Agile DoD Product Support (Part 2)
As a follow-on to yesterday’s “Agile Product Support (Part 1)” DAU LOG Blog post, coupled with the issuance of the recent GAO report entitled “GAO-23-106222 Leading Practices: Iterative Cycles Enable Rapid Delivery of Complex, Innovative Products”, today's LOG Blog post strives to “put some shoe leather” on the subject of Agile Product Support. Permit me to share a few thoughts on the practical application for DoD life cycle logisticians and product support managers:
- Ask yourself, what is my vision? What are my goals and desired outcomes? What are you trying to achieve? Where do you want your program to be going? Will applying adaptive, responsive, innovative, iterative, continuously improving Agile principles help me achieve that vision, those goals, or those desired outcomes?
- Agile principles and practices serve as a powerful enabler of a product support strategy in meeting the customer’s performance requirements. Agile methodologies help you translate strategic requirements to tangible tactical processes, practices, and results.
- Your Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP) becomes even more important, ever evolving, ever adapting, more iterative, more continuously updated with this approach. It cannot be a “once-and-done” or “put it on the shelf and don’t look at it again until the next 5-year update” document.
- Consider the criticality of each member of the team being the very best he or she can be, a true life-cycle logistics subject matter expert, with a passion for multi-functional integration, cross-functional alignment, collaboration, and teaming.
- Seek a broad understanding of key concepts such as the 12 Integrated Product Support (IPS) Elements, the Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP), Product Support Business Case Analysis (PS BCA) and Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), Risk, Issue, Opportunity (RIO) Management, OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), Continuous Product and Process Improvement, among others.
- Consider key factors such as evolving threats, technologies, funding, competing Service/Department/Agency priorities, complementary programs/capabilities, and the like.
- Focus on results, desired outcomes, and continuous enhancement of a minimum viable product.
- Iteratively adjust, adjust, adjust -- and improve, improve, improve!
- Critical thinking, well-thought-out assumptions, comprehensive reviews and assessments, regular environmental scans, forecasts, and analysis of alternatives matter. A lot.
- Seek to anticipate both known issues, challenges, and circumstances, as well as “unknown unknowns.”
- Apply Agile principles across all 12 IPS Elements. See the IPS Element Guidebook, IPS Element ACQuipedia articles, IPS Element-based LCL competencies, and IPS Element-based life cycle logistics credentials for additional insights.
- Obsolescence, Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS), system retirement, and funding challenges are each a given. Consider them, plan for them, anticipate them, and craft an iterative product support strategy that proactively addresses them.
- Strive to develop the ability to “peer around corners.” Innovate to craft new solutions to problems that may not even yet fully exist to provide new solutions before they are needed or required.
- Iterate using reasonable and well thought out assumptions. Iterate to adapt to current, anticipated, or potential circumstances and conditions. Iterate to develop, deliver, and sustain a flexible, affordable, adaptable product support strategy that meets Warfighter readiness requirements regardless of location, operating environment, or life cycle stage.
- Consider not only how to apply these iterative, Agile approaches, but how they might better align with the requirements and processes outlined in DoDI 5000.91 Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, the DoD Product Support Manager Guidebook, as well as the DoD Product Support Business Model (PSBM), the Product Support Strategy Development Tool, the DoD Integrated Product Support (IPS) Implementation Roadmap Tool, and performance based logistics (PBL) product support strategies.
- Keep in mind that iterative, Agile product support strategies are not limited to the purview of the software domain or software-intensive programs.
- For those of you already on this journey, would ask you to please share lessons learned, successes achieved, challenges overcome, and most importantly, results delivered. You can reach out to me directly by e-mail, post a comment in response to this blog, or provide your thoughts on our Logistics Community of Practice (LOG CoP) website.
To reiterate from yesterday’s “Agile Product Support (Part 1)” DAU LOG Blog post, here are just a few of the readily-available resources you might want to take a look at :
- GAO-23-106222 Leading Practices: Iterative Cycles Enable Rapid Delivery of Complex, Innovative Products
- Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) Software Acquisition Pathway
- DoDI 5000.91, Section 8, Product Support Management for the Software Acquisition Pathway
- DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, Section 7, General Procedures for the Software Acquisition Pathway
- DoD Contracting Considerations for Agile Solutions (2019), Section 8, Sample Language and Guidance
- Agile Acquisition & Project Management ACQuipedia Article
- Agile Software Development ACQuipedia Article
- GAO Agile Assessment Guide (2020)
- Build Agile Teams in Defense Acquisition
- “Hot Topics (Part 5): Software Life Cycle Management” DAU LOG Blog post
Coincidentally for those who may be interested in learning more, your DAU colleagues shared some thoughts on the subject in a recent webinar entitled “Let’s Talk Agile Webinar: Balancing Operational Relevance with Speed”.
Next up, watch for Part 3 of this three-part series of DAU LOG Blog posts in which we will share a few thoughts on foundational tenets undergirding application of these principles.