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CHIPS Articles: Agile Rapid Delivery of IT Tailored to Fit Needs

Agile Rapid Delivery of IT Tailored to Fit Needs
Sea Warrior Leading the Way in Abbreviated Acquisition Programs
By PEO EIS Sea Warrior Program (PMW 240) - July-September 2014
Department of Defense (DoD) agencies delivering information technology (IT) solutions face unprecedented challenges as budgets are decreasing and demands have exponentially increased. Users need their IT capabilities produced quickly, combined with state-of-the-art graphics, and integrated with the ever-more capable World Wide Web. This environment — constrained funding, burgeoning technology, and constantly increasing user demands — has become a catalyst for the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) Sea Warrior Program (PMW 240) to create a new approach to acquisition, one that focuses on rapid, incremental delivery of capability at lower cost and acceptable risk.

PMW 240 produces many of the Navy’s Defense Business Systems (DBS), from the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS), to recruiting and accessions capabilities, to the DoD IT Portfolio Repository (DITPR) for the Department of the Navy (DON). In managing a portfolio of more than 40 DBS programs, PMW 240 has become a leader in developing processes, establishing policy and standard operating procedures for "small project structures.” PMW 240’s approach is to use the Abbreviated Acquisition Programs (AAPs) framework focused on rapid delivery of IT systems.

In the past, IT business systems followed the same process as larger acquisition programs. With an ever-increasing demand for more modern technology within the fleet, the acquisition process was unacceptably slowing things down. The accelerated nature of IT business system development shoe-horned into old-school acquisition was resulting in leaving the modern-day Sailor behind the curve on current tools and applications. PMW 240 set out to fix this conundrum.

IT has a real effect on Sailors even when they aren’t thinking about it, and the need is real. For instance, improvements in leave processing through PMW 240’s E-Leave system made a real impact in savings for the Sailor and a huge administrative cost-reduction within the Navy. E-Leave is a great example of getting capability developed quickly.

“Since PMW 240 is focused on enterprise IT business systems both ashore and afloat, it was critical for the program to find a way to deliver solutions faster,” said Laura Knight, program manager for Sea Warrior. “The need for IT modernization coupled with the need for increased productivity and efficiency necessitated streamlining of the DoD acquisition processes.”

Knight went on to say, “IT systems within PMW 240 require tailoring from traditional acquisition practices in order to maintain currency with rapidly advancing technologies during the acquisition cycle. We acquire these business IT systems through simple, streamlined yet compliant processes ensuring statutory and regulatory requirements are met within a shorter timeframe.”

Since 2011, the Business Capability Lifecycle (BCL) Guide has been mandated for use for all DoD business system acquisitions. However, the policy that governs DON acquisitions, SECNAVINST 5000.2E, Department of the Navy Implementation and Operation of the Defense Acquisition System and the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System, also produced in 2011, has a gap when it comes to the guidelines in the BCL.

In response to this gap, PMW 240 found a solution by combining the best of both policies. The SECNAV Instruction outlines regulations for Abbreviated Acquisition Programs and allows PEOs to define their AAP policy in compliance with regulations and statutes. PMW 240 developed a tailored yet compliant AAP process that incorporated the needs of the BCL into a simple, comprehensive approach to Defense Business Systems acquisition. The Sea Warrior Program now follows the resulting PEO-EIS approved, AAP-based, BCL and interim DoD Instruction 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, compliant acquisition process that moves at the appropriate pace to keep up with technical advances. Figure 1 illustrates decision points and phases mapped to the PMW 240 Abbreviated Acquisition Program approach.

The resulting, simple AAP process succeeds because it allows rapid acquisition within the requirements of DON and DoD regulations. It defines both the requirements for initiating and the activities for executing a program. It provides a statutory and regulatory compliant coordination mechanism across all acquisition disciplines. PMW 240 has applied it to roughly 15 programs since early FY12 cutting both time and cost. As a result, the Business Case Analyses (BCAs) for these programs show more than $750 million in efficiencies.

The most common-sense tactic about the new acquisition approach is that it makes the work effort consistent with the dollars and risk. A $1 million-dollar program should not require the same amount of documentation and oversight as a $15 million-dollar program, and with PMW 240’s process, its acquisition professionals tailor the need to the requirement. It’s a great practical approach that truly facilitates getting capabilities to the fleet faster.

Not only did PMW 240 create a more streamlined acquisition process, but it put the resources in place to make the process work. PMW 240 stood up a Product Development Group (PDG) with the responsibility for getting programs started and under development. The PDG gets programs through the startup process quickly, working up front with the functional sponsors as they conduct business process reengineering and develop the Functional Requirements Document, and then partnering to document the BCA. PMW 240’s collaboration with our functional sponsors in the PDG has made a huge difference, influencing how the functional community prepares their requirements so that we can develop them quickly. This teamwork has accelerated long-lead items and made starting programs much faster.

In producing a BCA with the functional sponsor, PMW 240 performs a Materiel Solutions Analysis that picks the smartest way to implement the requirements. As much as possible, PMW 240 uses commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions or other non-developmental items, and gets as much reuse as we can out of capabilities. But in all cases, PMW 240 makes sure the approach is the right solution before it goes to contract, and obtains agreement with the functional sponsor on the way ahead.

PMW’s teamwork and tailored processes have been successful. “By eliminating or combining meetings and reviews, accepting reasonable risk, and streamlining the acquisition process, PMW 240 has minimized oversight costs and decreased delivery time,” Knight stated. “We’ve cut the acquisition timeline by at least 12 months for AAPs and saved the Navy significant costs per program.”

Beyond the cost and time savings, the acquisition approach focuses on the deliverable rather than the process, which ensures that the Navy receives the best possible Defense Business Systems to serve the fleet’s needs. By tailoring the approach to meet the needs of the customer, with a best value solution delivered in the shortest possible timeframe, PMW 240 provides results that incorporate innovation while maintaining compliance with laws and regulations.

The repeatable AAP process has already had success with several programs including PMW 240’s Record of Emergency Data and Dependency Application (RED/DA), Enhanced Drill Management (EDM), and Permanent Change of Station-Roundup (PCS-R) — small, quickly turned, and completed programs. (See Figure 2 for a description of these programs.) By using the tailored process, the project team was able to reduce and eliminate unnecessary documentation and update existing documents rather than creating new artifacts. Because the process is repeatable and adaptable, the project teams were able to use lessons learned and sample documents from previous project teams helping to eliminate delays while still demonstrating appropriate management and oversight.

Applying these streamlined processes to each element of the PMW 240 portfolio allows program leadership to make informed decisions quickly.

Knight concluded, “Our AAP programs are an example of how to tailor, execute, and reduce the oversight to the right level, spending the money on where it needs to go, on capability. When we team with our functional sponsors, we bring a high-performing process that we both know we can rely on to meet the needs of the fleet while overcoming the vexing challenges of IT acquisitions.”

Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS):

Sea Warrior Program:

Figure 1. Business Capability Lifecycle (BCL) decision points and phases mapped to the PMW 240 Abbreviated Acquisition Program (AAP) decision points and phases and descriptions of the actions at each of the decision points. Please note: not meant to represent amount of time in each phase.
Figure 2. Example of Sea Warrior Programs.
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