DHS Agile Framework

Agile IPT White paper v10.pdfToday I will share some of the artifacts produced by a DHS IPT chartered by the CIO last year. The group produced a draft Agile framework in February. In June, the DHS CIO signed a memo to “formally communicate [his] support for the continued evolution and maturation of the framework.” Mr. Spires encouraged programs to move toward agile approaches wherever possible. He said the framework in the IPT’s white paper should serve as a staring point for the tailoring of IT programs and projects where appropriate and agreed to by the applicable governing authority per MD 102-01.

What’s that mean to us? Now that CG-LIMS is a non-major project, we’re governed by the Coast Guard’s SDLC practice, which is a tailoring of the SELC in MD 102-01. There’s less oversight and governance in the SDLC process, but it’s still basically a waterfall process. To the extent we can tailor the SDLC process and help folks like our Asset Manager to change the SDLC process, it will be helpful to know the direction DHS is going with respect to Agile processes for major IT projects.

If you read through the framework, I think you’ll see that there’s already so much that we’re doing right.

I encourage you to read through the whole white paper, but If I could choose just two pages to ask the folks in the PMO to read today it would be page 31 and 32. These describe the approach to documentation, beginning with the current approach in the AD-102, which also poisons the SDLC. We’ve taken some steps in the right direction: we’ve eliminated lots of duplication by pulling the background and description out of every document and putting it into a single standalone two-pager that is basically the “Executive Overview” described on page 33. But we can still make much more progress toward the goal of having documentation that is concise and serves a specific use. The goal of 3-5 pages for most documents and encouragement for diagrams and bullets is smart counsel for us.  Steal this idea!

We do not need to adopt the specific documents listed in the framework. Those are for new, major programs. We’ll continue to do the best we can from our starting point as a major program that has been reduced in scope after completing the MNS, CONOP, ORD, AA, and many other MSAM docs. It is not a good use of resources to re-write everything.  But as we have opportunities to move toward more Agile documentation, we’ll do it.

I think the downgrade request is a good example of documentation. In four pages, the Sponsor described the scope and the project office provided an estimated cost and schedule. This is a good example of appropriately concise documentation.

The framework describes how the MD 102-01 can be tailored to apply an Agile methodology. As we tailor the Coast Guard SDLC, we should use this framework as a source of great ideas to put in place to move in the same direction.  We don’t need follow the mapping of SELC to Agile processes as shown, but we certainly should be able to show a high level depiction of how we’re executing an Agile scrum methodology within the SDLC framework.

Anyone with access to the DHS intranet can find the CIO’s memo, the white paper with the framework, and a short slide deck on the DHS Agile Development blog.

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1 Response to “DHS Agile Framework”


  1. 1 james.m.sylvester August 8, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

    That is rather affirming. I liked all the bullets on page 35, but especially the one bullet that says “Fail Early”.


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