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Defense Acquisition University
SAFe-ty in Numbers: DAU Increases Agile Practitioners
May 08, 2019
The Department of Defense is in a period of rapid transformation. The tried and true management techniques cannot always account for the needs of an ever-changing environment. There is always going to be a time and a place for traditional management practices, but when requirements and technology change on a daily basis, the management of those deliverables and requirements also has to change.
This is where Agile program management comes in. Initially used to manage IT and software programs, the key tenets of Agile program management can be adapted for fast-moving, ever-changing programs -- like most programs in the Department of Defense right now. This has led to an increased in need for Defense personnel at all levels who are familiar with Agile program management. To address this need, DAU is constantly refreshing the faculty and ensuring they can provide the support the Defense Acquisition Workforce needs. Recently, 15 DAU personnel trained to become
Scaled Agile Framework Program Consultants
In addition to the 15 DAU students, 3 participants from the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (IAMD) also attended as part of the 2018 Section 873 National Defense Authorization Act initiative to field a pilot program using agile or iterative development methods. While the Army attendees will be able to provide limited Agile support to Army programs, by expanding DAU's bench from 3 to 18 Agile practitioners, DAU is better staffed to provide on-site Agile support for all Services, including how to scale Agile processes to an enterprise-level, regardless of hardware or software domains.
"The multi-functional attendance is key because DoD acquisition is a 'team sport.' We need all players to have a knowledge about agility to truly deliver capability to the warfighter at the 'speed of relevance.'," DAU faculty member Dr. Ann Wong said. "[DAU attendees were] faculty who can partner with both DoD requirements and acquisitions communities who are on their agile journey, this becoming more valuable to their local clients who are pursuing an Agile transformation."
As a faculty member for DAU's executive courses, Wong has been well-positioned to hear student needs and see the Agile writing on the wall.
"Three years ago, I became an early adopter of SAFe, because I saw the demand signal from industry and the DoD community," Wong said. "That signal has been increasing and, with this class, we are getting DAU in a better strategic position to grow our Agile toolbox and partner with our clients."
Agile practitioner courses like this are just the first step on a much more robust plan to expand Agile capabilities throughout the Department of Defense.
"The short-term vision is to have regionally located SPCs," Wong said, "the long-term vision is to encourage clients to have their own coaches, who will in-turn, be coached by DAU faculty, in a coach-the-coaches arrangement."
Even though there is an emphasis on getting information into the hands of the Defense Acquisition Workforce as quickly as possible, these kinds of strategies take time to unfold -- coaches need to be trained and gain experience in Agile systems. In the meantime, DAU provides several avenues for Agile information, including
, workshops and an ever expanding
body of knowledge on DAU.mil