IT Procurement has been a hot button issue, ever since one of the largest civilian IT projects was “bungled” in almost every phase (See FCW article below). Consequently, the cost went 6x over the original bid. It overly-complicated the architecture. There was no system integration concept. Also, no end-to-end software or data lifecycle management. Furthermore, no quality acceptance procedures, criteria, incentives or anything similar.
We all know some or all those problems. But as the FCW article cites: “Bungled launches didn’t start with HealthCare.gov.” It is everywhere. It is government, commercial, non-profit, basically everywhere.
Of course, biases exist here at Xentity, as we believe in the “take your medicine now” approach. We believe that to be successful, you must design upfront, and register and buy back the risks. Then move into agile design, rapid development, and iterative launch as 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:
Five key actions to take are:
- Do a better job on defining desired outcomes upfront
- Improve the training options for the federal acquisition workforce to put them on an even footing with vendors
- Give agency CIOs more budget authority
- Avoid lowest price, technically acceptable contracts on large innovation-heavy projects
- Use agile development strategically and mainly when a project does not require a log of interaction with legacy systems
To Toot Our Own Horn, These Are Many Of The Fundamental Goals That Xentity Staff And Solution Focuses On. In Reply To Those Five Items:
- This is our main emphasis on designing the concept of operations. Also, requirements for the SOW, and registering the risks and knowing them ahead before procurement. However, it is important to vendors that the flexibility for logical and technical design be allowed. Also, to know upfront various concepts that may return and how to score them.
- Our fedbiz.xentity.com business management specialists service integrated with our architecture practice. This allows us to help bring in contracting and procurement specialization. This helps understand how vendors who respond based on market analysis results will respond to certain requirements or solicitation frameworks.
- We are set up to help advise CIOs on enterprise portfolio, architecture, capital planning, and segment adoption of CIO services and solutions.
- We agree that the Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable (LPTA) method does not work for acquiring design, planning, creative, and solution management services. LPTA beltway experts often game the systems by replying to architect positions with application developer rates. Typically for architects on initial task order. Technically it is acceptable. The rates are 30% better. But it is like asking a cook, “can you farm?” The cook could, but you want someone with subject matter expertise of agriculture economics, farming life cycles, key risk and success factors. Not someone who knows food. The solution costs more as MODS occur, app developers get replaced, and government pays the cost for missing deadlines and scope creep.
- 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 feed ETL or integration. But, when you have immovable objects, level of agile does not matter. In those cases, you must conduct architecture design, concept of operation alternative analysis, business case evaluation, requirements definition, and register and buy back risk.
All This Said…
We are very happy to see this attention back onto better design and definition up front. Of course, acknowledgement in this field it is always nice. It lets us know 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.