Xentity recognized on CIO Review list for Most Promising Government Technology Solution and Consulting Providers 2013

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Matt Tricomi

Xentity was recognized on CIO Review list for “20 Most Promising Government Technology Solution and Consulting Providers 2013” list. 

With the advent of internet technologies, there has been a change in the landscape of business processes related to the Federal Government system. But the change hasn’t been easy as it requires constant dedication to move the entire workforce from traditional systems, and getting them to seamlessly adapt to the modern systems. This transition also includes the role of technology consulting providers, whose sole responsibility is to provide a wide spectrum of services in order to help the federal agencies to cope with the changes, in the best possible manner.

As customers and business partners increasingly demand greater empowerment, it is imminent for government companies to seek for improved interactions and relationships in their entire business ecosystems, by enhancing software capabilities for collaboration, gaining deeper customer and market insight and improving process management.

In the last few months, we have looked at hundreds of solution providers and consulting companies, and shortlisted the ones that are at the forefront of tackling challenges related to government industry.

In our selection we looked at the vendor’s capability to fulfill the needs of government companies through the supply of a variety of services that support core business processes of all government verticals, including innovation areas related to advanced technologies and smart customer management. We also looked at the service providers’ capabilities related to the deployment of cloud, Big Data and analytics, mobility, and social media in the specific context of the government business.

We also evaluated the vendors support for government bridging the gap between IT and Operations Technology. We present to you, CIOReview’s 20 Most Promising Government Technology Solution and Consulting Providers 2013.

CIO Review Magazine Full Article on Xentity:

Xentity Corporation: Rapidly Designing The Needed Change In Cost-Cutting Times

By Benita M
Friday, December 6, 2013

 

Benita M

“We always try to believe that leaders want to execute positive change and can overcome the broken system. We are just that naïve,” says Matt Tricomi, Founder of Xentity Corporation in Golden, CO, named for “change your entity” which started on this premise just after 9/11 in 2001.“This desire started in 1999. I was lucky enough to be solution architect on the award winning re-architecture of united.com. It was a major revenue shift from paper to e-ticket, but the rollout included introducing kiosks to airports. Now that was both simple and impactful”. Xentity found their niche in providing these types of transformation in information lifecycle solutions. Xentity started slow, first, in providing embedded CIO and Chief Architect leadership for medium to large commercial organizations. 

Xentity progressed, in 2003, into supporting Federal Government and soon thereafter International to help IT move from the 40-year old cost center model to where the commercial world had successfully transitioned – to a service center. “Our first Federal engagement was serendipitous. Our staff was core support on the Department of the Interior (DOI) Enterprise Architecture team”, Matt recalls on how the program went from “worst to first” after over $65 million in cuts. “We wanted to help turn architecture on its head by focusing on business areas, mission, or segments at a time, rather than attack the entire enterprise from an IT first perspective.” The business transformation approach developed ultimately resulted in being adopted as the centerpiece or core to the OMB Federal Segment Architecture Methodology (FSAM) in 2008.

Xentity focuses on the rapid and strategic design, planning and transformation outreach portion of the technology investment in programs or CIO services. This upfront portion is generally 5 to 10 percent of overall IT spending. Xentity helps address the near-term cost-cutting need while introducing the right multi-year operating concepts and shifts which take advantage of disruptions like Geospatial, Cloud, Big Data, Data Supply Chain, Visualization, and Knowledge Transfer. Xentity helped data.gov overcome eighty percent in budget cut this way. “Healthcare.gov is an unfortunate classic example. If acquisition teams had access to experts to help register risks early on, the procurement could have increased the technically acceptable threshold for success.” 

One success story of Xentity is at United States Geological Survey (USGS). “After completing the DOI Geospatial Services Blueprint, one of several, the first program to be addressed was the largest: USGS National Mapping Program.” This very respected and proud 125-year old program had just been through major reductions in force, and was just trying to catch its breath. “The nation needs this program. The blueprint cited studies in which spending $1 on common “geo” data can spur $8 to $16 in economic development. Google Maps is one of thousands which use this data.” The challenge was to transition a paper map production program to be a data product and delivery services provider. “The effort affected program planning, data lifecycle, new delivery and service models, and road-mapping the technology and human resource plan. We did architecture, PMO, governance, planning, BPR, branding, etc.” Xentity, with its respected TV production capability, even supported high-gloss video production to deal with travel reduction and support communicating the program value and changes with partners and the new administration. This is definitely different than most technology firms. The National Map got back on the radar, increased usage significantly, and is expanding into more needed open data. 

Presently, Xentity is a certified 8(a) small disadvantaged business with multiple GSA Schedules and GWACs (Government Wide Acquisition Contracts). Xentity invested heavily in Federal Business management. Part of providing innovative, pragmatic, and rapid architecture and embedding talent is being able to respond quickly with compliant business management vehicles. Xentity is constantly seeking out the passionate CIOs, Program Directors, Architects, and Managers looking at transformation in this cost-cutting environment. “Sequester, Fiscal Cliff, debt ceiling, continuing resolutions–it’s all tying the hands of the executives who can look at best six months out. They don’t have the time to both re-budget and rapidly design multi-year scenarios to out-year performance drivers and options let alone staff up to speed on the latest disruptions or right innovation. That is where we come in. We start small or as fast or slow as the executive wants or believes their organization can absorb and progress.” 

Top 5 low hanging fruit to not bungle IT Procurement

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IT Procurement as been a hot button issue as one of the largest civilian IT projects – DoD IT-sized in a way – was “bungled” in almost every phase: Cost went 6x original bid, architecture was overly complicated, no system integration concept, no end to end software or data lifecycle management end, and no quality acceptance procedures, criteria, incentive or the like.

We all know some or all those problems. But as the FCW article cites: “Bungled launches didn’t start with HealthCare.gov.” Its everywhere. Its government, commercial, non-profit, everywhere.

Of course, at Xentity we are biased – we believe in take your medicine now approach – design upfront, register and buy back the risks, and then move into agile design, rapid development, and iterative launch as relevancy and the market allows.

FCW notes there is “considerable agreement on how to go about overhauling the procurement system…” but they have some consensus on 5 key actions:

1. Do a better job on defining desired outcomes upfront
2. Improve the training options for the federal acquisition workforce to put them on an even footing with vendors
3. Give agency CIOs more budget authority
4. Avoid lowest price, technically acceptable contracts on large innovation-heavy projects.
5. Use agile development strategically and mainly when a project does not require a log of interaction with legacy systems.

To too our own horn, these are many of the fundamental goals that Xentity staff and solution focuses on. In reply to those five items:

1. This is our main emphasis on the design the concept of operations, and requirements for the SOW, and registering the risks and knowing them ahead before procurement. Still allow vendors the flexibility for logical and technical design, but know upfront the various concepts that may come back and know how to score them
2. our fedbiz.xentity.com business management specialists service integrated with our architecture practice allows us to help bring contracting and procurement specialization into helping understand how vendors who may respond based on market analysi results will respond to certain requirements or solicitation frameworks
3. We are setup to help advise CIOs on enterprise portfolio, architecture, capital planning, and segment adoption of CIO services and solutions
4. We agree that the LPTA method does not work for acquiring design, planning, creative, and solution management services. LPTA beltway experts tend to game the systems by replying to architect positions with application developer rates for architects on initial task order and techincally it is acceptable, and the rates are 30% better. But its a lot like asking a cook, “can you farm?” Technically, the cook probably could, but wouldnt you want someone familiar with the subject matter expertise of agriculture economics, farming lifecycles, key risk and success factors or someone who knows food. The solution ends up costing more as MODS occur, the app developer gets replaced, and government pays the cost for missing deadlines and scope creep.
5. This is a biggie! Marketing hyped up Agile as the “it slices, it dices, it julienne’s!”. It is great for new transaction systems on abstracted solutions. It can be good for some feed ETL or integration. But, when you have an immovable object, it doesnt matter how agile you are. In those cases, you need to conduct architecture design, concept of operation alternative analysis, business case evalution, requirements definition, and register and buy back risk.

All this said, we are very happy to see this attention back onto better design and defin up front. Of course, being in this field, it is always nice to be noticed and knowing we are on the right track. More importantly, we believe it is what is needed and the right thing to do for investing wisely with our citizens or customers money/assets.

Xentity awarded IT IDIQ from State of Colorado

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The State of Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) has awarded to Xentity an IDIQ Master Agreement for business services

This master task order contract (MATOC) is a result of an award under RFP-001-JG-14 for Computer Programming, Consulting Services, and Business Services involving Cloud Solutions. 

In the Fall of 2013, The State of Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) sought proposals to identify Implementation Services (“Implementers”) for business services involving cloud solutions by Salesforce.com, Google, and Perceptive Software (Perceptive), and other emerging technologies. 

  • The award is for an Enterprise Agreement, as a multi-contract award IDIQ
  • base period of 5 years and 5 consecutive 1-year renewal options
  • an initial $10 million maximum contract amount/ceiling.  
  • Task orders can be issued by multiple sponsoring state agencies.

Xentity has previously won and supported contracts for the State of Colorado with the Department of State and has worked closely with the Office of Information Technology.

Xentity’s Services can be ordered from any of the Colorado Agencies via this contract

Scope Include:

  • Task Order Technical Management
  • Agile Project Management
  • Solution Architecture
  • Architecture & Governance Support
  • Cloud Solution Development / Database Support
  • Portal & Development/Database Support
  • Application Development Support
  • Quality Assurance / Customer Support
  • Transition Support
  • Disaster Recovery/COOP Participation
  • Best Practice Group Support/Participation
  • Outreach Strategy and Support

Positions include: Project Manager, Technical Consultants, Architects, Architecture Analysts, Management Analysts, Solution Architects, Enterprise Architects, and Communications specialists for Branding, communications, design, and strategy 

More to come on how to access Xentity services off this contract.

 

IT Footprint Progression in the Federal Government… and the role of Architecture

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In early December 2011, Xentity architects had a chance to discuss future progression with OMB current and former Chief Architects. The following captures some of the concepts discussed for architecture in context of the overall IT progression in Federal Government both looking back at where IT has been, but given current initiatives, but could be further emphasized, integrated, or uncovered moving forward.

PDF: ITProgression-Policy-Arch-Role.pdf

Where IT has been

Organization Information Role

IT originally was built as a Federated cost center. IT moved into Agency Data Centers model for archive/records. Commerce Models of economy drove eGov without migrating IT to Service models. Govt swamped in the T of IT, haven’t got back to the I. 

Trained Workforce

IT Acquisition originally was about financing/leasing federated shared manufactured systems Then Client/Server came, which is solution architecture, and 1000s of stacks came. Acquisition never got trained or linked with EA, and engineering mostly got outsourced

Data Center Footprint

Federated Regional Centers moved to Mission Centers moving to Server Rooms due to 1000s of system configurations. Initial FDCCI will close 1/3 of the portfolio count, but other 2/3s will have high transition costs

Technology Stack

IT stack started monolithic and slowly moved into server tiers then into service components. Though reduced individual system develop. cost, O&M Total Cost of Ownership was ignored and system security and interoperability was low.

Recommendations Discussed

Organization Information Role

– Institutionalized Funding for Enabling G2G IT Services at GSA
– Position G2C Services as High-Available Service Centers
– Focus Mission on Data Services training on Data Lifecycle that allows Private, NGO, Citizens to build on top of
– Increase EA role in support of mission and policy analysts for depth reach back to increase new political appointee effectiveness and limit turnover/ takeover disruption

Trained Workforce

– Position EA as depth knowledge base for acquisition guidance reachback
– Train all 3 workforce components on Performance maturity, Common Stack Architecture, and FEA/FSAM v2
– Establish CIO and EA relationship formerly with Acquisition
– Retire ineffective, existing burden to demonstrate credibility, eating own dog food, and increase success chances

Data Center Footprint

– Increase CMMI/ITIL Requirements to lower O&M
– Continue FDCCI
– Guide 2nd Consolidation Phase through taking advantage of CPIC renewal or new system cycles to assure re-use of new platform or data services in new shared platform environments to avoid simple hardware/system “cowpath” migration

Technology Stack

– Establish a Common Stack Architecture to be cloud managed service platforms by Select Large Agencies, waived Large Programs, and GSA
– Manage a True Common Stack Portfolio definition and implementation status
– Target New Solutions and Existing Systems for collaborative evaluation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOI EA recognized as winner in Excellence in Enterprise Architecture Award Winners at the 2nd Annual Enterprise Architecture Conference

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In 2004, the Department of the Interior Received E-Gov Institute’s  ‘Excellence in Enterprise Architecture’ Award. Our support stated one year after our contract began which started with the DOI receiving notification from OMB stating their IT budget would be cut $65 million because of lack of controls including a “worst” EA program sentiment. It took one year for this team to:

  • Re-use a base methodology from work performed at the Bureau of Land Management to address blueprints in key lines of businesses (i.e., Wildland Fire, Recreation, Law Enforcement and Financial Management). These blueprints identify gaps in Interior’s existing IT portfolio that hamper the successful achievement of goals and objectives, minimize system redundancy and improve data sharing.  
  • Design, stand-up, and manage data gathering a repository to house the DOI system inventory supporting new system inventory policy. For the first time, DOI had its portfolio tracked, mapped to FEA reference models, and mapps to how Security and CPIC tracked their enclaves and investments.
  • Use the information and bluerprints to help identify gaps in Interior’s existing IT portfolio that hamper the successful achievement of goals and objectives, minimize system redundancy and improve data sharing. This helped outline a roadmap for leveraging information technology to meet strategic and programmatic goals and objectives efficiently and effectively.  

These Enterprise Architecture portfolio and analysis management strategies helped for dealing with shrinking budgets while improving services to citizens and its business partners

Applicants for the Award were asked to answer the following questions:

What Customers Are you serving?

The Department of the Interior (DOI) manages one of every five acres of land in theUnited States, providing opportunities for wilderness, wildlife protection, recreation, and natural resource exploration, development and use. Key customers of the Interior Enterprise Architecture (IEA) are DOI executives and managers as well as the general public and Interior’s business partners.  Tangible benefits to these customers are being realized through the development of modernization blueprints that align IT planning and expenditures to achieve strategic and programmatic goals via architectural analyses.  For example, in 2004 DOI partnered with its recreation business managers to develop a Recreation Modernization Blueprint that identified a number of legacy redundant recreation reservation systems that originally were not slated for consolidation into the President’s Management Agenda Recreation One-Stop E-Gov initiative.  Through the approved blueprint, these systems will now be consolidated into the Recreation One-Stop target solution, resulting in a unified inventory of recreation opportunities for the citizen and cost savings to DOI and our partners.  In addition, to improve on-line amenities and trip planning through Recreation One-Stop, the modernization blueprint defined future system interfaces with existing DOI applications (e.g., trails, facilities, and river databases) which will provide recreationists more robust information about Interior-managed parks and monuments.  Under the IEA program, a modernization blueprint was also developed for financial management.  This blueprint played a substantial role in the acquisition of the Financial and Business Management System and serves as a key input to the Government’s overall effort to improve financial systems.  Other blueprints have been developed for Law Enforcement and Wildland Fire in 2004.

 

What Benefits have you Achieved to Date?

Three major achievements have been realized under the IEA program in 2004.  First, a DOI-wide EA repository (DEAR) was established, using a tailored commercial off the shelf (COTS) architecture tool that supports Interior’s business and architectural requirements.  Both the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of State (DOS) are in the process of creating centralized EA repositories based on the DOI model.  This EA repository aligns with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) for improved information sharing with other federal agencies.  The repository unifies all EA development efforts and artifacts under one taxonomy and in a centralized source accessible to all Interior bureaus and offices.   Through the repository, bureau architects and system owners map their systems and investments to Interior’s strategic plan, and to business, data, service and technology reference models.   The repository is “mined” throughout Interior to identify cross-cutting solutions, reduce redundancies and identify reusable and sharable service components that ultimately drive down Interior’s infrastructure costs.  Secondly, a modernization blueprint methodology was developed to provide structure and consistency in Interior’s architecture development.  The methodology employs a highly-structured process which encompasses analyses of organizational structures, business functions, processes, data requirements, existing systems and planned investments, to achieve improved performance in accomplishing Interior’s strategic and tactical goals.  The methodology encompasses a set of scoring criteria, based on the OMB FEA Reference Models, covering performance, business, data, application, technology and security maturity to define a target state and transition plan from Interior’s as-is architecture.  These blueprints are presented to Interior’s Investment Review Board for approval to guide future capital planning and IT investment decision-making.  Lastly, modernization blueprints were developed for the Financial Management, Recreation, Wildland Fire and Law Enforcement lines of business (LOB) under the IEA program in 2004.   Each modernization blueprint provides a detailed plan for improving internal efficiencies and end services, minimizing security and privacy risks, and reducing Interior’s total cost of ownership through elimination of redundant systems and investments.  Combined, the four modernization blueprints have identified approximately 100 redundant systems that DOI will retire within the next 1-3 years, resulting in millions of dollars in savings. Organizational boundaries that prevent the efficient sharing of information are being reexamined and less than optimal reuses of data are being corrected. Opportunities for business process reengineering have been identified to facilitate common approaches to deliver end-services to the citizen and partnering agencies.  In the Recreation LOB alone,16 systems that would have remained on-line will now be retired, saving valuable IT funding and improving the President’s Management Agenda E-Gov Recreation One Stop initiative’s service to the citizen. In the financial blueprint, 166 systems are being improved, with over 80 identified for retirement at this time, thus saving money and improving financial accountability.

 

Explain how the Process and the Stakeholders to the Process were engaged in this effort.

The process of creating an integrated EA methodolgy for DOI engaged stakeholders from the highest levels of Interior’s mangement to the field system owners. Both a top-down and bottom-up approach was taken. From the top, senior management were briefed from the beginning on the benefits of developing a single cohesive EA effort in Interior that followed the OMB FEA models. This approach was approved by the DOI E-Gov Team and the Interior IT Investment Review Board.  A governance structure was established and implemented to support the moderniztion blueprint analyses.  This governance structure and blueprint methodology included input from business managers, system owners, and key IT officials (e.g., Bureau CIOs and Deputy CIOs) across Interior.  Key in implementing the methodology was alignment to Interior’s strategic plan that incoporated input and feedback from Interior’s stakeholders and the end citizen.  By integrating the goals and objectives of Interior’s strategic plan as the DOI performance reference model, the IEA ensured a citizen-centric focus was followed.  The governance boards included membership from DOI headquarters and all DOI bureaus and offices.  This tactic proved highly successful as all stakeholders were involved from the start and understood the benefits to be derived. With the governance structure in place, bureau architects, IT system owners and users were engaged in the process of implementing the DOI central EA respository and the development and review of the modernization blueprints.  Stakeholders external to DOI were engaged in the process as appropriate.

 

Why do you consider this Enterprise Architecture and award winning, transformational, innovative plan?

The DOI EA effort is unique in many aspects. DOI was the first federal cabinet agency to “operationalize” the OMB FEA Reference models through a Department-wide EA repository and blueprint methodology that unified EA development across its bureaus and offices.   Interior has been contacted by other cabinet agencies (e.g., Departments of State and Energy) to leverage Interior’s repository design and supporting blueprint methodology.  The FEA reference models were created as a hierarchical classification system for the federal government.  However, these models, albeit critical in cross-agency analysis, provided a very high-level taxonomy geared towards inter-agency analysis.  The DOI extended the FEA models by linking them to the DOI Strategic Plan goals and outcomes, Interior’s Activity Based Costing model and  Capital Planning and Investment Control database, data architectures, the DOI Technology  Reference Model and Interior’s IT system inventory.  Using these operationalized models, DOI IT investment decision-makers can now see direct links between their IT systems and investments and DOI goals targeted for accomplishment.  The DOI implemented a strategically business-driven EA repository that connects architecture, information security and investment management artifacts and information. The DOI not only inventoried its IT system assets, but provided the means to strategically analyze them in the context of future planning cycles to control investments, security risks and technology standardization while reducing IT costs.  Further, since all of the information in the repository is available to all DOI stakeholders, it improves data sharing through standardized data, identification of re-usable/shareable components, and definition of common solutions for future IT investments.  Also unique to DOI is the modernization blueprint methodolgy.  Using a quantitative process, the methodology facilitates the change required to maximize the IT investment process to meet the business managers’ and corporate needs.  DOI’s Investment Review Board endorsed the IEA modernization blueprint methodology requiring the blueprints to be used to guide the Interior’s IT investment process resulting in a strong linkage between EA and the capital planning and investment control process.  Finally, whereas many EA programs are viewed as theoretical and academic exercises, under the IEA program an actionable architecture has been produced using line of business modernization blueprints that will result in tangible benefits to the citizen, Interior’s business partners and overall reduction in Interior’s IT costs.