In this blog series, I’m going to discuss how Jama Connect is a potential game changer for US federal and Department of Defense government program offices. I spent 24 years in the Air Force with 17 of those years in one or another government program office, or as the Air Force likes to call them System Program Offices, or SPOs. Every three to four years, I’d move to a new base and join a new SPO.
My role within the Air Force was that of a “developmental engineer” which is unique to the Air Force. None of the other Services have a direct counterpart to that role, and the closest comparison I’ve come up with in industry is what happens when you mix a solution architect, enterprise architect, and technical project manager together. My job was to take user generated requirements and then to deliver systems that meet those requirements.
Practically all of my career in the Air Force was in dealing with requirements. Sometimes it was the Federal Acquisition Regulations, sometimes it was a Statement of Work (SOW), and other times it was the actual technical requirements for one weapons system or another. After I retired from the Air Force I joined a very large enterprise IT company and that is where I first encountered Jama Software. It didn’t take long after being exposed to Jama Connect that I realized how this cloud-based requirements management system could have improved my life in the Air Force, if we just had Jama Connect and used it effectively.
After annoying people at Jama Software that I now count as my friends for years, they have given me the opportunity to share my views with you. To put this in perspective, I am not a Jama Software employee, not paid in anyway by them, and yet I’m investing a significant amount of my time to write these blog posts. I do this because I want to make life in any government program office to be better for those today than it was for me. I don’t want it to take a full year to come up to speed for a newly assigned acquisition professional. I don’t want people to flat out forget critical requirements resulting in the waste of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.
As the first step in any 12-step program, the government needs to acknowledge that they have a problem with requirements. I think one of the best written summaries, at least for the DoD, was done by MITRE, and is called Modernizing DoD Requirements. While they do not promote any specific technical solution or platform to support their recommendations, it is easy to understand how Jama Connect would be critical to streamline how those recommendations become reality.
RELATED POST: Checklist: Selecting a Requirements Management Tool
MITRE also released a paper in 2017 that explored the DoD acquisition workforce which identified that over 50% of the workforce would be eligible for retirement in the next 10 years (now 6 years), and that it objectively took a long time to become an expert in this field. This is where technology can make a difference. Any tool, including Jama Connect, that can shorten that learning curve is critical in maintaining the proficiency of the acquisition workforce.
While MITRE focused these two reports on DoD program offices, I could pull similar findings for multiple federal government program offices as well.
I hope I’ve justified why I’m writing this series sufficiently, and I hope you enjoy or at least find useful my take on how Jama Connect can help government program offices improve their core mission of delivering cost effective solutions that meet validated user requirements. I’m breaking this series into six different posts, each addressing a pain point I’ve had to live through and how Jama Connect can improve the processes or outcome of those processes.
As you read this, I do want to highlight that while I’ve offered some screenshots to highlight the requirement management concepts being discussed, the project I created for this was extremely simple. Please don’t read too much into how the Jama Connect project is organized and take this what it is, just an overly simplistic example. Jama Connect is extremely customizable (sometimes to its own detriment), and can be tailored to the item types and workflow required by any specific Program Office.