According to the Harvard Business Review article Embracing Agile (May 2016), “Agile innovation methods have revolutionized information technology. Over the past 25 to 30 years they have greatly increased success rates in software development, improved quality and speed to market, and boosted the motivation and productivity of IT teams.”
The problem however is that everyone claims to use agile software development and project management methods but few can prove it. How can anyone prove it? Past performance is certainly a way to assess the performance but doesn’t guarantee future success. Therefore, government is increasingly using coding challenges to evaluate companies for awarding contracts.
This article describes how Infostellar has differentiates itself by winning coding challenges and technical demonstrations, delivering on various agile contracts such as Flexible Agile Development Services (FADS) contracts, demonstrating innovations with the three I approach, and our participation in 8(a) program in conjunction with our proven Agile best practices to minimize risk on federal contracts.
USCIS’ former CIO Mark Schwartz pioneered the use of FADS contract which is designed to provide access to fully integrated agile delivery and to encourage a stronger focus on quality and performance. FADS and other follow on contracts FADS II and ODOS support USCIS’ essential mission critical system Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) which is used to process immigration benefit applications.
As USCIS embraced the Agile journey, Infostellar joined their effort through the Transformation Project, a $3.1 billion high priority program with the goal of modernizing the naturalization and immigration benefit application’s processing operations. The project’s development approach is Agile using contractor developed and open source software.
According to a congressional audit in 2016, at first USCIS only partially implemented Agile, putting their largest projects at risk of exceeding costs and schedule goals. It was not until some contractors showed the way that USCIS succeeded. One of those was Infostellar which proved that Agile Management best practices and DevOps, when done right could reduce risk, time and costs. As you can see from the Federal Dashboard below, the program improved from high risk to low risk ( as of June 2020)
Grounded in an Agile software development process, Infostellar’s Three I’s approach is what helped the program
to successfully implement agile resulting in reducing program risk over time.
In an article entitled “Show me, don’t tell me’ enters the government contracting mainstream” on the Business of Federal Technology site, author Steve Kelman explains the history of winning awards. According to Kelman the first strategy was based on past performance which he jokingly refers to as when “proposals being delivered to the government by forklift”. Increasingly, federal government is using coding challenges or technical demonstrations as a tool to see the contracting companies in action and evaluate their capabilities while they deliver an MVP over few hours to few days. Infostellar has a proven track record of leading and winning the technical demonstration and coding challenges resulting in awards.
Infostellar with its teaming partners has won several technical demonstrations and coding challenges which in itself is a testament of it’s agile process, technical capabilities, and ability to pull the right team for the right job. Below is a quick summary of the tech demos/challenges that Infostellar has been part of:
Infostellar is a certified participant in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8( a) Business Development
program. This provides us with the ability to obtain sole-source set-aside contracts up to $4M as well as competitive set-aside contracts. Combination of our participation in 8(a) program and our ability to deliver in small increments in a series of minimally viable products (MVPs) using our Agile DevSecOps practices greatly reduces the risk on federal projects.
The two, 8(a) and agile in our opinion are synergistic. The combination of providing award winning agile performance (a-gile) while success with our participation in Small Business 8(a) program results in the acronym “8(a-gile)” which means “we provide world class Agile technology for a low investment risk”. It represents our philosophy of starting small and delivering value on continuous basis.
Infostellar differentiates itself by using Agile DevSecOps practices, be it Coding Challenges/Technical Demonstrations or mission critical contracts such as Flexible Agile Development Services (FADS) supporting USCIS’ ELIS program. Our philosophy is based on the three I’s which stands for: Incremental, Innovative an Interactive. Perhaps our most important differentiation is how we can minimize investment risk with our 8(a-gile) philosphy. The 8(a-gile) combines our participation in SBA’s 8(a) program and award-winning Agile development expertise to reduce risk on federal programs.