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New Tool Helps CMS Customers Tie Business Value to Cloud

The agency’s cloud migration strategy is aligning business values and customers’ needs.

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As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) transitions more functions to the cloud, it implemented a new financial management tool to align its business values and objectives.

“We need to understand the state of CMS cloud as a context,” said Mark Oh, director of the Infrastructure and User Services Group at CMS’ Office of Information Technology (OIT), at a CMS industry event earlier this month. “We are not talking about if systems or applications are going to migrate or operate in CMS cloud … The heavy discussion really is when and how those types of migrations and operations will take place, which shows the maturity that we have achieved from overarching CMS cloud perspectives.”

CMS has transformed its technology strategy and cloud migration to align with business values and customers’ needs over the past few years, said Ketan Patel, a cloud and technology advisor at CMS.

“Our objective is that our customers come here and build applications, not worry about all the buying and reduce that cost for them. Those are the common services we have built,” Patel said. “We work collaboratively to make sure our processes are streamlined, and the cloud services we provide take the burden away from our customers.”

The new financial management tool, called Estimation at Completion (EAC 2.0), is a web-based, in-house tool CMS created for its business components and partners that enables more informed decision-making as customers migrate to the cloud. And with CMS’ portal, cloud customers can obtain additional support, education and marketing at a single point of entry.

“These tools are more self-service-driven for our customers to estimate their cost in advance, so they are coming prepared when they actually want to get onboarded to our cloud platform,” Patel said.

The tool also enables CMS and its customer to realize how cloud cost and optimization align with business values and objectives. This meshes with the necessary goal of tying all new technologies to value. Once a customer has onboarded the cloud, the EAC 2.0 tool outlines cost optimization and management.

“All of this was derived from direct input with our engagement with the business owners, their pain points and what they needed to successfully migrate and operate in the cloud environment,” Oh said.

In further iterations of the tool, CMS aims to apply more cost estimation and forecasting tools, conduct stronger cost optimization outreach on best practices and spread education.

“If the application teams or business owners do not take corrective active actions based on the efficiency and optimization recommendations that are made within the tool, that is also a good indicator for what we need to do to shore up those debts. It could be because they don’t understand what those recommendations are, and then it gives us a to do list to improve our engagement,” Oh said.

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