Tuesday, June 04, 2013 6:20 PM
I have recently renewed my interest in faceting and have enjoyed faceting several gemstones, including my largest to date, a 31.7 carat spinel. I have been thinking about why I enjoy faceting; what about this hobby engages me. There are in fact several aspects of the process. First, I enjoy transforming a rock, a roughhewn stone, into a lovely, shiny, reflective object. I enjoy seeing the gem emerge; first as the facets are initially cut in, then as the polish is made finer and finer until the facets are perfectly clear windows with each internal face a mirror like surface to reflect light in a brilliant flash. I also enjoy the complexity of working with angles in 3 dimensions, angles that must be repeatable to achieve the cut and subsequent polish of each facet. It’s easy to make a mistake – from calculating angles correctly to prevent light escaping the back of the final gem, to consistently repeating the angles as one goes through the cutting and polishing steps. I enjoy figuring out what design to cut – what fits into the boundaries of the rough and what design will result in the most pleasing outcome. And I enjoy integrating the work of my hands and mind to achieve a desired outcome.
It is certainly far different from my professional life. I have only met a handful of faceters – there appear to be few in the DC metropolitan area – which is also far different than in my professional life. There are many IT professionals in the Washington area. Yet, in many ways faceting is a metaphor for my career choice. I enjoy the process of transforming a process – for InterImage’s customers this occurs through the implementation of technology solutions versus through discs embedded with diamond grit. I enjoy working with customers to create something new, something better, and – like the process of selecting the right design for each individual stone which will reveal the most interesting and best qualities of that stone – identifying the right solution and applying measured innovation to achieve a better outcome. And when the problem is complex, like those angles in 3 dimensions, the challenge of sorting through competing interests, breaking down barriers and creating a solution becomes even more engaging and rewarding.
Life imitates art. In this case, hobby imitates profession. I believe that means my passion for transformation, for achieving something better, for improved outcomes, runs deep.
Friday, June 15, 2012 4:41 PM
We just finished winning (yeah!) two significant contracts, both with major add-on work so there were other incumbents, besides us. We were not as concerned about the possibility of winning as were our team mates. I realized it was because our work with these customers has always been focused on how to advance what they were doing. Four years ago we won the work with no incumbents because our customers wanted to improve their IT posture and customer service. With our customers, we constantly investigated options, planned, implemented, documented and kept improving. When the re-compete occurred, we had satisfied customers. We also had plans on how to continuously raise the IT and service bar for the years to come. Since our work with customers was to keep improving, the re-compete became an opportunity to plan for the next few years and was an exciting time (except the compliance –based writing, of course).
Friday, December 09, 2011 5:04 PM
Tonight is the InterImage holiday party, always a very festive and fun event. This year, after a suggestion from one of our employees, we are raffling off some gifts, including an iPad, Kindle and Nook. We might get some attempts at “ballot box” stuffing but Angie’s procedures will keep that in check, no doubt to the chagrin of some employees who really want to win. And we always have a gift exchange. Invariably there are those comical gifts that make everyone laugh and the super desirable gifts that get swiped when a subsequent gift opener elects to take vs open. Then there is the disappointment when it discovered that the desirable gift has been stolen 3 times – that’s the limit. And the glee of the final holder of that gift! No matter what each person ends with, it is always a memorable time.
More important, it’s a great opportunity for John and I to again thank our hardworking, dedicated staff for the fantastic work that they do. We have such a great team of star performers, and a team that genuinely enjoys working together for the benefit of our customers. So to our employees, thank you and happy holidays. To our customers, happy holidays and thank you for enabling this gem of a company, made a gem by our marvelous employees, to exist. And to our visitors, let me just say you are missing out if you don’t work for or with InterImage!
Wednesday, October 05, 2011 2:39 PM
It’s been a very busy time at InterImage with exciting results. Of course, our FAA team is extremely busy with pending deliverables for our UCS contract and a schedule that has the first module released to production just months away. It’s called delivering on our promise of rapid iterations and we are! And, at FBI our stellar team continues to prove their worth. Our customer has responded by expanding our tasking and asking us to take over some work that is in serious jeopardy. We are pulling out all stops to make sure the development gets back on track and the deployment schedule is met. It’s nice to know that our customers have the confidence to turn to InterImage when they need help.
We gained some new customers at year end, and a number of new employees to welcome to our growing company. InterImagers, you will receive the next newsletter soon with profiles on all our new folks. I have linked to the press releases so you can read more about our new customers. In brief, we are providing a range of IT support services to the Army Northern Regional Medical Command. We rapidly transitioned that work and the team is already up and running. And, with our depth of Metastorm expertise, we are helping USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service upgrade applications. We have also been tapped by another customer in FBI for our Metastorm expertise, and that customer is already amazed by our results. Our great reputation just continues to grow thanks to the stellar work of all of our InterImagers!
Friday, July 15, 2011 2:53 PM
I am excited to announce that InterImage has been awarded a major contract with the Federal Aviation Administration for the Unified Contract System (USC). Successes like these display InterImage’s unique ability to provide streamlined process based solutions to solve critical problems, in this case in the acquisition arena. This contract along with our previous successes and awards continues to demonstrate the excellent, innovative solutions we provide to our customers across the government, and continues to demonstrate our brand as the go to company for Business Process Management solutions, regardless of platform.
The UCS contract entails automation, modernization and integration of the FAA’s procurement processes and supporting systems. UCS will bring tremendous benefit to FAA in terms of significant efficiency improvements in the procurement processes and its overall acquisition cycle as well as cost reductions which will be realized in part by eliminating redundant and paper-based processes. You can read the press release at http://WWW.IIMAGE.COM/about/news.aspx.
Now that InterImage has won the contract, the real work begins. Just as with all our customers, we will roll up our sleeves and dive in to making the dream a reality. Stay tuned for more exciting news on Team InterImage!
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 6:20 PM
It’s been a tremendously busy few weeks responding to proposals and RFIs, preparing for the AFCEA Energy and Environment IT Day and other general activities. Among the general activities, I did attend the White House forum on Transforming Federal IT Mangement. This was an update to the December White House briefing when the 25 Point Implementation Plan was announced. Jeffery Zients, US Chief Performance Officer, opened with discussion on how the federal sector has significantly lagged the private sector in terms of productivity gains. He noted that the positive in this news was that the government had a “late mover” advantage – an opportunity to leverage technology and experience to jump to a new level of productivity. Next, Vivek Kundra, Federal CIO discussed progress made on the 6 month goals outlined in the 25-Point Implementation Plan. In all but 2 areas (those dealing with working with Congress) Vivek reported that they are on or ahead of schedule. Then, Daniel Poneman DOE; Kathleen Merrigan USDA; Richard Spires DHS; Roger Baker, VA spoke on their agency’s accomplishments. For example, Daniel talked about their move to the cloud and the benefits it has generated in terms of flexibility, improved IT capabilities and reduced costs. Kathleen also talked about USDA’s efforts to move email to the cloud. Richard talked about best practices, the challenges he faced trying to access best practices and efforts underway to improve information sharing around best practices. And, Roger gave a pitch for TechStats (program evaluations) and how that has saved VA millions. Of course, Congress has taken some of those savings back so the savings don’t necessarily benefit the missions, but in this environment, it’s the right thing to do.
Tomorrow I chair the AFCEA Energy and Environment IT Day. It’s a great line up of speakers so stay turned for a posting on that event on Thursday.
Thursday, April 07, 2011 4:11 PM
Last night found a curious coincidence of timing. (it might be somewhat redundant to use the words "coincidence" and "timing" in the same sentence) Two nights ago I posted a blog entry about my experince entering into the world of iPad. I closed that blog with a comment certifying the visionary brilliance of Steve Jobs. Last night Leslie and I went to a play at Woolly Mammoth Theater entitled "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." As we were heading off to the play and found that amusingly curious. But then we say the play.
First a little background on our experience with theater. Leslie and I have been season ticket holders at multiple theaters for over two decades. We currently have season tickets at the Shakespeare Theater, The Folger Theater and Woolly Mammoth. We've also had season tickets for multiple years at The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage and Signature Theater. Plus we've seen single plays at many other theaters. We obviously really like live theater and have certainly gone to more plays over the years than movies. We have seen literally hundreds of plays at excellent theaters and most of the plays have been very good to excellent as well. I relate this information only to give context to "Wow !"
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is a one man presentation of theater. Mike Daisey is a self-proclaimed life-long techno geek and a journalist. He is both the creator and performer of this play. It is at the same time amusing, engaging, poignant, personal, absolutely hilarious, informative and moving. That's a lot. It delivers in spades on all accounts. It is very rare the we've seen a play so much fun, so interesting and so moving all at once.
I am making this post to encourage everyone who sees this to get to the Woolly Mammoth Theater and see The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs while it is still here. It runs until April 17. Find the time, steal it from somewhere out of your life, make it happen. You will walk out of the theater thinking that you’re glad you took the time to go. Spread the word, tell your friends. The theater is small, there's really not a bad seat in the house. There's a bit of cursing for sure, but there was a large contingent of high school girls in the theater last night so take teenagers. It would be good. The teenagers there stood in applause at the end.
I sometimes make a recommendation to someone if I think they, in particular, will find a play interesting. I can't recall making such a sweeping recommendation, however. Anyone in our industry should see this. If you've ever had or used an Apple product you will identify with parts of it. His look-back accounting of the history of Apple and Steve Jobs is done is a captivating sort of way that is also very interesting and informative.
But there is much, much more. If you have an iPhone, iPod or really any kind of electronic device this play will be relevant to you. You will most definitely laugh, a lot! Mike Daisey's style of humor is fantastically, almost fanatically on target. You won't cry, but you will never be quite the same. And he tells you that and when he does you realize that you can't deny it. Don't ask me in the kitchen what I mean by that. I don't have his story telling ability and the message would be lost as I took things out of context from the play. It would be far better discussed between people who have seen it.
But it is also completely true that we, the somewhat jaded theater goers, experienced something last night we are unlikely to forget for the rest of our lives. Now THAT'S some rare and excellent theater!
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 8:03 PM
My iPad 2 showed up two weeks ago. I’m already surprised how much I’m using it. It seems to never be far from me. I really did not expect this. My iPhone has been a more or less constant companion since the first generation iPhone was released. My current phone is the iPhone 4 because my nice, white iPhone 3gs met the ocean back in November. For those of you who don’t know, salt water is not good for iPhones. In fact, it’s so bad that should your iPhone ever encounter salt water, and the salt water gets into the iPhone, you should immediately dunk the device in fresh water…. a lot! Shake it around and try to rinse out the salt water. The phone won’t work afterwards, but usually it is easily repaired from a fresh water soaking. Salt water, on the other hand, well, as I learned that is a one way trip for the poor little iPhone.
But I digress. So I thought I really had the convenience and usefulness of the iPhone+apps sort of capability well integrated into my life. So why did I want the iPad? For the size, primarily. I’ve read a few books on my iPhone and while that may seem strange, it’s only strange for the first couple of pages. Then I would just get absorbed in the book and it was no longer odd at all. And I’ve read a ton of documents and articles. From time to time I did muse that it might be nice to have a larger format. The iPad is a very expensive Kindle replacement, however. And it doesn’t have anywhere near the battery life of a dedicated reader like the Kindle. So why else did I NEED an iPad? I didn’t have a good answer for that, your honor.
There was Judy Cohen showing up to meetings with her fancy iPad taking notes by writing right on the screen with her very high tech looking stylus. There was the occasional frustration of navigating complex webpages on the small iPhone screen. But I’m pretty good at that by now and I wasn’t spending that much time on webpages on my iPhone anyway. Maybe it was the lure of a much larger map screen when I needed to use a GPS while driving. Plus I could watch movies and TV, streaming them from Netflix and Hulu. I could do that on my phone, but the screen is a little small. It kind of reminded me of the very tiny portable TVs that around in the 70’s. 2.5 inch screens, black and white, more of a novelty than anything else.
The first time I knew that I REALLY WANTED one was last summer riding back from New York on the train. There was a person across the aisle and one row up from me reading something like a newspaper or magazine on an iPad. I was also reading the New York Times…. on my iPhone. That had never bothered me in the past. In fact I loved it! I had the New York Times with me all the time because my phone was always with me. It was fantastic. But as I sat eyeing that big clear screen, the way the pages flipped like in a book as opposed to scrolling up or down every half dozen lines, oh man! I REALLY WANTED an iPad!
So I decided that I had to at least explore the idea of getting one. As I entered iPad world I was immediately confronted with the IPAD RUMOR MILL. It seemed like there was always an "expert", an "extremely well informed person" or the ultimate in sources "a high level Apple employee" saying the new iPad 2 would be announced in just a few weeks. Arrrg! I was frozen by the anticipation for the next, the better, the best!
Christmas came and went. No iPad. My birthday came and went. No iPad. More promises. More dates come and gone with no announcement. Oh when would this cruelty end?
My iPad did finally show up, obviously. I use it constantly. I’ve ported over all of my existing iPhone apps. Some I subsequently deleted, though I’ve kept most. But I’ve added many. Some are just iPad specific versions of apps I already had on my iPhone. However most are new. 22 so far. and I need more!
So how do I use this marvel from the world of Apple? I read on it constantly. I now have many new news sources. Most are science and technology related somehow, though I have multiple apps that are for general news. Seems like one source just isn’t enough these days. I also have a great app for taking notes in longhand on the touch screen, purchase inspired by Ms. Cohen, as well as an app that gives me much of the functionality of MS Office. Entry is by keyboard, at which I’m getting better despite the lack of touch feedback from actual movable keys. I can also watch movies and TV from HULU and Netflix, which I haven’t yet done. But I have shown a number of people the fabulous Kia Soul Hamsters on Youtube. That has already made me popular with people I don’t even know. (it’s the 3 minute, 47 second version, btw) And of course there is Angry Birds!
The iPad is great for email and reading documents or, mainly because it’s so easy to always have with me, plus there is no boot up. I open the smart cover and it is instantly on, as in before I can get the cover rolled all the way back. It’s also fantastic for doing research on the web. I’m reading a new book and while the iPhone was just fine for reading books, this is great. Again, partially because it’s so easy to always have with me. And of course I can do all the really important things like find movies/times and watch trailers and buy tickets, make dinner reservations, identify constellations and track satellites and the International Space Station. I haven’t Skyped yet. I guess I need to do that soon…..
In the end I have to admit this purchase was originally a splurge. I was spoiling myself and I knew it. I didn’t actually need an iPad, I just really wanted one. And of course if the iPad were to go away tomorrow I’d obviously survive. I can certainly live without it. But I don’t want to. I am very surprised at how much I use it, how much benefit it has brought in so many different directions in my life. As it turns out, Steve Jobs was right when he said "this will change everything."
Monday, April 04, 2011 10:45 AM
John and I attended the AFCEA Bethesda Children’s Inn Gala Saturday evening. It was a really lovely event, not only because of the cause, but also it was executed so well. The room was filled with IT execs, about 900 of them, and everyone looked dazzingly. Interestingly, the event attracted at least one couple from outside our community. This couple that I am referring to has a granddaughter that suffers from Leukemia so they signed up for the event to show their support. They knew no one, but were engaging and seemed to enjoy themselves. When at times it seems we live and breathe the IT community, it’s nice to interact with those that do something totally different. The oddest part of the evening is that I had 4 separate conversations with people in business development that work at large companies that have just changed jobs or are about to start their new job. Coincidently, we also have a new business development person starting today – Fran Vogel. We are excited to welcome Fran to the InterImage team.
Friday, March 25, 2011 1:20 PM
I attended the AFCEA Bethesda Advisory Board meeting this morning. The intent of the meeting was to have a discussion on potential AFCEA Bethesda programs over the next year – to get our Government advisor’s input and insights into what would constitute valuable programs. There were a number of interesting comments, but one part of the discussion in particular struck me. And, it harkened back to one of my earlier blog posts. It is around the concept of rapid development approaches (fill in the blank: agile, iterative, incremental) and the impacts of those on program management and acquisition. While there is some success with these in government, as one of our advisors pointed out, one agency he knew about having success was achieving that in spite of misaligned acquisition vehicles. There is still a long way to go before the implications of these approaches – and as I noted in my earlier post, the implications are distinctly different based on whether agile, iterative or incremental is pursued – are appropriately accommodated within government program management processes and, especially, contract vehicles. Fundamentally, there needs to be more education before a robust dialogue on the topic can occur.
Thursday, March 24, 2011 3:00 PM
It’s taken most of the week to come up for air between proposals and RFI’s, but I finally have a moment to reflect on the Women’s Center Leadership Conference last Saturday. One comment made by a speaker was that if it was a conference for men, it would not be held on a Saturday! Of course, that got a nice laugh from the 800 women and about 10 men attending. This year’s conference was spectacular, from the thought provoking opening keynote by Carla Harris, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley (amazingly energetic, captivating and insightful) to the entertaining interview with the Georgetown Cupcake sisters regarding their phenomenal success to the engaging speech by Norah O’Donnell who has traveled the world and influenced and been influenced. That would have been enough but there was more. It was moving to hear the story of General Ann Dunwoody, the first (only) woman 4 star officer. And I enjoyed a breakout session on Managing Your Personal Brand. The speaker talked about the 5 P’s: persona, product, packaging, promotion and permission. She was right on track. It was interesting to learn that Newsweek projects that by 2012, women will own half the wealth in the US. Yet, women owned businesses struggle to receive even 5% of Government contracts. That struck me as an interesting contrast. Bottom line, it was a thought provoking day in which I was surrounded by women, some who have paved the way for others, some who have achieved success, and some who are emerging leaders. It was indeed inspirational.
Friday, March 18, 2011 8:38 AM
I started writing this blog to introduce myself as David did, and I immediately ran into a quandary. My business card says I'm Vice President of Client Services. On this website, I am listed as VP of Customer Services. While my job is clear (I will save that for a later blog), as I consider the nuances between the meanings of “customer” and “client,” I'm wondering which title is more accurate. To me, a customer is seeking a definable product or service -- say, for example, our team’s day-to-day work. They tackle components of a whole project as specific deliverables. Once they do their jobs well and deliver the desired product or service, the "customer" will (hopefully) come back for more, creating a business relationship. A transaction with a "client" looks basically the same. What I see as the key difference is that it involves a higher level of trust and a problem that requires specialized and skilled resources, is multidimensional and has layers that reveal themselves over time. In other words, the customer sits inside the client like a Russian nesting doll. So, organizations and agencies hire InterImage to deliver technology projects that transform how they do business. We have specialized, skilled staff and the issues we work on (including the non-technology influences) are complex. On the one hand, I oversee our project managers to make sure specific work products are delivered to our customers. On the other hand, I help our teams work with clients to manage the inevitable course adjustments as projects evolve and help prepare their organizations for change. What do you see as the difference between customers and clients? Which relationship do you want (whichever side of the contract you're on)? Which do you usually get? And what should my title be?
Thursday, March 10, 2011 7:27 AM
Ever notice how much more accurate people are with respect to time these days? Maybe for some, it's too much of a stretch to remember when clocks were analog and if you asked what time it was the answer would be something like, "Quarter to four." Clocks had hands that moved around a dial and they had to be reset relatively frequently to keep them close to "real" time.
Now days I just pull out my phone and there on the face it tells me the time to within a second or two of what it really is. Since mobile phones and other devices that keep time accurately are ubiquitous we have moved into an era where expectations with respect to timeliness are higher. For instance, in the 80's late to a meeting was 5+ minutes, now late to a meeting is 2 minutes. Technology has changed the standard by which we judge timeliness.
Analogously, computers are changing the standards that affect how people work. Take case management for instance. It used to be that people tracked cases using 3x5 cards, spreadsheets, or maybe mainframe or Access applications. Now they are using advanced workflow systems to categorize and type the subject matter, apply business rules to validate and verify data accuracy, and push case folders through the organization. In the past it may be that they tracked 10 to 20 items of data per case. Now they track 50 to 100 or more.
At InterImage, we specialize in building systems that automate human-centric processes. When we do this we change the standard of performance by which the people who use those systems are judged. It's important that the systems we build support those users in living up to the higher standards and increased expectations of their management. Something to think about.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011 2:27 PM
David, I know its your turn on the blog but I am jumping in with this post. I spent the last several days at the Federal IT Summit, held in Beaver Creek, CO. Days were filled with skiing and evenings with discussion with a number of IT execs and a few family members. It was a wonderful group to hang out with, resulting in lots of laughter as well as thought provoking discussion. It was interesting talking to people at various stages in their careers, from Kalen Y., Dendy’s daughter just about to start residency as an ENT surgeon with carefully thought through reasons for why she wants to be a surgeon and pursue that specialty, to Jim K who is now in semi-retirement finding a new path for staying engaged and enjoying other pursuits. There were also a couple of teens, including Chris A., Tom’s son who is exploring his passion for photography and wondering what that means in terms of finding a career path. Most of us were somewhere in the middle, in executive roles in large, mid-tier and small businesses.
I reflected this morning on what I learned these last few days. It is fascinating to think about the different attendee’s approach to skiing and how that reflects their approach at work. John and I spent most of our time skiing with Kevin P who is fast and agile and always in perfect balance. That fits Kevin – he is always calm and focused, rolls with whatever is thrown at him, stays in balance. We spent one afternoon with Bob G who skis with abandon – not reckless abandon, just a casualness , succeeding in traveling difficult terrain seemingly without notice. He has been quite successful growing and selling his company to a fortune 100, likely with that same effortlessness that belies savvy, smarts and hard work. And Tom P, who skis with intensity and aggressiveness. Watch him ski and you know he is successful at anything he puts his mind to, and indeed as managing director in an investment banking company, he has succeeded in a cut-throat business. The list goes on. Personalities are discerned through skiing styles.
And me, despite a knee with missing cartilage and a torn ACL, I keep skiing blacks and double blacks and moguls – not nearly as well as I once did but that doesn’t stop me from tackling these. In fact, I am usually the person who is leading the group on the tour of the tough stuff on the mountain. Harold Y. cursed me more than once. And John was none to happy when we ended up at the top of the cliff. But we all found paths down without injury and with the exhilaration of success. Perhaps its crazy given my lame knee – I really don’t like the popping and the pain – but I will conquer the mountain. At the end of the day I hobble around and apply ice and take lots of ibuprofen (thanks Jim) and pray my knee will be good enough to go at it again, because I know I will never be satisfied if I don’t take the challenge. I suppose it’s the same at InterImage. Despite adversity, and there has been plenty along the way, I will keep moving forward, I will keep tackling the government’s challenging problems (investigative case management – nobody has done what InterImage has accomplished; human centric process automation – can’t get much more complex apps but we consistently deliver these). My unassuming nature belies a steely determination. I will succeed; our customers will succeed. And, we will enjoy the process just as the group always enjoys flying down those impossible slopes.
Monday, March 07, 2011 7:15 AM
Ok. So it's my turn. Hmmmm... What to write. Jaye prepare. You've got next week.
So I figure the first thing to do is introduce myself. I'm David Holliday, Vice President of Technical Services. I provide oversight, and sometimes hands-on leadership, to all the technical projects at InterImage. I support Project Managers in determining technical approach and planning. I work with Jaye Helferd, Vice President of Customer Services, on staffing and resources. I report to Leslie Steele, and support both her and John Steele on priorities, alignment and strategy. And finally, I work with Technical Leads and Project Teams on implementation strategies and solution approaches.
I'm a long time veteran of the IT industry. For over 28 years, in one way or another, I've made my living in the technical arena. I've pretty much done, led, or been associated with just about everything associated with IT. But my real passion is software system development and, for the last 10+ years, Business Process Management (BPM). In that regard, you could say I'm an original. I was building BPM solutions and leading BPM development teams before Gartner coined the term. But that's another story.
For now I want to welcome you to the InterImage Executive Blog. I'll be posting a couple more times this week and then again in the future as we rotate posters. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Let us know what you think. If there are any topics you would like to see discussed let us know that too. Until then, have a great day.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 1:42 PM
Last week was budget week. On Friday I attended an AFCEA Bethesda breakfast on, again, the FY 2012 Federal IT Budget. This time I (and 400 of my closest friends!) heard from a panel including Tom Temin (moderating), Vivek Kundra, Richard Spires (DHS CIO), and Roger Baker (VA CIO). Vivek talked about some of the same issues I noted in my post yesterday, and Richard and Roger brought those to life with agency examples. I won’t rehash but will point out a couple items of note.
At one point Richard said that within DHS they are looking from a portfolio perspective across agencies and are finding duplicative systems. He gave the example of COPS (not like Army COPS, this is common operating) and noted they have 16 of these systems across DHS but likely need 1 which can be customized to meet unique, disparate agency needs. Certainly I applaud efforts such as this to rationalize a Department’s application portfolio (some of you may remember the great work we did for NavFac rationalizing their portfolio of apps, moving from thousands to about a hundred and earning NavFac an egov award in the process). The difficulty in this environment is that eliminating especially GOTS typically requires investment to either bring the capabilities of the chosen core app up to meet the broader demands of the larger user base or to build/customize a new app that meets requirements across the user base. And, it requires investment to “rationalize” the business processes, typically disparate, across the agencies, which must happen before the development investment. No matter what, it takes investment to produce subsequent savings. Yet in this environment, finding those investment dollars is difficult. Of course, the good news for InterImage is that, when investment dollars are found, our core capability is working with users across organizations to create common processes and deploying new solutions that automate those processes, enabling retirement of legacy systems. Our tremendous success in performing this challenging work will bring us new opportunities as agencies gain appreciation for the value of BPM.
Both Roger and Richard talked about both incremental and iterative development. Both of these approaches, which are distinctly different, present challenges when RFP’s state that the agency SDLC must be followed. Virtually without exception, these include a set of deliverables that are tied to a waterfall approach. Shoehorning incremental (particularly our iterations within increments approach) into a waterfall framework becomes a frustrating exercise that doesn’t benefit anyone. While there is recognition, desire within gov to take advantage of rapid app dev approaches, and to see tangible progress at frequent intervals, barriers still need to be knocked down to clear the path for true rapid approaches, not just gamed approaches. I also believe that more education on rapid approaches - incremental, iterative/spiral/agile – is needed. Some folks I have talked to don’t really understand the distinctions and lump them all together. Greater understanding will help in the effort to knock down those barriers.
Monday, February 28, 2011 11:11 AM
I attended a briefing by Vivek Kundra on the FY 2012 IT Budget last Thursday, with a subtitle “Cutting what we cannot afford & deploying game-changing technologies”. To keep all of you up-to date on current federal IT leadership thinking, key points included:
- In total the requested FY2012 IT budget will increase slightly compared to FY 2010. (It’s hard to throw FY 2011 in that mix given that we are operating under a CR.) The real news is that some agencies have large increases and others large decreases. We will be looking closely at the details behind these numbers in the agencies that we are targeting.
- There’s a focus on fixing large IT projects. Vivek made an interesting point: there is no burning desire to shut down projects because there is clear recognition of the level of effort to get the funding for these; rather the focus is on turning underperforming projects around so that value is attained. He sited the value achieved already from the TechStat reviews in which significantly accelerated delivery was achieved in 1/3 of the 38 projects reviewed. The good news is that well performing IT projects is good for our industry as a whole. Those failed projects that get splashed across the front page taint perceptions of IT and the ROI provided from IT, making it that much harder for non-IT folks (Congress) to understand why it is important to fund IT.
- The effort to eliminate at least 800 data centers continues to move forward, and this is just the first step. As infrastructure is consolidated it will produce significant cost savings in the baseline O&M expense. And, as the government moves from a model of asset ownership to one of service provisioning, both trends will free up money for mission supporting apps – good news for InterImage. Now many agencies spend over half their IT budget on infrastructure.
- Security continues to be front and center but activities such as continuous monitoring, activities that focus on truly improving the security posture vs reporting on security, are putting the attention where it needs to be put.
- Mobility of apps will become increasingly important. In fact, Vivek’s view is that no new apps should be architected today without mobility in mind.
- $20 billion in spending will shift to the cloud in the next 2-3 years. The first apps to go are email, and success has already been achieved. But, there are also plans to move some workflow and business intelligence apps to the cloud. That said, Vivek noted that the government’s large scale efforts to consolidate/automate workflows in the past have often met with failure – an opportunity for us with our past success. Given our core competency in BPM and automating workflows, we will monitor trends here carefully.
There was more but this is long enough for a blog entry. We will continue to monitor and participate in the dialogue on our changing federal IT environment in which taking advantage of new IT capabilities is seen as a key to drive cost savings and improve service. And your executive team will continue to keep you informed so that you can effectively dialogue with your customers – another way we add value to our customers!
Friday, February 25, 2011 5:19 PM
Busy week but a lot got done. Big proposal went in, fingers crossed. And the team delivered the oral presentation they were working on. They told me they feel really good about how it went. They should. It’s a really solid team. It’s so hard to know for sure, though, there’s so much intangible. It’s hard to tell for sure if you’re saying the things people are hoping to hear. But it’s a great team so I have to have a lot of confidence that they knocked it out of the park. And last but certainly not least we've luanched our new website! Way to go to all you who worked on it!! Thanks....
Also, Leslie went to the White House yesterday for a briefing by the CIO of OMB, Vivek Kundra. Mr. Kundra had lot’s to talk about for sure and I think I’ll leave it up to Leslie to cover most of that. One thing of interest that she reported to me is that he talked about the fact that, despite some appearances, the Administration’s goal is not to eliminate a lot of initiatives but to focus on improving the efficiency of delivering those products and services. Like everyone, I applaud that goal. One thing that has always frustrated/angered me is that when IT projects get completely out of control or run on and on with no willingness to deploy, those projects end up wasting huge sums of money that could go to furthering other IT efforts that help our Federal customer deliver more service to the nation, more efficiently. I like to think this administration is on the right track on this topic.
I gather Mr. Kundra also addressed the topic of a shut down. He talked about how the Administration is working to plan for such an eventual possibility. I must add that the possibility of a shutdown is truly upsetting. It seems that there are too many people in leadership roles right now who are more attached to an ideological agenda than to the true needs of the nation and the associated realities and responsibilities of leadership. I know that people reading this will have differing views about just which “leaders” may bear the most responsibility. But as I said before, we definitely need cooler heads to prevail. While forcing a government shutdown may give some an opportunity to show their power and vent their spleen, it will in fact cause considerable disruption and harm and in the end provide little to no benefit. Yes, we do need to find some cooler heads....
And on a sad note, I learned today that Angela's grandfather has passed away. We're so very sorry, Angela.
Tonight Leslie and I are off to the French Embassy to see the Mezcal Jazz Unit. Apparently they’ve been a sensation all over Europe for a couple of decades. I think this is supposed to be their first performance in the U.S. Exciting!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 11:15 PM
Saw Cymbeline at the Shakespeare Theater with Jaye and Allan tonite. Good story, if a bit convoluted…. but then it is Shakespeare. It’s one of his last plays and is apparently very rarely staged, so the was a treat. We all agreed the casting was odd and didn’t help the play at all. The male lead of Posthumus just doesn’t deliver the voice and stage presence of a bold romantic lead. His arch rival seems equally out of place in his role. But the critics apparently loved it so what do we know....
Over diner we discussed the current political events in the Arab World. It is a wildfire, as if the area has been soaking in gasoline (no pun intended) for many years and now Tunisia has thrown a match on it. That led to a conversation about Wisconsin. What’s going on there has been compared by some in the pundit industry as being like Egypt, but that’s a pretty massive stretch. Allan succinctly pointed out, though, that there is one powerful similarity, in that in both environs it is a large, popular, non-violent protest against the abuse of power. Then we talked about the possibility of a failed continuing resolution and a Fed Gov shutdown. Much worry. How do we get through that, as a company and as people who work for a company? How long could it go on? What happens to customers we support and projects and deadlines? We are hopeful that cooler heads will prevail. But somewhat like the Middle East, our Congress and even our entire political landscape right now seems to have a quality of being a mixture of gasoline and a match. Cooler heads are most definitely needed.
Saturday, February 19, 2011 10:55 PM
Leslie and I went to Johnny’s Half Shell on Capitol Hill and saw our inimitable dir of network, Paul, play piano in a 4 piece Jazz band. YOW! We had nooo idea! Jaye had told me on Friday that she and Allan went last Saturday and were amazed at how good the band is and in particular how amazingly good Paul is. So we had to go and check this out. YOW!. I had no idea you could run up and down a keyboard so fast, and at times with music you were seeing for the first time! Most impressive, Mr. Crimi, most very impressive. You must be able to enter IP addresses faster than anyone on the planet!