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CHIPS Articles: How does DISA evaluate new service and capability requirements?

How does DISA evaluate new service and capability requirements?
By DISA News - July 25, 2018
The Requirements and Analysis Office (RAO) reviews and defines requirements and provides recommendations for implementing new services and capabilities by working with the agency’s senior leadership, program management offices and mission partners.

RAO facilitates the requirements management process by conducting a business case analysis, technical exploration and validation, market research, return on investment calculations, and portfolio governance.

Peter Cox, RAO’s requirements tools lead, explained how the requirements management process helps the workforce and mission partners analyze and execute requirements from start to finish.

“We guide you through the requirements decision-making process, from the initial requirements submission to the senior leadership decision to move forward on the requirement,” said Cox.

The office has three branches that support the requirements management process:

  • The Requirements Analysis Branch establishes and coordinates integrated product teams to address agency and DoD information technology capability gaps and redundancies.
  • The Cost Analysis Branch develops and delivers lifecycle cost estimates and budgets for requirements of the business case analysis.
  • The Requirements Process and Governance Branch plans, oversees, measures, and facilitates improvement of DISA’s requirements and governance processes.

“The RAO facilitates open communication with our customers — both in and outside of DISA — to enable a thorough, accurate, and timely requirements analysis and decision,” said Cox.

The office primarily processes two types of requirements requests from mission partners: new information technology (IT) service requirements and major enhancements to existing services.

To submit a request for new services or enhancements to existing services, mission partners complete a "new requirement request form" in Internet Explorer (Common Access Card required for access) and submit it to the Mission Partner Engagement Office (MPEO) for review and validation.

Next, MPEO submits the form to the RAO to conduct the requirements management process.

Jennifer Libby, the requirements process lead, highlighted the importance of developing quality requirements both at the beginning of a project lifecycle and as requests move through the requirements management process.

“When the proper attention is given to the collection, development, and validation of requirements, we all benefit,” said Libby. “The initial effort put forth at the beginning prevents schedule delays and cost overruns. It also provides a baseline of requirements for the capability as it moves through the acquisition lifecycle; ultimately ensuring customer expectations are met.”

To start the process, RAO leads an integrated product team to develop a business case analysis (BCA) to evaluate specific aspects of the request:

  • Requirements analysis.
  • Technical analysis and market research.
  • Preliminary cost estimation and funding strategy.
  • Courses of action and recommendation.
  • Test and evaluation risk profile.

After the BCA is completed, RAO approves the request and determines how the requirements can be fulfilled by the program management offices. If the program management offices cannot support the requirements, RAO refers the mission partner to an agency best suited to meet their needs.

If the program management offices can fulfill the request, RAO submits the BCA results to the Service Portfolio Council (SPC).

The SPC is the DISA senior leadership governance body that evaluates and approves new IT service requirements, modifications, or the retirement of existing services within the DISA service portfolio.

Rich Nowakowski, the RAO infrastructure section chief, explained the importance of conducting a BCA that provides a clear recommendation to senior leadership.

"The strategic decision-making by the Service Portfolio Council relies on information provided in the BCAs,” said Nowakowski. “The RAO develops and conducts BCAs and provides the results to the SPC to enable them to make informed decisions on whether to develop, integrate, and implement a service or capability.”

Requirement requests approved by the RAO and SPC are forwarded to the DISA executive deputy director, who makes the final decision.

After final approved is granted, the requirements and analysis process concludes, and the request is transitioned to the appropriate program management office for development and implementation.

“In the end, the program management office is handed a well-defined requirement with senior leader buy-in supporting the strategy for implementing and funding mission partner needs,” said Chip Hamilton, chief of the RAO. “We strive to ensure the program management offices are well-positioned to execute the new requirement in concert with existing capability development, implementation, and sustainment plans.”

For more information, please contact the Requirements and Analysis Office.

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