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The following series of posts will offer discussion and ideas about making military information technology programs successful. I’ve been on both sides of the Department of Defense Acquisition process for over twenty years. Multiple articles and personal experience shows that even ‘successful’ IT programs usually miss the mark, most often by trading performance to mitigate the impact of cost overruns and schedule delays. The irony of this situation is that in an ever-improving technological environment, the more the military attempts to leap ahead, the slower and more expensive the programs seem.

Can you relate to this scenario...

In April 2018, we were approached by the eager winner of a government IT Innovation Competition. This creator-innovator won the award in April 2016 off a submission that had been submitted six months prior to the award, in effect making this innovative idea now almost three years old and they were just at the beginning of making his idea a reality.

The programs that have the most trouble are not those for standard hardware (laptops, monitors, printers, and associated peripherals) nor are we addressing requirements for popular commercially available software products such as Microsoft Office or the ubiquitous Oracle database management system or Red Hat Linux. The IT programs that have considerable trouble within the military specifically are those programs that are fit for the purpose of supporting military missions regardless of whether there is an industry or commercial standard available. The most egregious of these are programs based on Commercial Off The Shelf Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERPS). Yet totally custom coded programs and software to support technologically complex weapons systems track closely to the overall failure of these programs to meet cost, schedule, or performance targets.

I propose a Digital Triangle in support of IT Acquisition programs that consists of relationships between Requirements management, Architecture and Technology, and Laws and Regulations. Much like the project management triangle, managers and developers on both sides of the DoD IT acquisition world must address the trade-offs between these legs of the IT Acquisition Digital Triangle.

Check back to see my next post where we will examine the key mantra: “Agile is not an acquisition process” and how that statement relates to the Digital Triangle. Or better yet…Sign up in the side bar to receive notifications of new posts!

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