DevOps: Engility’s Agile Development Mashup

DevOps: Engility’s Agile Development Mashup

Mashups are great! We’ve all seen memes on our social media feed that combine beloved themes, or maybe croissants married to donuts to create cronuts, or maybe a western meets science fiction and results in Firefly…whatever flavor of nerddom resonates with you. And sometimes, we mashup technical capabilities like Agile and systems development to create a better approach to customer problems.

In the realm of software development, there are times that improvement requires a break from long-established, time-honored methods and favors a move to new processes, new ways of thinking, new attitudes, and something altogether different. This can be a challenging undertaking, especially in a government contracting model.

Traditionally, within government program offices, software development activities are typically contracted separately. And because software development is not integrated with other activities like systems development or quality assurance, if a system defect is discovered outside the systems engineering functional area, it is documented by the third-party agency and sent back to the software development team with little collaboration on a resolution between the disparate organizations. This process repeats until the system is fully accepted and delivered into the field, and the loop leads to cost overruns and delays in system fielding.

One trend in the commercial software development industry beginning to show up in government projects is the introduction of an Agile approach to system development and integration. Customers want service-delivery maturation and rapid delivery of technical solutions in a dynamic environment, and they are insisting on Agile tenets like:

  • User community involvement
  • Cross-functional teams
  • Continuous improvement and flexible response to change
Engility's Agile Development Mashup Even with this perfect fit of challenge and solution, the introduction of an Agile methodology requires more than just adopting an Agile approach; it requires a cultural change as well. This is accomplished through the implementation of DevOps (a compound word derived from "development" and "operations"), an emerging Agile concept designed to break down the traditional functional areas and bring key components of the process together earlier in the development process. This accelerates the delivery timeline and reduces quality and security risks of delivering a system into production. DevOps applies a modified approach that integrates procedural and cultural refinements to meet customer requirements for long-term modification and sustainment of a system, avoiding things like:

  • Schedule slips due to improper security accreditation
  • Underestimating the effort needed to correct deficiencies found during testing
  • System-performance issues affecting productivity
  • Unclear customer requirements
DevOps focuses on systems thinking, finding the right balance of each element to deliver the highest functioning and most secure system possible. Resolving cultural conflicts fosters an environment in which it is possible to increase the release rate of more reliable and secure systems.

Engility’s Agile DevOps ENnovation Center fosters a culture of innovation, rapid learning, iteration and process improvement. The team is a rapidly growing part of Engility’s technical offering, regularly called upon to provide solutions to our customers’ toughest challenges in the areas of software development and operations support. Further, our culture follows an engagement model that values individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan.

Don’t settle for “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Insist on a better approach to your system development. Dare to mashup your development methodologies!

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Posted by Brad Stewart

I am Engility’s Director of Software Development and IT Services as part of the Technical Solutions Group and serve as the program manager for the Veterans Benefit Management System Agile software development activities in Charleston, SC. I have served in leadership and strategy roles on programs with Engility’s Space and Defense Groups. I am currently focused on expanding the Agile DevOps ENnovation Center and supporting Engility’s customers in the realm of systems and software development activities across the organization.