Executing A Well-Crafted, Data-Based Business Case
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Executing A Well-Crafted, Data-Based Business Case

Simon Szykman, CIO, Department of Commerce
Simon Szykman, CIO, Department of Commerce

Simon Szykman, CIO, Department of Commerce

Data are being used in a variety of ways to identify opportunities and support implementation of various efficiencies initiatives. One reason for the importance of data in supporting such initiatives is the need for objective business cases to support decision-making. At a high level, a well-crafted, data-based business case can be effective in helping to obtain support from senior leadership for changes in how IT is being acquired and managed at the Commerce Department. But beyond assisting in obtaining buy-in, a business case can also help in designing a service consolidation, right-sizing consolidated services based on historical usage of existing services, estimating cost savings, and providing projections of costs of new services to customers.

A second reason is that when it comes to opportunities for savings, we are not limited by the number of ideas we have, but rather the number of opportunities we are able to pursue given limitations on staffing and other resources. Thus, we gather and analyze data about spending volumes and pricing levels for various information technology products in order to identify those where we can expect the greatest return on investment for resources invested into a new savings initiative, such as a strategic sourcing contracting contract for PDF authoring software or networking equipment.

Once a decision has been made to undertake a new savings initiative, data can often support decision-making regarding what acquisition strategy to take. For example, once a decision had been made to consolidate the Commerce Department’s 100+ contracts for purchasing personal computers (PCs) into a single Department-wide contract, working with the Commerce bureaus to gather information on existing PC rollouts and requirements, a decision was made to standardize on a single vendor for the new consolidated contract. This contract led to significant savings of up to 30-35 percent for each PC purchased since the contract was put in place. In contrast, when a decision was made to implement centralized purchasing of endpoint protection (e.g., anti-virus) software, an analysis of existing endpoint protection requirements and implementations across Commerce suggested that there may be some obstacles to standardizing on a single product, and therefore a set of blanket purchase agreements were put in place to provide bureaus with centralized acquisition vehicles for any one of three different products that were in use across the majority of Commerce.

And finally, once various efficiencies initiatives have been implemented, data are also used to document the actual dollar savings associated with those initiatives.

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