Network based systems

Defense agencies let experience inform planning and programming

The user experience improved much faster in the private sector and for individuals than in the federal government, let alone in the military. But a world transformed by a pandemic offers Defense agencies privileged opportunities to take user experience into account in planning and programming.

At the Defense Information Systems Agency, staff use program management tools and principles to monitor and track plans internally. Jason Martin, Executive Director of Ccomponent Acquisitions in the DISA’s Digital Capabilities & Security Center, said it still had to follow the DoD Instruction 5000 series for acquisition, but the agency developed acquisition processes and dates to ensure program management practices and coherent governance at all levels. Over the past several months, Martin said he has discussed what works and what doesn’t with the agency’s 130 program managers, which has led to some “really interesting” revelations about the staff, management personnel, funding and general processes.

“What I found was that we had varying degrees of expertise, knowledge and information sharing. So what we did was we set up and sort of reorganized the way we were doing ongoing reviews, or director progress reviews… and give it a real deep dive on each and every. program, ”Martin said during a webinar hosted by FedInsider this week. “And we did it in a standard form, various behind-the-scenes forms that we don’t produce on the outside, but from an internal tracking mechanism so we’re all on the same page, and the director knew exactly what the GS – pick your preferred GS grade – from any given contractor on a project.

He said standardization was the goal, and that way his team could assess in a red light-type chart format what was working in terms of cost, performance, or planning. Over the summer, his office combed through every portfolio to establish a baseline, and now they can operate in maintenance mode.

Colt Whittall also understands the need to move different organizations in the same direction. As the director of experience for the Air Force – a role created to put more emphasis on improving the IT user experience in the service – Whittall said one way to do this is to get everyone to look at the same data and metrics. Whether that data is related to performance issues or user experience, he said, it starts to force alignment on the needles to move.

However, for this to happen, the tools used for planning and programming must be well designed and easy to use, he said.

As agencies try to improve the user experience both internally and externally, DISA for one has developed a transformation plan, but the needs are different depending on the initiative. With the Fourth Estate Network Optimization initiative, for example – which aims to consolidate 14 agencies into a new DoDNET network by 2025 – Martin has said he wants to deliver a desktop user experience.

“Do we take user groups from the different agencies we work with, do we look internally, do we do both? We provide support from parts of the industry, [Federally funded research and development centers] – whatever the case? Well the answer is all of the above, of course, ”he said.

DISA must also contact user groups on a weekly or even daily basis to find out which business service offerings make sense, as combatants in theater will have unique needs in providing logistics information to a garrison, a. -he declares.

“Combatant Effectiveness” is actually Whittall’s preferred term for user experience when dealing with an Air Force audience, as he put it in this case they basically equate to the same thing.

“It’s about speed, reliability, agility, designed – with you, for how you use it in the real world, in nature, and not necessarily how we think the Pentagon should be. “, did he declare. “And if we do all of that, and it’s very efficient, responsive, secure, you get a great fighter, you get fighter efficiency.”

Whittall said when he joined the Air Force, there was no good way to measure how the service was supporting fighters’ readiness. Since then, they’ve run an online survey of around 2% of the user base on IT issues every week, which he said might sound odd, but it reflects business practices – and if l ‘Air Force wants a business-like user experience that comes with the territory. That way, they can track the data over time.

Another feedback tool is digital experience monitoring, where agents are placed on about 1% of the endpoints, we focused on the most precise endpoints of the 65 largest bases.

“What it does is it tells us exactly what the airmen go through down there at glass level when they interact with our software and tools, when they start the machine in the morning, when they access to the applications they need to do their jobs, “he said.” If a particular service is having issues and causing backgrounds, crashes and instability, we know exactly what it is and we can do it. to respond. “

He said this provided useful data for their entrepreneurial community: “Conversation that is thought-provoking, conversation very actionable. But it allows us to drill and produce the effectiveness of fighters, and move the needle we need to advance in performance, reliability, and responsiveness. “


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