One of the fastest growing IT trends at Air Force

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

The Air Force has begun piloting agile methodology in some of its key programs, and we can expect to see this as a growing trend throughout the service and the rest of the Department of Defense, as agile methodology adoption picks up based on acquisition guidance.

The main theme of the AFCEA Montgomery IT Summit (MITS) was using agile development to help the Air Force make data-driven decisions. The service views its data as a strategic asset and leaders point to using data to facilitate decisions that will outsmart adversaries as part of the Third Offset Strategy.

The Program Executive Officer of the Business and Enterprise Systems (PEO BES) office, Rich Aldridge, kicked off the conference by speaking about the challenges that his organization faces when it comes to systems development, which has led the Air Force down the path of using agile development to counter cost, schedule and risk as a way forward.

Here are just a few key priorities the Air Force will be examining as it works to make its software systems more agile:

Mobility

PEO BES wants to modernize its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to become more mobile-friendly, ultimately enabling better decision making across the entire supply chain and user base. The office is working on its mobile strategy, one that will allow standardized processes and technology to get airmen the capabilities needed in the field. So now is a good time to meet with the chief technology officer of PEO BES as the organization works to flesh out its strategy.

Analytics

One office that’s being established on behalf of the Secretary of the Air Force’s A-1 (Manpower and Personnel) will be the Human Capital Analytics office.

This organization should reach initial operating capability by the fall and will be looking at cross-functional human resources data elements to identify patterns in data. For example, what are the factors leading to early separation and how the Air Force can attract, develop and retain top talent.

The Air Force’s Financial Management office is also looking at how data analytics can better prepare it for an audit. One area the service struggles with in this area is with legacy systems. Improved data conversion would allow them to have cleaner data, but right now these offices are in the process is figuring out which financial systems to combine, keep or kill. This creates opportunity for industry, in helping these offices figure out a way ahead not only with data cleansing but also configuration management for the systems that they do keep.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has been one issue that has given the Air Force challenges when it comes to agile development.  It adds an additional layer of oversight to system and software development process. Obviously, cyber remains a top priority and concern, and agile methodology will ultimately improve overall cyber protections. With software development, cyber needs to be a continual process since development is never complete until a system is turned off. This will mean that Air Force customers will have the ability to continually implement new cyber solutions and respond to anticipated threats, so these customers will need industry’s help in keeping systems up to the minute with cybersecurity.

For more guidance on selling IT to DOD and the military branches, reach out to immixGroup’s Market Intelligence team. You can also check out my recent webinar on the Army’s IT modernization strategy.

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