Template tool helps agencies make their case, vendor says

OMB Exhibit 300, the capital asset plan and business case document that agencies must present to the Office of Management and Budget to win funding for their projects, has taken on heightened importance this budget season.

Agencies have been calling on vendors so often for help writing their business cases that one vendor, Robbins-Gioia LLC of Alexandria, Va., has customized a special Business Case Analysis template tool.

'We started out fixing up what our client agencies had started,' said Patricia Davis-Muffett, a Robbins-Gioia vice president. 'But we reached a point where we had to help them find actual data for the OMB 300s. The agencies with good program management already had data. Others had to come up with a program management structure first.'

Match game

Taking care of that preliminary need saves time and effort, she said, because many agencies 'did the business case without project plans, got halfway through and then found the plans wouldn't match up with the business case.'

Preliminary project management 'saves lots of time and makes the business case much more powerful and likely to get approval,' Davis-Muffett said. 'But it must show real data'how long the project will last, the cost, the return on investment, when ROI will be realized, potential risks and risk mitigation.'

Plug and play

Sometimes an agency has historical data for similar projects or can borrow from other agencies' experiences, she said. Such data, plus milestones from Microsoft Project and standard wording about agency mission, security, privacy and other unchanging components, can be plugged directly into the ProSight portfolio manager from ProSight Inc. of Portland, Ore. It runs under Microsoft Windows.

Robbins-Gioia customized ProSight with templates for OMB 300 filings. The cost ranges from $100,000 to $500,000, depending on the number of projects and whether an agency needs additional hardware or software for project management, Davis-Muffett said.

An agency can buy and own its ProSight implementation or get a temporary license for the software or even do the work on paper, she said.

But Davis-Muffett advised, 'Don't just fix the business case for this year. You'll be stuck next year.'

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