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Army, VA Taking on Major Enterprise Financial System Transformation Projects

TAKE NOTE (Insights and Emerging Technology)

GFEBS Product Director Heather Putman, speaking at the Association of Government Accountants’ Financial Services Summit, said that cloud migration would increase agility for Army business needs, improve performance and provide real-time visibility to data.

“When we procure hardware — physical boxes — it takes a long time, and then you have to secure them. So what this gives us the opportunity [to do] is we have more agility to scale up and scale down, based on the needs of our customer base,” Putman said.

That move, she added, will also allow for greater data transparency that will make future audits easier to manage.

“In the past, our focus has been on the hardware, and what can the hardware do and what can the database do. We’re not having those conversations anymore. We’re talking about data. So our focus really allows us to start looking at the data and what the data can do for us,” Putman said.

But for all those opportunities, the move to the cloud also raises new complexities and challenges, including data security and the cost of migration.

“You start to build in the cloud, and as you’re building, you still have to maintain what you have on-premise as well. So you’re doubling costs for the time that you have to transfer your operations from one location to another. And that is costly, and you need to be prepared for that, and then balance the time it takes to move to the environment with the risk,” Putman said. “That’s really what we are in the process of doing now, is how fast can we potentially go without accepting risk that’s going to jeopardize our customers.”

PEO-EIS has also launched a “transformational initiative” to make GFEBS a shared service provider of financial management systems for the Defense Health Agency and the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Putman said the shared services move is part of “strategic alignment” that was first envisioned by DHA years ago.

“If a hospital in the Navy has to track accounts receivable and the procurement of medical supplies, and a hospital in the Air Force has to do it, and a hospital in the Army has to do it? Why do we have different service systems? It’s all the same color of money,” Putman said. “Why are we doing it this way?”

Last year, the Army launched a shared service pilot with about 500 DHA personal, and this month brought 350 Navy users onboard. The pilot includes personnel in the Washington, D.C. metro region, Quantico, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida.

Putman outlined a “rapid-fire” migration strategy later this year that will move a second tranche of program offices will move to GFEBS in April, a third tranche will migrate in June and a fourth wave will move in September.

VA takes another shot at financial management consolidation

Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs will take another shot at moving to a consolidated financial management system this summer….

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UNDER DEVELOPMENT (Insights for Developers)

Agile Methodology – Modern Software Development Explained

Every technology organization today seems to practice the agile methodology for software development, or a version of it. Or at least they believe they do. Whether you are new to agile application development or you learned software development decades ago using the waterfall software development methodology, today your work is at least influenced by the agile methodology.….

But what is agile methodology, and how should it be practiced in software development? How does agile development differ from waterfall in practice? What is the agile software development life-cycle, or agile SDLC? And what is scrum agile versus Kanban, SAFe and other agile models?

Lets see if we can answer some of these questions in this month’s blog…

Agile – In The Beginning

Agile began as an approach to software development, which is rapidly becoming a preferred way to tackle other project types. It’s based on a set of values and principles that guide the decision-making process, without being as restrictive as traditional project management methods usually are.

While it provides a framework to work within, Agile remains flexible enough to allow teams to make the ideal decisions in any given situation. By enabling developers to deliver results in small, “bite-sized” increments, Agile also makes it possible to change or correct a course of action before the results are significant.

The spread of Agile’s acceptance across global industries is being driven by the realization that it’s the only way for organizations to manage competently in today’s turbulent, customer-driven marketplace. The concept allows companies to handle continuous change in a world that is increasingly uncertain and difficult to navigate.

Agile For Beginners

It’s important to realize that Agile is not a methodology itself—in fact—it’s almost an anti-methodology. That’s because it focuses on avoiding fixed, bureaucratic ways of working and instead simply offers a framework for working in. If Agile becomes a methodology, it would by its nature be less agile! There are, however, several well-known methodologies that teams can use to follow the Agile principles effectively. Some of the most widely-used of these are Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, XP, and Crystal.By comparison with traditional software engineering methods, the Agile approach is well-suited to situations in which accurate estimates, approved plans, and stable projections are difficult to get. Under this type of circumstances, a project often requires a leap of faith by the owners or sponsors. By breaking it down into incremental and iterative components, though, it’s possible to significantly reduce the risk.

Agile development methods range from adaptive, which focus on rapidly adjusting to changing situations, to predictive, which focus on projecting possible changing scenarios and planning ahead for them. Leaders encourage teamwork and accountability to achieve the project’s goals.

The Agile Manifesto

The concept of Agile was formalized in 2001 in a document called The Agile Manifesto, by a group of developers who understood that, in order to find a better way of creating new software, they needed to reverse some of the primary assumptions guiding 20th century-style project management.

The outcome of this process was the Manifesto, which includes four basic guiding principles. The philosophy is that while there is value to be found in the concepts on the right-hand side of the list, Agile teams value those on the left more:

  • Individuals and interactions versus Processes and tools
  • Working software versus Comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration versus Contract negotiation
  • Responding to change versus Following a plan

These values aren’t intended to dictate how teams work, but to empower them to think in ways that make constant improvements possible. The points contained in the Manifesto are in direct contrast to the methods and standards of the PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge).

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Dig Deeper – Scaled Agile Framework Demystified

Q&A (Post your questions and get the answers you need)

Q. What is the difference between SAFe and Scrum.

A. Scrum and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®️), both function under the Agile values and principles. Though there are very small differences between Scrum and SAFe®, it is very important to have a clear understanding of the same. Scrum is a framework which is based on the values and principles of Agile, whereas SAFe® is a framework which implements at an enterprise level.

Let us have a look at the differences between Scrum and SAFe®.

There is not a framework which is better than the other. There are a few elements to consider when selecting an Agile framework that suits your needs better, like:

  • The context of implementation and objective of the organization
  • Level of involvement of management within the project
  • Size: How many employees are working within the organization?
  • Organization structure
  • The type of project to manage
  • Stakeholders requirements and opinions

Software development teams have proven that implementing agile frameworks, like scrum and kanban, lets them deliver solutions to customers faster, with more predictability, and gives them the ability to react quickly based on new information. Implementing agile at the individual team level is relatively easy – the benefits are clear and the resources are plenty.

But the real challenge is extending it across multiple teams in a large organization. In other words, implementing agile at scale.

Cheers!

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