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The Program Executive Office for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital) used Agile software development framework to deliver Flank Speed in a quarter of the time for which it was originally planned.
On June 8, 2021, large groups of the Navy workforce received access to the Microsoft Office 365 (M365) collaboration and productivity environment known as Flank Speed. Spearheaded by the PEO Digital, Flank Speed improves network security, enhances command and control, and over time will deliver additional tools to support a more productive work environment for more than 750,000 users across the Navy. Flank Speed delivers an enduring solution for distributed workforce operations just as the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment was sunset in June 15, 2021.
While Flank Speed provides the department with enhanced technical capabilities for collaboration and communication, it also serves as an example of the future of PEO Digital’s new way of work using the Agile framework of software development.
“Flank Speed is a cloud-based productivity suite of tools that provides the Navy’s workforce with a more effective way to work and collaborate in a distributed fashion,” said Barry Tanner, acting executive director of PEO Digital Enterprise Services. “But more than that, Flank Speed is an opportunity to affect culture change. By using the Agile framework in Flank Speed, we were able to learn, adapt and deliver the platform faster than what was originally expected.”
The Agile framework for software development is considerably different than the traditional acquisition approach. Using a traditional method, the customer orders a product and then waits for it to be created and delivered. However, over time the needs and requirements for which the product is created may change, alter or cease to exist altogether, resulting in a product that no longer fits the customer’s requirements. But the Agile framework for acquisition includes the customer’s feedback as the product is being developed, delivering a more effective and efficient product in a fraction of the time.
“In the traditional acquisition process, you get to a certain point where the customer looks at the product and says, ‘Wait, this isn’t right.’ That is the traditional way of doing business,” said Andrew Tash, PEO Digital’s technical director and Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer’s chief architect. “But with the Agile framework we used during the development of Flank Speed, the customer is brought along for the journey and gets to prioritize product features throughout the entire process.”
Flank Speed served as a case study operated through the newly formed Digital Workplace Services portfolio, one of eight portfolios and three pillars comprising PEO Digital’s new organizational structure. The results of the case study are evident. By using a traditional acquisition approach to software development, Flank Speed was projected to take 24 months to develop and deliver. However, using the Agile framework for software development, the initial Flank Speed capability was developed and being delivered in just six months — 18 months ahead of schedule.
“It is important to highlight that while the term Flank Speed is correctly used to describe the delivery of the M365 environment, it also represents a new way of working for PEO Digital. The lessons learned and best practices gained from this initial lighthouse initiative, referred to as Flank Speed will be the foundation of how we transform Service Delivery across the entirety of the PEO Portfolio,” said Basam Hasan, PEO Digital’s Transformation Management Office director. “Flank Speed reimagines how PEO Digital delivers IT services at Naval Enterprise scale. It highlights the need for further training, increased delegation, and pushes decision-making to the lowest level to empower Navy employees to make informed decisions in their areas of expertise.”
Flank Speed serves as an example of PEO Digital’s new standard of work. It is not, however, a one size fits all solution. The approach to this new standard of delivery varies depending on factors like the personnel involved and the products provided. According to Tanner, “Flank Speed provides significant lessons for our organization because it delivered on the core services PEO Digital provides in an entirely new way. We now have the opportunity to look back and say, ‘Hey, what worked? What didn’t? How should we adjust from here?’ and apply that learning to PEO Digital at large. It won’t be a perfect process, there will be bumps along the way, but I am confident that using Flank Speed as a lighthouse, we can continue on our journey to a more productive, effective and efficient PEO Digital workforce.”
About PEO Digital
The Program Executive Office for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital) is the Department of the Navy's (DON) information technology (IT) networks, enterprise software, digital infrastructure, and hardware services provider. PEO Digital is positioned for flexible delivery of IT services to a broad spectrum of users, and is digitally transforming systems to deliver modern capabilities and technologies to help the DON maintain a competitive edge while connecting Sailors and Marines around the globe.
Originally published in CHIPS Magazine: