The below email announces the stand up of SHARP AFLOAT 6.0
CDR Leonard, N40,  CNAF
The data base upgrades for SHARP 6.0 Afloat on Stennis were completed on Saturday. Paul Walker performed the upgrades and made sure the network application was functioning  normally. Marshall Grice conducted application testing and training to the Air Wing. Marshall relayed that the squadrons were very happy with the application performance,  and the access provided by being on the shipboard network. Overall it was a big win for us. BZ to Paul and Marshall, they did a great job get this up running in a new environment. Also, we would like to thank our development staff, the SHARP 6.0 Afloat application was a multi-year effort, from design to implementation to testing to install. They are very proud of their work.
v/r SHARP Project Team
InnovaSystems has been in the process of evaluating Team Foundation Server/Visual Studio Online (VSO) options for the past six months. Inspire, Company Solutions, DRRS-N, MSHARP, and CV-SHARP have helped pilot our efforts by analyzing the tools. These pilots have been an invaluable learning aid to establish the most effective migration path into our new Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) system. We are now readying the final rollout of the tools to the remainder of our teams. There are six basic steps to complete the rollout for each team:
  1. BU/Team Kickoff Meeting – discuss the process, verify teams, and review the current “baseline” license allocation plan based on our evaluation experiences. IT will schedule this kickoff meeting with each project before August 14.
  2. Detailed Licensing Plan – revise license seat types based on special needs, review installation process, train process, set final schedule
  3. Create and Verify Projects – VSO projects (Agile and CMMI) created for each verified license plan, connectivity verification, build process/lessons learned review, SharePoint Team Site Established
  4. Client Tests – Final project connection test
  5. Source and Doc Migration – Code migrated to VSO, Documentation and artifacts migrated to new Team Site
  6. Build Process Verification – Confirm successful builds
One significant difference between this effort and our last migration: we will not be supporting legacy work item migrations. When the company moved between TFS 2008 and TFS 2010, the work item mapping and migration process was a two year movement.   As our teams moved forward with the new tooling, their dependency on legacy work items naturally decayed over time. The large upfront investment in work item migrations was never fully realized as the majority of our software services efforts are “forward looking” with emerging needs being represented in the creation of new work items. IT will be maintaining a readily accessible instance of our TFS 2010 server to enable linking to important legacy work items to maintain traceability where necessary. A VSO “town hall” is being scheduled in early August to answer questions and provide some basic demonstrations and lessons learned information. IT will be reaching out to each team to schedule step 1 in our process to kick off each project migration before Aug 14.
Most software industry professionals understand what agile means and what it can potentially do for projects and customers. However, most of us tend to think that agile practices are best left to software services and solutions – there seems to be little applicability to other aspects of life, right? It’s not like these practices could be used to solve community issues, city budget problems, or executing strategic initiatives outside of software and services delivery, right? Many processes used by business and government are often very rigid because the risk is perceived to be quite high. Conventional wisdom suggests that utilizing agile like “games” to solve collaboration issues is just silly when working on $100,000,000 problems. However, this is exactly what the City of San Jose, CA did. When faced with huge budget deficits after the great recession, they needed new ways to look at their problems and come up with more collaborative solutions to solve their issues. By utilizing agile practices, largely facilitated by agile software experts, the city was able to work through some of their most pressing problems with great success. High collaboration/involvement also happens to be major aspects of multiple change leadership frameworks that drive lasting results (Kotter and Blanchard). Our own Agile Steering Group uses agile practices in order to develop our next wave of process improvement and agile process guidance. The outputs of these ideas are not really software solutions (although they are published in electronic form), but rather important ideas on “what” teams should do to be successful. It may seem strange that software delivery techniques can be used for much bigger concepts then software but there are a host of industry problems that are being tacked with the core agile techniques that revolve around high involvement and engagement. Might this be the beginning of the end for classic management as we understand it? Is it possible that these easy to understand (but difficult to master concepts) could be the beginning of a larger shift in collaborating our way to success? Time will tell. However, one thing seems clear; agile methodologies are more than simple little games to help improve customer and employee satisfaction. Collaborative problem solving at scale may very well represent the next frontier in business and government problem solving.
Value TeamOne of the interesting challenges for many agile teams is the myth of the “Super Product Manager (SPM)”…especially in Government work. The ability to artfully balance the line between the needs of the technical teams, interfacing with sponsors, representing filed user needs and clearly/concisely communicating needs across the boundaries is a tall order indeed. One interesting solution that has been presented is the Value Team. In many Government supporting software operations, some “roles” often feel left out of the software development team (aka delivery team). We know that IA, SME, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Pubs, and UEA all play critical functions in the delivery of our services. However, Agile frameworks are often silent on such issues and rarely have a good answer for the problem. The Value Team crowd sources the refinement of a clear program vision and develops the value definition to be delivered to the customer. The Value Team shares this responsibility beyond a single “super” PO by providing the horsepower needed to truly understand and communicate the vision and requirements/user stories to the team. After all, the PO can’t possibly be everywhere at once; can they? What say you? Does the idea of a value team make sense? Can we utilize concepts like this to expand a sense of ownership by improving the vision and requirements clarity?
Teen Week - 1 (4) Last week (7/27-31), 25 kids of our employees and neighbors ranging from 12 to 19 years old participated in our 3rd annual iOS development week.  Many of the kids had never taken a software class prior but left on Friday with a cool game app that they developed during our course.  Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Noah DiCenso, Korey Hinton and Tommy Jensen, the kids stayed engaged and interested all week and left with some great knowledge in iOS development.  Most of the participants attended our summer bash in Alpine with their parents on Saturday night and all raved about the opportunity. We intend to offer Teen Week again next year on both coasts and expect it to continue to grow. We also have strong interest in implementing this program in our school district and expect that it will be hit in all districts where we implement INSPIRE!  Our superintendent, Bruce Cochrane, attended part of the class on Tuesday and was blown away. Earlier this spring, he asked us to provide an estimate to get all 1700 district students trained and implemented in INSPIRE! which we will start on this fall and we expect to pilot our unique iOS dev for teens course soon thereafter. I kicked off the Teen Week with an introduction and told all of the kids that my primary reason for putting this on is to get them all working at Innova in the near future. I’m amazed at the level of skills and productivity at this age – one of my favorite and most creative apps came from a 12-year-old in the class. Check out their interviews and demos in my short video here: We also had great support from our INSPIRE! team to get the kids ready for back to school. Thanks to Jennifer Barajas, Max Masters, Haley Price, Nikita Wollerman and Kyle Peterson for all of their hard work in prep and support throughout the week.  And special thanks to Adam for the design of this conference ‘swag bag’ that we provided each student: Teen Week 2015 - 2
In a DevOps world, the boundaries between development and operations largely fade away into a single, continuously delivering system. Within a system like this, retrospectives become increasingly important to understand what is working and where improvement is needed. Many of us are familiar with “sprint retrospectives” which tend to focus on a given cycle but an operational retrospective has a slightly different scope. Failure in a continuously delivering environment will eventually occur so how we learn from each of these events can convert nearly any down moment into powerful learning and improvement opportunity. A good operational retrospective is key. Tip 1 – Be on the watch for bias in the analysis. Hindsight bias, outcome bias, behavior bias all can skew the view of what really happened. A quick overview of the types of human bias can be quite revealing: Tip 2 – Don’t wait. Rally around the problem right away. With each hour that elapses, our view of what may have happened becomes a bit hazy. Time is of the essence to dive to the root cause of the problem. Creating a clear timeline of events is critical to solve the real problem. Tip 3 – Avoid blame. It’s way too easy to simply blame someone. Finger pointing will not solve the problem and help in the future. Sure, someone may have been a major contributor to an issues but human error is NEVER the end of the research, it is the beginning. What caused the human error is what needs to be discovered to solve the real issue. Tip 4 – Remediation solutions should be considered “experiments”, not final solutions until proven. Probe, sense, and respond to the experiment to test the solution. Set SMART expectations to measure success (in this case “m” is measurable).
On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, the Marine Business Unit worked offsite at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton. The Air Station Commanding Officer, Colonel Chip Killmeier, and the Marine Aircraft Group 39 (MAG 39) Commanding Officer, Colonel Mike Borgschulte, agreed to host and support the visit in order to foster a strong working relationship between the M-SHARP team and the Marines on the flight line whom they support. The work day began in the morning with iteration planning and a town-hall-type discussion on the Employee Satisfaction Survey (ESS). After lunch, the team received a tour from MCAS personnel that covered a demonstration from Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Marines as well as briefs from Flight Clearance, Weather Forecasting, Ground Electronics Maintenance, and Air Traffic Control Radar Section personnel. The tour included a trip into the control tower to see how aircraft are controlled on and around the Air Station. Next the team was provided with a static display of a UH-1Y Huey and an AH-1Z Cobra from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 – “the Stingers”. M-SHARP team members enjoyed hands-on experience with the aircraft and asked the pilots numerous questions. After the static display, the team was escorted into the squadron spaces, where they were able to experience an active Squadron Ready Room and the Operations Department. The team was able to interact with Operations Marines and asked them numerous questions about their use of M-SHARP for flight planning and logging procedures. The day culminated with a mini Marine Users Group (MUG) discussion involving Operations representatives from the MAG, and every squadron within the MAG, together with project leadership. The dialog was very informative and engaging for all involved. Overall, the team had a great flight line experience and came away with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the individual Marines and Aviation Communities whom we support with M-SHARP and M-ADW. It was an outstanding team-building exercise and everyone learned a great deal. We hope to make this an annual event for the M-SHARP team in the future.
Close Race for MSC

Close Race for MSC

It was starting to look like a close race for first place between Stephen Lind and Javier Rosales this past week (Javier was less than 40k steps behind Stephen on Monday) but it looks like Stephen isn’t going to give up the title that easily who has now widened the gap by 51k steps which is about 10 miles.  I bumped into Javier while walking back from lunch yesterday who said that he was planning to do as much work as possible on his laptop while walking the treadmill over the next few days.  But unless he pulls off a minor miracle over the next 40 hours, our probable winner this year will be Stephen Lind who represents the NGB DRRS team in Northern California.  The challenge ends at midnight local time, tomorrow, 8/21/15 and official winners will be announced next Monday.

It’s been an exciting challenge this year with many competitors working hard to step-it-up for two great causes.  In addition to the $100 match, we’re planning to award all participants who raise at least $100 for charity to keep their shiny new Apple Watches, Microsoft Bands and Fitbits plus some great prizes for several categories.  Please help the remaining few employees and fellow team members make it to their $100 mark by pledging today.

Last week on August 11, our National Guard Bureau (NBG) staff from all regions gathered at NGB HQ in Washington DC to meet with the NGB J359 Readiness Division.  We presented our latest NGB Dashboard Proof Of Concept to LTC Daniel C. McCarroll who is the represents the Chief, Global Force Management and Readiness Office.  He was very impressed and is working on bumping up our funding.  We also discussed possibly using the POC live at the next All-Hazards conference in New Orleans next March which could help turn this program into a program of record and long term contract.

On Wednesday evening, Obie Spratling hosted a great dinner and party at his house in Clinton, Maryland where I was able to talk with each of the MSC participants.  Stephen Lind shared his secret for staying in first place throughout the entire challenge:  He consistently walks at least an hour every morning before work, is active throughout the day and then walks another 90 minutes after work.  Pretty amazing discipline!  Good luck Stephen and don’t let up yet…

NGB MSC participants

NGB MSC participants

NGB MSC Participants (left to right): John Sobutka (Boston, MA), Chris Wollerman (San Diego, CA), Duane Johnson (Atlanta, GA), Michael Graves (Peoria, IL), Jose Castro (Austin, TX) and Stephen Lind (Sacramento, CA)

More photos from NGB Party Here

logo-nrre The FFC Business Unit/Navy Readiness Reporting Enterprise recently received its annual Contractor Performance Assessment Report (CPAR) for the DRRS-N contract for the period April 2014 to April 2015.  The results were, in a word, “Exceptional” with the rating in all competitive categories deemed exceptional.  The competitive areas are Quality, Schedule, Cost Control and Management.  In two other non-competitive categories, Utilization of Small Business and Regulatory Compliance, the rating was Satisfactory. The exceptional CPAR is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone in the FFC BU and other support services from the company that support the Business Unit.    There were numerous laudatory comments in the CPAR including this in the Schedule section “InnovaSystems has a mature process for ensuring timely delivery of software that continuously and reliably achieves a 95% on-time delivery rate. The reliability and repeatability of this process has provided significant value by allowing the Government Program Manager to confidently plan based on contractor schedule estimates. This is most notable when evaluated against an industry benchmark of less than 50% on-time delivery.” And this remark was under the Quality section “ISI excelled in the delivery of Enterprise Customer Support and Network Operations during this period. The Network Operations Team achieved an annual average operational availability in excess of 99.5%.” Although the CPAR is for the DRRS-N contract it applies not only to the DRRS-N project but to all the projects in the NRRE;  CNI/SPFII, DRRS-N, GFM NOS, NRRE-BI/NRRIF, NRRM and NTIMS which are all under the umbrella of the DRRS-N contract.  
It’s been a few months since we released our sprints to production but we’ve finally gone live with many new features and capabilities:
  • New Help System – we now have professional tutorial videos, context sensitive help and a new support web site to help new users learn all of the advanced features of the program. This will help us prepare our product launch to commercial customers this fall.  Simply click on the help ‘?’ icon in the upper right corner of any window to explore this extensive new system.
  • New Notification system for performance management module – helpful reminders are now automated to keep everyone on track with plans and deadlines.
  • Print features for performance management module and goals – for those who prefer to hold face-to-face agreements and appraisals without technology getting in the way, the new print features have some great looking reports that are formatted for optimal usage.
  • Mobile Web Optimization and extended features – many enhancements and fixes have been implemented to optimize the user experience on a wide variety of devices including Apple, Android, Windows phones and tablets. Most modal forms have been replaced!
  • Today Task filter and UI updates – manage and find all of your tasks and reminders easily with this handy new set of features.
INSPIRE! new help system

INSPIRE! new help system

Over the past 2 weeks, we have trained many new users outside of Innova using the new 3.3 version including all employees under the Chief Administration (and Financial) Officer (CAO) at the Ken Blanchard Companies and all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in the iDream program at Joan MacQueen Middle School (JMMS) in Alpine, CA. The Blanchard training goal was to launch a new pilot for all employees under the CAO to implement a full performance cycle for this fall’s goals at Ken Blanchard Companies.  The results from this important pilot will solidify our partnership agreement and help us take the next steps in marketing to Blanchard clients. The JMMS training was to provide a crash course for over 120 students to improve their organization and productivity skills by tracking all homework, exams and projects in INSPIRE! instead of the classic binder reminders.  The goal of our superintendent is for all students in the Alpine district to use INSPIRE!  We will be in the classroom at JMMS every Friday teaching INSPIRE!, 7 Habits, technology, and a new music production class using iPads. INSPIRE! is also being implemented in a leadership program at the Classical Leadership Academy in San Marcos starting this week.  The curriculum is a performance goal based learning experience that uses classical leadership concepts from The Blanchard Institute’s, Situational Student Self Leadership® and INSPIRE!® performance intelligence software, that helps students learn through a blend of online lessons (Schoology® Learning Management System) and classroom activities as they apply the leadership and time management concepts to real academic and personal goals. The Classical Leadership Academy experience will lay the foundation for a life of influencing and leading others toward academic and personal excellence. Finally, we are now ready to start the hiring and interviewing process for a commercial and education marketing lead to help us with INSPIRE! commercialization and business development.  We are looking for someone with a marketing background with at least 5 years of experience in the talent management and HR software tools industry.  If you have any referrals, please contact recruiting.