DoD PSM’s Role in Planning for IT Systems Support
Today’s topic focuses on the Information Technology (IT) Systems Continuous Support Integrated Product Support (IPS) Element. While few DoD Product Support Managers (PSMs) would consider themselves software engineering or IT experts, all PSMs should be “conversant” in these important aspects of DoD systems, particularly if their program is software-intensive, using the Software Acquisition pathway, or the Defense Business System (DBS) pathway. The PSM should work closely with program office software engineers and the organic Software Support Activity (SSA) (if applicable) to ensure SSA representatives are involved and informed throughout the design and development phases, which likely include use of Agile principles, continuous integration and deployment, and Development, Security, and Operations (DevSecOps).
PSMs ensure product support package requirements such as training and technical manuals for Minimum Viable Products and Minimum Viable Capability Releases are identified and delivered. PSMs also ensure facilities such as Software Development Labs or System Integration Labs are planned, resourced, and established. In addition, PSMs ensure integration across product support activities for requirements related to Cybersecurity and Program Protection Planning.
One software best practice is to include in the development contract a requirement for program office and SSA software engineers to be embedded in the development contractor’s Agile team. This serves not only to build trust and collaboration but provides the SSA a knowledge base that reduces the learning curve upon fielding and transition of software responsibility to the SSA. Another important task is for the PSM to collaborate with the program office software engineers, configuration managers, data managers, contracting, legal, and the SSA to review contractor proposals’ software data rights assertions to achieve a clear understanding of license rights and the implications of any rights less than those required for the approved product support strategy.
Finally, since this particular IPS Element includes the program’s Digital Engineering Ecosystem (DEE), the PSM should work closely with the engineering and configuration management and data management teams in establishing the DEE, which for digital programs includes a Product Lifecycle Management capability to manage authoritative system models and data.
To explore this topic further, see the IPS Element Guidebook, LOG 0270, Introduction to Software Lifecycle Management, the Life Cycle Logistics functional area competencies for this IPS Element, CLCL 009 Information Technology Life Cycle Support Credential, and DAU’s software engineering series of courses.