Hi, we want to talk to you about the most dangerous problem within the DoD
Soldiers in Afghanistan are purchasing their own equipment, because the process is failing them
We triple checked on the WordPerfect too
With a focus on Navy and Marine Corps
With a focus on Navy and Marine Corps
We quickly realized it was much more complicated than we thought. Shirley wanted us to focus on POST-MILESTONE B MAJOR DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS PROGRAMS in the DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS SYSTEM ONLY
So with that, we took our sponsor’s problem statement as our first hypothesis to test.
So we started talking to aides of generals to better understand
Well, this seems like it sucks so
Is there a faster way around this process, and what have people already tried to do? These turned out mostly to be red herrings for larger programs, but could really help with smaller programs
“Acquisition professionals” mean a lot of things. We realized that PMs are the ones to focus on because they were the most important acquisition professional for our MVP
We came up with a new problem statement we felt better fit the core issues
On the phone every week with operations teams and other stakeholders Acquisition program teams feel like part of the mission, including being part of mission briefs Dashboards are live updated to show critical program information to stakeholders, including operations teams
Adding the communication layer
Thanks Team TrackID
In addition to our individual interviews
And, by Week 7, we felt confident in our direction.
We heard over and over and over again that this system was broken. What we don’t want to do is put this into software.
Bring it back to the lonely Marine
We wanted to help with the transition to a better system, not ossify the current system. Yes, we think our system can shave years off of timeline, but the real point is that the DoD needs to think about constant development, not development → sustainment
Build in a feedback loop to people and programsEmbrace alternative methods for smaller acquisitionsEnsure real-time communication across communitiesReduce unnecessary documentation Use existing technology as much as possibleReward risk-takingBase incentives for success mostly on product-mission fit rather than cost and schedule performance Communication processes and toolsCritical program information for better decision making Mentality of tailoring documentation to programEnabling anonymous feedback and culture of risk-takingPrioritizing IT/administrative investment
Acquiforce H4D Stanford 2018 final presentation
Acquiforce Original Problem Statement: “Enable
acquisition professionals to automatically develop and coordinate program documentation.” Final Problem Statement: “Enable program managers to make better, faster program decisions with fewer documents.” 104 interviews Mackenzie Burnett Abhay Agarwal Mike Van Wyk Support Team: Tom Bedecarre (Mentor), Section 809 (Sponsor) Team Acquiforce:
At first, we thought it
was just an automation issue. Status Quo ● Programs spend on average 7 years emailing around 100+ page paper briefs written in WordPerfect to make $250m+ acquisitions ● Only half of the documents considered to be of high value “Help us enable acquisition professionals to automatically develop and coordinate program documentation related to a defense acquisition.”
So, we interviewed 104 different
stakeholders... ● Action Officers ● Program Managers ● PEOs ● KOs ● SOCOM ● Industry ● From defense contractors… ● ...to four star generals.
...helped by Lean Startup methodology.
Partners Activities Value Proposition Buy-in/Support Beneficiaries Navy acquisitions leadership Section 809 Congress (approves of 809 panel recommendations) Politicking, crafting recommendations that meet multiple stakeholders’ needs Creating Solving Customer’s Pains - Automate paperwork - Best practices are easy to find - Fewer approvals - Identification and reduction of risk - Complex process is much more understandable - Saves individuals money Customer’s Gains - More time for strategy and planning - Shorter process, closer to users & resources Section 809 Congress IT administrators Primary: Program Managers (PMs) Secondary: DoD leadership, Operational commanders, Warfighters Stakeholders: Other acquisition professionals, requirements professionals, and contract officers. Section 809 Panel. For deploying software solution, NSA, internal Marine Corps. Congress. Key Resources Deployment Access/Experience: From team network, understanding of internal acquisition process Technical Skills: Building web interfaces and maintaining database of RFP-related templates Section 809 report Naval Constellation Slack ASN(RNA) 1) Policy/SAMP 2) Platform Dev 3) Intra-naval “startup” with authorities and latitude Cost and Operating Plan Mission Achievement Budget/Cost Timeline - 1 FTE devoted to IT - 1 year for initial rollout Published as part of Section 809’s reports, implemented in Sharepoint in Navy/Marines -80% utilization across assigned program -50% elimination of process delays
What are the core issues
really at stake? Status Quo “Help us enable acquisition professionals to automatically develop and coordinate program documentation related to a defense acquisition.” ● Too slow ● Too much paperwork ● Doesn’t utilize existing tools ● Hard to know what information one needs to make “better” program decisions
Our team’s journey through the
past ten weeks. Automate document creation Increase quality of docs Speed up approval chain scheduling Use contracting vehicles Share best practices through better communication Streamline and automate documentation for big programs Use contracting vehicles Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Make sure all parties have the information and relationships they need to make good decisions Streamline and automate documentation for programs
Week 1: Document generation or
approval chain? “Documents aren’t hard to generate; they’re a pain in the ass and a pain in the ass to get approved” - Section 809 Commissioner “It’s not hard to build documents from scratch. What’s really a problem is the timeline it takes to get from person to person at all approval levels.” - Program Manager, Navy “I can get on a general’s calendar in three months from now and then have him cancel day of.” - Program Manager, Air Force
No, the problem is risk
aversion and uncertainty. “Acquisition folks are afraid of making a bad decision or not seeing a risk that will ruin the program.” - Navy SES “[My boss] would never sign anything unless [they] read everything [themselves]...Especially given volume and length of documents -- really complicated acquisitions stuff...documents would sit on desk for 1-2 months.” - Flag Aide, CNI “The acquisitions process suffers from higher- up’s ability to do...a “pocket veto” — ignore paperwork as a means to avoid taking responsibility for a potentially risky decision. In the DoD, the incentive is not to rock the boat and not to take risks.” - Navy Officer
Week 4: What are the
core issues really at stake? Status Quo “Help Section 809 enable program managers to make better, faster program decisions with fewer documents.” ● Too slow ● Too much paperwork ● Doesn’t utilize existing tools ● Hard to know what information one needs to make “better” program decisions Team Acquiforce
What are characteristics of a
successful program? ● Flexible requirements that actually reflect user needs ● Constant communication at every level ● Skin in the game, feeling part of the mission ● Transparency through live-updating dashboards ● Social rewards for risk taking and delivering “product- mission fit” ● It gets killed off if it is actually bad
Interview feedback about the communication
gap. “The problem is that these acquisition programs are too separated from feeling part of the mission.” - Navy PM “The teams that are the most successful are the ones that are in constant communication with their operators and at every level of the hierarchy.” - Navy Acquisitions Executive “I think the biggest issue is lack of communication (and access to information) across organizations” - AF Action Officer
Week 5: Lack of communication
is also a core issue. Status Quo “Help Section 809 enable program managers to make better, faster program decisions with fewer documents.” ● Too slow ● Too much paperwork ● Doesn’t utilize existing tools ● Hard to know what information one needs to make “better” program decisions Team Acquiforce● Different stakeholders don’t communicate consistently
Lack of communication seeds mistrust
between communities. “IT’S THEIR FAULT” Acquisitions Requirements Operators “Superior caste of anointed ones” “They don’t know what they want” “Can’t build a good program with bad requirements” “Shine the turd and move on” “They don’t know what they’re talking about” “Their process is more important than their product” “They never get anything I actually need” “They’re not real acquisitions professionals, they don’t know what they’re talking about”
(We only built a triangle.
It’s really a dodecahedron.) ● Resourcers ● KOs ● SOCOM ● High-rank ● Low-rank ● Politicians ● Services ● Contractors ● Industry
Week 6: Final MVP Goals
POLICY: Streamline documentation needs according to best practices ● Reduces unnecessary documentation ● Proven track record already (de-risked) TECHNOLOGY: Automate documentation, live update key info in Sharepoint ● Automates where it makes sense ● Uses existing and implemented technology as much as possible (I3A3, Sharepoint, MS Office, mIRC) PROCESS: Formalize “business rules” (use of Sharepoint and inter-stakeholder communication) ● Addresses “Triangle of Mistrust,” or trust gap between stakeholders ● Democratizes knowledge base of best practices based on data, not conventional wisdom ● Decreases required meetings that delay progress forward
Value Proposition for Program Managers
Typical user Jobs to do ▪ 20+ years of service, O-6 (40+ years old) ▪ Acquisitions professional for 10+ years ▪ Likely spent ~10 years in the operating forces ▪ Develop program plan that will be most successful ▪ Generate and coordinate program docs ▪ Supervise programs on cost, schedule, and performance Benefits of current model Pains of current model ▪ Not risky: When in doubt, do every document mentioned in the DoD 5000 and won’t get in trouble ▪ Familiar: Don’t have to learn a new tool ▪ Takes a really long time ▪ Waste time on unnecessary documents ▪ Don’t have critical program information ▪ Hard to learn from best practices across DoD Benefits added ▪ Reduce penalties for taking risks ▪ Increase rewards for delivering what people want ▪ Uses all existing tools within the DoD ▪ Reduces time by months or years ▪ Reduces # docs ▪ Surfaces critical program info ▪ Learn about best practices from across DoD Solution ▪ Creation: Use templates or automatically generate from database. ▪ Collaboration: Use a common document repository and a knowledge wiki. ▪ Communication: Get Slack/mIRC notifications and use real-time chat to communicate across all stakeholders. ▪ Approvals: Dashboards show critical info.
Weeks 7 -9: Getting further
validation from surveys ● “#slack” ● “A shared situational awareness sync button…” ● “A networked program… to ensure that ‘truth data’ is shared…” ● “Communication (and access too [sic] information) across organizations” ● “Lack of acceptance of technology… to collaborate and communicate” ● “...being able to cut out unnecessary documentation.”
Looking back at our journey...
Automate document creation Increase quality of docs Speed up approval chain scheduling Use contracting vehicles Share best practices through better communication Streamline and automate documentation for big programs Use contracting vehicles Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Make sure all parties have the information and relationships they need to make good decisions Streamline and automate documentation for programs
Bottom Line: We need a
Darwinian DoD ● We were asked to do something in a paradigm we started to question ○ We need to develop and acquire technologies that are precise, responsive, modern and software-defined ● We didn’t want to ossify current system into software ○ Stagnant systems are vulnerable systems ● Instead, we wanted to enable the feedback loops that help the system learn (i.e. evolve)
Our next steps Submit recommendation
to Section 809 Panel to then go to Congress Give prototype of an integrated knowledge base, program dashboard and real-time communication tool to Navy acquisition leadership
Thank you! Our work would
not have been possible without our sponsors at Section 809 (Shirley Franko and Darnelle Fisher) and numerous other supporters, including the teaching team, TAs (especially Paricha Duangtaweesub), H4D military liaisons, and our mentor Tom Bedecarre. Additionally, a special thanks to individuals at the following organizations: