity of implementing health IT solutions.”