This unit serves as an introduction to several key process areas that should be used throughout the system life cycle to manage the development and operations of information systems. Processes should address:
- Understanding Customer Needs and Expectations
- Deriving and Allocating Requirements
- Planning the Technical effort
- Analyzing Candidate Solutions
- Developing Physical Architectures
- Integrating Acquisition Disciplines
- Managing, Monitoring, and Controlling the Technical Effort
- Integrating the System
- Verifying and Validating the System
- Ensuring Quality
- Managing Configurations
- Managing Risk
- Managing Transition to Operational Use
- Managing System Support
- Defining and Improving Management and Engineering Processes
For this unit, processes are grouped in the general categories of project planning, requirements management, project tracking and oversight, contractor management, verification and validation, quality assurance, change management, and risk management.
- Project Planning
For each information system project, the agency should designate a responsible organization and assign that organization sufficient resources to execute the project. Additionally, the agency may tentatively identify the operating organization if different from the project organization.
The project organization should perform the initial project planning described below and present the following System Boundary Document (SBD) elements to the appropriate level for approval:
- Project Office Charter and Resource Requirements
- Acquisition Strategy Paper
- Acquisition Project Baseline
- Project Schedule
- Project Cost Estimate
Once approved, these documents should provide the basis for internal project management as well as agency oversight. These SBD elements should be reviewed and updated, as appropriate, prior to initiating each system development life cycle phase.
Development of large information systems requires unique management skills and experience as well as underlying knowledge of the technologies involved in the project. The designated project manager for large information system projects should possess, as a minimum, the following knowledge, skills and abilities:
- A degree or higher in engineering, computer science, or technical field related to the project.
- Demonstrated ability to manage development projects, to include accountability for project cost, schedule, and technical performance.
- Knowledge of agency development policies and procedures.
- Demonstrated ability to manage contracted efforts.
- Demonstrated ability to represent the project at all levels of the government as well as to the public.
The project office may be placed at any location or level of the agency as appropriate. In all cases, the designated project manager should not be the warranted contracting officer for any associated contracts
The project office organization should be staffed with the appropriate number and kinds of personnel experienced in the domain of the application being acquired. These individuals may be directly assigned to the project office or matrixed from supporting organizations. Depending on the project size and complexity, project office personnel should include individuals trained and experienced in technical management (engineering, computer science, configuration management, quality assurance, logistics, etc.), business management (finance, cost-estimating, business management, etc.), and contract management. Support contractors may augment project office staffing, provided all applicable public law and Federal regulations are applied to the efforts (e.g., inherent governmental activities, non-personal services, etc.). Additionally, project office personnel should be supplied with all needed supplies, equipment, tools, and services needed to accomplish the project objectives.
Information technology development projects, like all acquisition development projects, require personnel with management and technical skills that are congruent with the acquisition strategy selected for the project. Selecting an acquisition strategy that requires skills and experience not present in the available staffing introduces major risks.
All assigned and supporting project office personnel should be provided continuous opportunities for training in their technical, business, and contract management functions. Additionally, the project office should provide assigned personnel with training specific to the project requirements, with emphasis on training in the area of advanced technologies being applied to the project.
Communications channels should be established through the agency organization to the agency IRM Office, as needed, to provide for internal agency tracking of project progress.
Organizational placement should allow sufficient visibility of project needs to allow agency resources to be effectively applied to the project.
The management of the project organization and individual reporting channels should be in accordance with published agency directives. Additionally, for large information system projects, the designated project manager should have a formal, unrestricted communications channel to the agency Information Resource Manager.
Project Office Charter
Effective with the identification of the business need (in the System Concept Development Phase) for a project, the agency should designate the developing project organization. For a new large project, this may require the creation of a new organizational element. For smaller projects and modifications to existing systems, the project may be assigned within a current organizational element. In all cases, the identification of a distinct project organization should also include the identification of a designated project manager who carries both the responsibility and accountability for project execution. The project manager is responsible for creating the SBD. This package, when approved by the project manager, the resource provider, and the decision authority, should constitute a contract between the project manager and the decision authority as detailed in the project office charter. All project reporting, tracking, and oversight should reference this package. The SBD should also contain specific requests for the removal (waivers) of constraints within the purview of the decision authority.
Organizational Processes Development.
To provide a management structure for the project, the project office should adapt, adopt, or create written processes and procedures for recurring project office activities. This guide defines several of the critical processes essential to the successful project execution. These include requirements management, project tracking, contractor management, verification and validation, quality assurance, change management, and risk management. For agencies with mature acquisition organizations, this activity may be confined to following existing general processes or adapting an existing project’s processes to the new project.
- Acquisition Strategy Development
Acquisition strategy is a combination of business and technical concepts designed to meet the stated business need within any specified constraints. It is the framework for managing all phases of the life cycle and provides the underlying strategy for all program plans and activities.
While the strategy may evolve over time, it should contain elements from across all life cycle phases, including disposal.
System analysis and development is an involved process, and early identification of the various levels of input into the process ensures an effective program development. Again, this brings to fore, the strategic importance of systems thinking as a more user-friendly than the traditional systems development strategies.