Forest Path

The Path Forward: Becoming Customer-Centric

If you've ever hiked a trail, you’ll know it's important to start off in the right direction.

The first step toward becoming customer-centric is facing the right direction – the customer. This allows an agency to understand the needs of its users and how to best cater to them.

The Treasury Financial Manual (TFM) is Treasury’s official source of policies, procedures, and instructions for financial management in the federal government and financial management practitioners across the government look to it for guidance.

The TFM should be more than just a document; it should be a critical piece of an agency’s daily financial success. But, in its current state, it is difficult to navigate and challenging to understand.

To reform the TFM, FIT is taking steps to make the TFM more customer-centric. In our first step here is what we learned

1. Agencies want to be heard.

As a part of the TFM reform, FIT hosted over 350 TFM users in a series of focus groups to gather feedback and solicit suggestions for improvement. We learned that the TFM users are diverse. Some users are accountants looking specifically for US Standard General Ledger (USSGL) guidance, while others are financial managers looking for guidance on disbursements.

Given their various job titles and wide variety of experiences, the users wanted to tell us how they used the TFM and how changes to the TFM impact their day-to-day roles. They had ideas for improvement, and all they needed was the opportunity to share their voice.

2. Agencies know their challenges best.

The original focus of the TFM reform project was to identify redundant /or outdated content that could be removed. Through an internal analysis, FIT found opportunities to remove unnecessary and duplicative guidance and expected the focus group participants to focus on removing specific chapters.

Although they did confirm that there is burdensome guidance and some of it is duplicative, their main difficulty centered on using the TFM. They told us that the TFM is unorganized, difficult to navigate, and challenging to understand. TFM users did not want less guidance, but they wanted guidance that was easy to find and simple to understand so they could use the TFM more efficiently.

3. Being customer-centric aligns with the FM Vision.

Treasury's new 10-year FM vision seeks to enable agencies to focus on their mission through greater efficiencies in financial management. The TFM is a Treasury-focused document, organized by the Fiscal Service business areas rather than end-to-end business processes.

Transforming the TFM toward a customer-centric view will lead toward its more effective use, and enable agencies to spend less time and resources on financial management activities and more on their mission. This is directly aligned to the FM Vision and will allow the Bureau to better understand and serve the needs of the TFM users.

Partnering with the agencies to take a customer-centric approach to reforming the TFM is important, because agencies know their challenges best and want to share their ideas for improvement. The TFM is a living document and there will always be improvements and updates needed.

As FIT looks to make those improvements, we’ll be looking toward the financial management community to point us in the right direction to create a document that is easy to navigate and understand, and provides updates to agencies in a timely and efficient manner.

Stay tuned as we continue our path and take the next steps.

Quick References

OMB 16-11, Improving Administrative Functions Through Shared Services

Circular No. A-123 Appendix D, Compliance with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of l996

OMB M 13-08, Improving Financial Systems Through Shared Services

OMB M 10-26, Immediate Review of Financial Systems IT Projects

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