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CMS Cloud Dashboards Get Revamp with Human-Centered Design

HCD is improving CMS’s tools for cloud cost transparency and operational excellence.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is creating online tools developed with human-centered design to help the agency develop “cost transparency and operational excellence” across its cloud capabilities.

CMS IT officials presented revamped tools they produced to help manage internal cloud solutions and adoption during Tuesday’s CMS Tech Topics event. The session looked at the agency’s new “Estimation at Completion,” or EAC 2.0 Project, which is helping the agency improve upon accuracy, timelines and clarity of cost estimates and associated budgets and contracting processes with cloud capabilities. The session also discussed the CMS cloud portal, a one-stop-shop for informational needs from initial interest in cloud adoption to operational support.

“We are focused on cloud cost optimization, bringing awareness to our community, as over the last couple years [the] cloud program has exponentially grown, as well as we have been onboarding a lot of our customers to the cloud,” said Ketan Patel of the CMS Cloud Team.

Patel’s team presented the EAC 2.0, an internal dashboard for CMS business and system owners to help realize four different areas of cloud cost in their cloud implementation and management practices, including measurement and accountability, cost optimization, planning and forecasting of customer needs and cloud financial operations.

“This is where we want complete transparency for our customers into all of their costs from the account and resource level so that they can actually see completely everything within their project on all of its operational costs,” Cloud Team Member Jerry Kuhn said about the operational model for cloud financial management.

CMS currently uses cloud services as a platform for common services to maintain its various cloud environments, security and support, Kuhn added. With EAC 2.0, project owners can forecast and track estimated costs per cloud project based on the allocated contract funding budget amount, EAC 2.0 Product Owner Sheeja Holt said.

CMS applied human-centered design to its approach in developing EAC 2.0 and is still looking to enhance features of the dashboard based on end-user research. Down the pipeline, the project will also look to apply more cost estimation and forecasting tools, conduct stronger cost optimization outreach on best practices and spread education and an awareness series of office hours for vendor partners.

While the agency continues working on EAC 2.0, CMS has also revamped with improved end-user experience and design. After working with a human-centered design team of experts, the team created a portal that had better ease of use, information architecture improvements and a new content management system with a distributed publishing model to support broad informational customer needs.

“We now have an efficient, distributed content publishing model, a higher quality build and more scalable operations, as well as a more visually engaging site,” said Katherine Brewer, the portal’s product owner. “As a result, customer experiences drastically improved. We’ve updated the visual look of the site by adding engaging visual elements and made the content user friendly and easily accessible by adding filtering.”

Brewer and her team also updated the navigation and topic categories to contribute to the better findability of the website, she added.

Throughout the modernization of these dashboards and portals, as well as any cloud implementation at CMS, Patel said that human-centered design has been at the core of this work.

“HCD has been heavily involved in anything and everything we do on the cloud over the last year and a half,” Patel said. “We actually have HCD researchers who actually interview our customers at a different level. … Anything we build is also based on research. Also anything we offer is also based on research. That has been a pretty integral part of it, and … we actually take customer feedback a lot.”

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