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Digital Service Maturity Determination

Use this to evaluate and correlate a requiring activities’ organizational maturity in adoption of digital service techniques to the resulting contract action

For use by Contracting Officers and Specialists in acquisition strategy phase

When planning an acquisition strategy for iterative development contracts, such as agile software or human centered design, it is critical for the contracting professional to be able to increase the chance of acquisition success by identifying and mitigating potential performance risks. One method of doing this is to understand the organizational maturity of how culturaly ready for digital service implementations the requiring activity is in order to develop an acquisition strategy that aligns appropriately.

Why does it matter?

An organization that has never worked with these kinds of services might find it difficult to jump right to running a complex coding challenge as part of a solicitation, awarding a large multiple vendor IDIQ/BPA, or knowing how to track and measure success of contract performance in a way that corresponds to delivering the best business value to the end users. Likewise, a mature digital service government team can define and evaluate solution providers to find the kind of company they want to build a solid team and relationship with instead of just finding a company that can hire to projects well.

This Digital Service Maturity Determination tool is one way to understand how ready the organization is and how to apply that knowledge.

The attributes below are representative of the culture, practices, and behaviors of a model digital service organization. In a solicitation the government should be able to be able to openly communicate, not only internally within organization but also externally to offerors, where they are in alignment to these attributes to ensure that the best acquisition expectations & outcomes can be met.

*“Requiring Activity” is the office, program, or agency that is providing the requirements and funding for the purpose of conducting an acquisition.

Instructions

  1. For each attribute, read the description and select the rating that most closely matches the current state of your requiring activity
  2. After completing all 9 attributes your score will be totalled
  3. Your score will put your organization in one of these three ranges:

    Novice: Lack of structure or practice of the attributes, relies on tried and true methods such as waterfall, management and practitioners are interested in change but not yet executing on adopting the cultural and technical changes necessary (9-18 points)

    Intermediate: Begins implementing changes to governance and culture to adopt of model attributes as repeatable processes, starting to qualitatively track metrics and apply lessons learned (19-36 points)

    Expert: Embodies the model attributes, continually refining and optimizing team efforts, proactively building and investing in continuous delivery with end users (37-45 points)

  4. After you complete this assessment and get your range, reference the Digital Acquisition Strategy Guide for best practices to set a solictation and acquisition strategy that optimizes the requiring activity’s level of expertise.

Transparency & Openness

  • Provides a protected “space” (physical location or attitude) for innovation to happen
  • Intensive and frequent communication with the customer and/or end users of the system
  • Team members take responsibility for their area of project but understand the entire project ecosystem
  • Demonstrated ability to foster efficient communication in multiple forms among the teams and the stakeholders
  • Demonstrates willingness and capacity to learn and communicate how lessons are applied
  • Tracks and measures feedback openly and honestly
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Organizational Culture of Delivery

  • Empowered small teams with a focus on delivering quality solutions
  • Indicates a belief in agile and design thinking is evident in the entire culture with an understanding of “WHY” agile/design
  • Values a culture of trust to achieve win/win outcomes evident from management through to contractors
  • There is a healthy work/life balance for team members that capitalizes on high productivity and flexibility
  • There is a stated approach to individual or team incentives
  • Team members are encouraged to speak up and challenge direction in a safe space
  • The hiring practices conveys delivery culture around agile and team, role building, and trust
  • It is a practiced tactic to fail or succeed fast, and know what to do as a result
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Craftsmanship

  • Seeks mastery in the skills exhibited on the team and in cross role understanding/competency
  • Demonstrates the importance of delivery of high quality software at great value
  • Does not allow for backsliding into waterfall approaches, agile-fall, or “cowboy” development practices with no structure
  • Has explicit disciplines, practices, and techniques that demonstrate pride in the work.
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Agile Development Championship

  • Prioritizes the agile manifesto and guiding principles as a standard practice
  • Leadership creates the culture and supportive environment needed for projects to succeed and one which everyone learns from failures
  • Demonstrates a superior ability to analyze situational dynamics in a politically-charged environment and leverage this observational awareness to solve complex problems and remove roadblocks
  • Prioritizes the customer/citizen experience from start to finish
  • Can demonstrate short and long term strategic planning & road mapping
  • Can provide stakeholders with a shared understanding of the user experience and necessary outcomes
  • Correctly defines and utilizes, when appropriate, a Product Vision to drive to desired outcomes
  • A good understanding by all members of the team of the needed system functions and requirements & the relative business value and priority to desired outcomes
  • Can properly scope, estimate and deliver epics & user stories and acceptance criteria based on definition of done
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

User Centered Design

  • Plans a new or re-designed product to meet the needs of specific users.
  • Applies a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods to determine users’ goals, needs, and behaviors
  • Tests prototypes of solutions with real end-users, in the field if possible
  • Shares findings with the product team, stakeholders, and leadership to create a shared understanding of the user experience
  • Leverages data from user research, user testing, and live system feedback (like helpdesks) to prioritize product development
  • There is a focus on process simplicity
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Product Delivery

  • Repeated experience of shipping products to hundreds or thousands of users.
  • Has experience is all parts of a product lifecycle from initial launch, to optimization, to sun-setting.
  • Effectively makes prioritization decisions and manages to deadlines
  • Executes on all steps of the product design process and connects product design to data-driven decisions, broader business goals, and technical requirements.
  • Has product management & design included in management/leadership of product development
  • Understanding of computer systems, such as: typical hardware components, OS internals, systems administration, X-as-a-Service, configuration, and the use of common tools, both COTS or Open Source, to explore and configure the workings of a production system
  • Provides alternative solutions and pathways to achieving outcomes over just one definitive solution
  • Can articulate correctly and accurately what value is being delivered against investments in time, funding, and scope
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Continuous Integration

  • Have established process or plan for organization to move to automated build and test environment
  • Has immediate feedback loops to developers and designers about quality of work
  • Establishes definitions, estimation techniques, and release strategies for all elements of process
  • Uses approaches like Automated Acceptance Testing or Behavior Driven Development
  • Automated testing is included as a de-facto element
  • Implements usability testing, end user testing and feedback loops in the testing process
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Clean Code

  • Demonstrated approach to writing clean code from beginning
  • Includes processes for continuous quality control, code reviews, and regular pair programming
  • Low production bug/error rates are highly valued
  • Codes in the open- transparency and accountability highly supported
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Acquisition

  • Acquisition is executed & administered by a highly trained team of contracting and technical professionals (Digital Service Certified COs/ Product Owners/CORs)
  • Technical evaluators understand the technology and how to write criteria and evaluate companies appropriately
  • Technical evaluation team can execute any “challenge” given to potential offerors to validate it can be done
  • Performance based acquisition & commercial item methods are the standard, focusing on objectives and outcomes to meet mission requirements
  • Has an awareness of market intelligence and understands how to conduct appropriate outreach and market research to vendors with expertise in digital services
  • Implementation of the Digital Service Playbook & TechFAR principles are incorporated in the acquisition strategy
  1. No adoption
  2. Awareness of topics with limited adoption
  3. Adopted some practices
  4. Clear adoption of most practices
  5. All practices adopted into organizational culture

Total

Add the scores from each of the 9 attributes. Compare your score to the digital service maturity levels to find out where your organization stands.

Novice (9 - 18 total points)

Lack of structure or practice of the attributes; relies on tried and true methods such as waterfall; management and practitioners are interested in change but not yet executing on adopting the cultural and technical changes necessary

Intermediate (19 - 36 total points)

Begins implementing changes to governance and culture to adopt of model attributes as repeatable processes; starting to qualitatively track metrics and apply lessons learned

Expert (37 - 45 total points)

Embodies the model attributes, continually refining and optimizing team efforts; proactively building & investing in continuous delivery with end users

Next Step - Use the Digital Acquisition Strategy Guide for best practices to plan your next solicitation!

Now that you have an idea about how ready the requiring activity is for digital service implementation, you can use this acquisition strategy guide to develop the kind of solicitation that is best suited to that readiness level. This is a quick guide to provide the recommended best practices that were developed through lessons learned, and previous acquisitions, and, as any acquisition strategy, can be tailored for the situation.

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