Summary

A DoD Agency had a challenge in clearly identifying business systems that fulfilled mandatory federal financial requirements, support production of the Agency’s financial statements, and allow the Agency to achieve its goal of receiving  an unqualified audit opinion.

Challenge

A DoD Agency was enmeshed in a complex environment with multiple accounting systems, deeply layered organizational dependencies and various non-standard business processes. The Agency’s business architecture was routinely used to support IT portfolio management activities, such as developing high-level IT investment plans for individual systems. However, the Agency faced challenges in planning initiatives that spanned cross-functional areas.  The Agency’s business architecture was siloed within core business functions and not representative of its frequent reliance on cross-functional dependencies.

Additionally, the DoD Agency was struggling to identify and manage financial business systems that supported financial accounting and requirements under the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA).

Alta Via Consulting was engaged to meet this challenge and identify both direct and indirect relationships of business systems that supported financial management, accounting and reporting.  Moreover, Alta Via recognized that the Agency needed to fill a critical gap in the portfolio management process by establishing a governance framework, not constrained by individual ownership, but more holistically according to the recognized impacts to financial statement auditability.

Alta Via Consulting immediately began assessing the existing business architecture, identifying cross functional dependencies between Financial and non-Financial business processes.

Approach

A framing assumption established at the onset of the engagement was ensuring that the Agency’s business architecture be built upon authoritative sources to ensure key stakeholder buy-in.  Additionally, a secondary framing assumption was that existing relationships between business systems and process / operations be leveraged to the greatest extent possible, within the maturing business architecture models. To achieve these goals, Alta Via employed a progressive methodology:

  • Architecture Federation and Extension:
    • Employed architecture federation principles to ensure federal reference architecture content could be leveraged in a practicable, applicable and authoritative manner
    • A federated approach enabled an extended architecture that captured and aligned Agency-specific content and recognized operational touchpoints between inbound and outbound information exchanges in the reference content and existing business process modeling.
  • Stakeholder coordination and buy-in across non-Financial Management SMEs to gain approval of the newly established relationships.
  • Reporting and business rules development:
    • Developed and ensured non-financial processes with downstream financial impacts were appropriately tagged in the business architecture, supporting leadership visibility and reporting.
    • Developed custom reporting mechanisms that allowed direct extracts from the business architecture
  • Data Integration
    • Developed a methodology and structure that enabled integration of business architecture and data into various Agency-established portfolio and requirements tracking tools, ensuring consistent financial management requirement tracking progress.

Results

Alta Via Consulting’s revisions to the business architecture enabled the Agency to deliver on the its objective of easily identifying mixed financial business systems and carefully scope in FFMIA requirements.  By building on the existing business architecture, stakeholders recognized where their business processes impacted Agency financials and, as a result, were willing to accept additional mandatory compliance requirements levied upon them.  Additionally, this overhaul enabled the Agency to instate a more structured oversight of business systems previously outside of their purview, with clear justification and buy-in from stakeholders and Leadership.  Alta Via continues to be engaged with the Agency in modernizing its business architecture to meet future IT portfolio management needs.