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The US Small Business Administration certifies Agile Federal Services into the HUBZone Program

Agile Federal Services (AFS) is one of the leading consulting company with expertise in Healthcare, Program Management, and Technology services has been certified by US Small Business Administration (SBA) as an HUBZone firm.

The Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Empowerment Contracting Program is administered by the SBA to encourage economic development in underutilized business zones. The US Federal Government sets the annual procurement goal for contracting with HUBZone firms at 3% of total contracting activities, with HUBZone prime contracts estimated at over the US $15 Billion. In recent years, most Federal Agencies have underperformed to the 3% goal. Eligible HUBZone firms can receive Sole Source and Set Aside Contracts, as well as a 10% Price Evaluation Preference on Full and Open Contracts.

In addition to the HUBZone certification, AFS is also an Economically Disadvantaged Owned Small Business, Minority Owned Small Business and Emerging Small Business. Because of unique coverage of all Socio-Economic programs, Federal Agencies that award contracts to AFS receive performance credit toward all goal programs.

AFS Chief Technology Officer, Asghar Ali, commented on the HUBZone certification, “We are pleased to receive this significant certification, it is important to us as a company to expand our socio-economic programs, continue development in Historically Underutilized Business Zones and work with Federal agencies as their technology partners” Mr. Ali also went on to say, “HUBZone certification fits with our goal to hire, train, and employ qualified people from our HUBZone, with a particular emphasis on Service Disabled Veterans and improve the community as a whole”.

AFS has identified Issues / Tips in SDLC process

Application Development is a critical point of focus for security matters. Aside from that two known issues are mistakes and problems during the SDLC. Mistakes are known as human error, well developers are human and are prone to errors. Problems with communication during the designing phase between client and developer leading to misaligned goals. Here we will cover more common problems that developers are faced during the SDLC and provide tips to avoid those in the future.

Communication During Initial Phase

It appears this is the biggest problem during the requirements gathering or defining stage and all because something wasn’t communicated properly between both parties. A methodology such as AGILE, things are moving quicker. Most lose track of their priorities because things are constantly changing. Some Team members are afraid to ask questions from the client.  Remember no question is stupid you’re asking it because you want to understand the process and do it right the first time.

Practice the following:

  • Constantly communicate with client
  • Set up meetings with client or teammates for clarity

Management/Scheduling

Sometimes inexperienced personnel are put on a role of project manager through leveraging relationships or could be a misunderstanding of a person’s skills, and budget limits play a role. Mismanaging project by an inexperienced person can raise issues such as bad estimation of the time requires fulfilling each phase or forcing workloads when not enough time frame due to budget restrictions.

Practice the following:

  • Create a routine for specific activities, and stick with the plan.
  • Optimize time for different meetings

The Project Management and System Development Lifecycles

Below is an illustration consists of four main phases, each comprising certain processes, with each process producing certain Project Management deliverables.

 Development or “Late requests”

The issue is when an end-user decides to request a feature to be added in due to change in their vision or realizing it too late. This simple request on the end-user behalf can have large implications for the development team. In some cases, this type of requests will require rework from the bottom up. This type of problem is not always avoidable but is mitigated through ensuring all requirements are fully gathered and having the end-user understand the implications of having “late requests”.

Practice the following:

  • At the start of an iteration, the team takes the highest priority requirements from the top of the stack which they believe they can implement within that iteration.
  • The team develops working software which meets the intent of the requirements. Working closely with stakeholders through the iteration to ensure that they build software which meets their actual needs.
  • The team should do a demo of the working software with a bigger audience to show they actually did what they promised to do.

Testing phase

This phase is the key to ensure that the program works as per the initial vision, and to ensure all security measures/bugs are tested. Any problems that arise from the testing phase are usually resulting from the problem of bad management (not giving enough time to testing because of budget constraints or bad management) specially miscalculating the time required to thoroughly test the product.

Practice the following:

  • When a defect is found, it should be logged in the system and inform developers about the details of the issue.
  • When a developer fixes and creates a new version of the software, make sure to be verified again.

After all, Software development can have many reasons it can go bad, but out of all the common problems mentioned. AFS recommends overcoming them through proper management, properly defining and reiterating requirements and managing time will help keep SDLC in check and on the right path.

AFS has identified the top 5 strategic technologies in 2017 & 2018.

After nearly a decade of “doing more with less,” government CIOs remain under pressure to further optimize IT and business costs while leading digital innovation in the public sector, according to Gartner, Inc. To enable government transformation initiatives, Agile Federal Services has identified the top 5 strategic technologies in 2017 & 2018 and provides recommendations to Public Sector CIOs and IT leaders regarding adoption and benefits. It is not a list of what government CIOs spend the most time or money on, rather it is a list of strategic technologies that AFS recommends they should have a plan for.
1) Digital Government Platforms: Governments face constant pressure to improve service delivery and save costs. Digital platforms reduce effort and facilitate user-centric design. These platforms deliver services such as payments, identity management and verification, reusable application services and notifications (for example, SMS and email) that are commonly used across multiple domains.
2) Analytics Everywhere: Analytics is the collection and analysis of data to provide the insight that can guide actions to increase organizational efficiency or program effectiveness. The pervasive use of analytics at all stages of business activity and service delivery — analytics everywhere — allows leading government agencies to shift from the dashboard reporting of lagging indicators to autonomous business processes and business intelligence (BI) capabilities that help humans make better context-based decisions in real time.
3) Digital Workplace: The digital workplace is a business strategy to boost employee engagement and agility through a more consumerized work environment. The digital workplace promotes collaborative work styles; supports decentralized, mobile work environments; and embraces employees’ personal choice of technologies.
4) Open Any Data: Open any data in government results from “open by default” or “open by preference” governance policies and information management practices. These make license-free data available in machine-readable formats to anyone who has the right to access it without any requirement for identification or registration.
5) Risk-Based Security: The cybersecurity threat environment is constantly evolving, but it represents only one dimension of a complex, multifaceted set of threats and risks. Government CIOs must adopt a threat-aware, risk-based security approach that allows governments to make knowledgeable and informed decisions about risks in a holistic fashion, allowing for a wiser allocation of resources; more sound decisions about risks and their impacts on government missions, operations, assets and people; and engagement of senior leadership in risk-based decisions.