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GCN : March and April 2016
36 GCN MARCH/APRIL 2016 • GCN.COM As government agencies seek to mod- ernize their IT procurement efforts, many are turning to agile methodology — the same iterative and highly col- laborative approach that is increasingly used for software development. The traditional approach to procure- ment resembles the waterfall method of development. It usually entails de- fining all requirements and costs before starting a project and completing each phase only when the previous one is finished. That procurement method is starting to lose ground, however, as the pace of technology picks up and agen- cies realize they risk investing in a solu- tion that is out of date by the time it launches. Some agencies are adopting a fixed- price-per-sprint model, while others are testing systems focused on delivering iterative services rather than one big solution. NGA: PAYING BY THE SPRINT The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency awarded Octo Consulting Group a five-year, $34 million contract for software engineering, infrastructure and continuous support for the agen- cy’s Agile Web Presence program. The contract, described as a “development capacity” rather than project-based ac- quisition, allows NGA to track what it’s paying for in near-real time. “This is unique in that the govern- ment is specifying a fixed amount for a finite amount of development capac- ity,” said Mehul Sanghani, founder and CEO of Octo. NGA is setting two-week sprint cycles for development that will deliver 70 “stories,” or business requirements, for a fixed fee. Every six months, officials will assess the project’s performance and deliverables. According to Sanghani, NGA offi- cials were looking for an iterative pro- cess, cost efficiency, resiliency within a secure infrastructure and the ability to increase capacity as new functional requirements arise. The agency also required sustainment plans for existing operations, management of its recent adoption of a government cloud solu- tion from Amazon Web Services and higher-level developmental plans — all of which demanded the flexibility to adjust requirements on the fly. For NGA, having strong visibility into CAN AGILE TRANSFORM IT PROCUREMENT? A variety of agencies are applying agile methods to contracting in an approach that seems tailor-made for IT services BY AMANDA ZIADEH 0416gcn_036-039.indd 36 2/29/16 9:48 AM
January and February 2016