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BREAKING NEWS as of 9/8/15: We received word that our team just won the bid for DRRS-Army.  Stay tuned on Innova Pulse for a full article on this huge victory!Welcome to September and the unofficial beginning of fall.  The kids are back in school and here at Innova, we are ramping up our own learning.  Over the next two months, employees will have opportunities to attend training to build competence and mastery in several areas including technical skills, productivity, leadership, process improvement, customer service, and communication.Here are a list of upcoming training courses and learning events that we’ll be attending and offering this fall (click the links for more info): The details including dates, course content, and how to sign up will all be published on Innova Pulse in the coming weeks so stay tuned. In October, we will be holding an In-Progress Review (IPR) to present our latest innovations in readiness and technology.  We will hold an internal IPR first in late October to determine which solutions to emphasize and present to our customers later in the year. There have been many great things happening at InnovaSystems over the past month.  Here are a few highlights that you may have missed on Innova Pulse: I look forward to seeing most of you at our upcoming company events (see the company calendar in Outlook for more info):
  • MSC awards and potluck – 9/15
  • Innova Padres Tailgate Party – 9/24
  • 6th Annual Chili Cookoff – 10/1
  • Company all-hands VTC – 10/6
  • Town Hall Meetings (East) – 10/14-15
  • Town Hall Meetings (West) – 10/20-22
  • 19th Annual Halloween Bash – 10/31
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We witnessed a historic event this week in Norfolk (July 2011): the last remaining TRMS server at FFC was taken offline. This shutdown had been planned for several years now and was expected to happen long ago with the Full Operational Capability (FOC) of DRRS-N but many thought and hoped that it would never go away. The highly successful app survived almost 20 years and its early success was responsible for the formation of InnovaSystems International, LLC in 1997.
TRMS stands for the Type Commander’s Readiness Management System and was designed to assist each Type Commander (or TYCOM) for Surface, Submarine and Aviation communities on each coast manage data for their primary mission: improving fleet readiness. Prior to TRMS, we developed an app at Lockheed Martin called PCTHAIS (pronounced PC-Thighs) to replace an 80’s mainframe system to track ship casualty reports (CASREPs) using PCs.  Jon Jensen was responsible for bringing the system into Lockheed – I’ve asked him to respond to this blog with the details from his perspective. Due to the fact that high-level Navy officials wouldn’t take the “Thighs” name seriously, they changed the name to TRMS in 1992.  Our Lockheed team was chartered to helping a government development team at Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS-LANT) learn the Ada language in DOS and transfer a Database Environment technology developed by the Idaho National Engineering Lab called AdaSAGE.
As a member of the AdaSAGE tech transfer team, I wrote code for a new TRMS module in 1992 called TRAREP which automated the reporting of ship training completions from the surface training manual. The ship version of the app was the very first TRMS Afloat program which helped the ships track training requirements, periodicities, schedules, completions, etc. We developed the app using a process called rapid-prototyping where our team would travel from our office in Idaho down to San Diego each month, spend a few days on each of the delegated beta-test ships who helped design the user interface and workflow, then work with the Ashore command who needed to collect data from all ships to manage training readiness for the Pacific fleet. We delivered a beta-version each month until the app was ready for full implementation on all ships which was about a 12-month process. The app was very successful, primarily due to the ownership and involvement from the ships and ashore users combined with the rapid response of the development team of bringing changes back every month. This drove demand for a series of other TRMS afloat apps to automate other processes including CASREPs, SORTS, etc.
In the mid-90’s, we stumbled on an idea that really got high level attention and funding.  Early TRMS was primarily a low-level report tracking tool at the TYCOM used by E3-E5 staff to help their officers build briefs for each department to eventually get briefed to the TYCOM commander. On a whim, we developed an ashore dashboard with drill-down capability that consolidated each of the department’s readiness indicators that essentially automated many of the manual staff functions for the daily, weekly and monthly briefs up the chain. By using color-coded SORTS C-Ratings per unit with the ability to drill down into PESTO and schedule data by resource and primary mission area, the TRMS Readiness Viewer was born. Steve Brower was the main programmer on this with me while we worked with the sponsor, a Navy Commander in DC named Fred Thompson (who now works for OSD on DRRS). Suddenly, our monthly TRMS visits at the TYCOMs changed from working with chiefs and petty officers to training three-star Admirals and their ACOSs of O6s.
In 1996, we obtained a waiver to dump the Ada language and convert the main TRMS Ashore readiness viewer app to Microsoft Access 2.0. Although Ada and AdaSAGE were successful in their time, Windows 3.1, Visual Basic, and the huge library of COTS tools made it clear to us that Ada’s days were numbered. Our Lockheed department had no interest in doing anything other than technology transfer of AdaSAGE (we were not an applications development shop) so we headed out on our own to San Diego to make TRMS more cost effective and innovative using modern technology. With Access, we were able to provide users a self-service BI capability and soon, hundreds of useful reports and graphs were created by users at all six TYCOMs. 
We started InnovaSystems in the fall of 1997 shortly after Microsoft released their first web development environment, Visual Interdev, which later became Visual Studio. Early success was based on process and technology innovations by Steve Brower, Chad Christians, Tom Geoffrey, David Roberts, Jim Kilty, Tyler Rothermund, Rudy Mabolo, and Jon Jensen who all started within our first six months. We developed the ship apps in Visual Basic using the same rapid prototyping approach with beta-test ships and converted our ashore apps from Access to Visual Interdev and SQL. The first TRMS web app (release 5.4) officially came out in 1998. Similar to our recent case study of achieving CMMI using TFS, Microsoft used the TRMS app to promote their software (primarily SQL Server) throughout the Navy and DoD.  Prior to TRMS, Microsoft had very little market share within DoD, but they used us to give large-audience keynote presentations around the country at Microsoft DoD events. The success of TRMS and Innova attracted attention and additional funding from others within DoD including SPAWAR, Naval Air Forces, Marines, OSD, and DHS. 
Key to this success was also our User Experience (UX) process methodology. The ship and ashore users were a critical part of the process as subject matter experts and testers while everyone on the development team learned their business. We spent several days at the beginning of each iteration training the most recent version in a training lab at the TYCOM, then on the ship. While one trainer demonstrated the app on the projector and assigned scenario-based functions to the students, another stood over their shoulders to see how the users worked with the software. We learned valuable information about work-flow and usability in addition to what the software really needed to accomplish. The users took proud ownership of the product and were very happy to see their ideas incorporated into each monthly iteration. We held internal CCBs for the most part with very little oversight from the sponsors.  We were able to determine the right balance of simplicity to support the high turn-over of ship personnel with enough useful functions to make their readiness reporting lives easier such as providing the ship users tracking databases to replace spreadsheets. All of the readiness inputs from departments on the ships such as maintenance, supply, training, and personnel were streamlined into TRMS in the Ops Office. The ship maintained accurate, up-to-date information about their own ship so it made good sense to develop or use their systems afloat to create their readiness reports instead of using inaccurate, time-late data from ashore. We never really understood the strategy to develop FOMs ashore to send back to the ships, other than to save costs on afloat development. It’s an area that DRRS-N still wrestles with today, along with the complexity factor that might have been avoided if a dedicated beta-test user community and more TYCOM involvement was used. We don’t attribute this issue to anyone on the development team, the sponsor was simply focused on a new approach to manage requirements at FFC. We are planning to bring this UX emphasis back to the project this year, to support the N00R essential outcome to reduce complexity to the end user.
Early in 2000, under the project leadership of Tom Geoffrey, TRMS R6S2 replaced all legacy R5.4 programs and a big celebration was held in Norfolk where Sue Tysor cut the cake labeled TRMS R54 is dead! From 1997-2005, all Innova employees worked on-site at the TYCOMs (or some military base) and many of us became part of the TYCOM readiness operations. In the mornings, we tracked the TRMS reports from the ships and monitored the flow of the automated briefings to the Admiral. We even trained many of the TYCOM Admirals to use TRMS at their desktop so they could get a daily readiness overview, drill into data such as personnel rotation dates as well as running metrics to support their budgets. Shortly after 9/11, DoD began its emphasis on Mission Essential Task reporting to replace SORTS which started the DRRS-N project and forced TRMS into an LCM cycle.  It’s interesting that it took 10 years from when Navy said it was going to turn off TRMS to actually turn it off. I said in my brief at the June 11 IPR that if we had known some of our TRMS apps would still be fielded nearly 20 years later, we might have done a few things differently.  But in the end, TRMS was successful in helping thousands of users throughout the fleet improve readiness for DoD.  TRMS is decommissioned, but its legacy will live with us forever! 
Here’s a shot of most of the original TRMS team who were our company directors in 2006 at a meeting with Dr. Stephen R. Covey:
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From Left to Right: Jim Halpin (Director of IT), Evan Arapostathis (Director of HR), Charles Stone (Director of BD), Lynn Hutton (CFO), Steve Brower (Director of Dev), Dr. Covey, Jim Kilty (Director of Test and SPI), Chris Wollerman (CEO), Tom Geoffrey (Director of PM), Marc Moore (Director of Customer Service), Chad Christians (Chief Architect) and Randy Riley (Director of Operations).
Thanks,
Chris
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As part of our company’s 2015 #2 WIG to better understand our customers, we organized and held two aircraft carrier tours for employees this period. 75 Innova employees participated in the tour of the USS Ronald Reagan in San Diego and 42 employees toured the USS Harry S. Truman in Norfolk. Both tours were a big success and we look forward to holding more in the future. Special thanks go out to Pete Hunt in San Diego and Joe Clarkson in Norfolk along with their supporting staffs to organize these great events. In between tours during our town hall meetings, we learned about the Innova apps that are used on the carriers and heard some amazing sea stories from some of our aircraft carrier experts including Carrier Air Boss – Pete Hunt; Pilot – Chuck Henry; Pilot – Brian Brethen; and Carrier Commanding Officer – Joe Clarkson. As mentioned in my article “The App That Started Innova”, a key part of our success has been our close relationship and understanding of our users at the deck-plate level. Although we didn’t get a chance to bring these tours down to the secure areas of the ship where our users use our software, it was a great introduction for many employees to the people we serve. We have several employees who visit our users on a regular basis but I think it’s important for every employee to continually strive for a better appreciation of our users and customers. If you work on a project and have a security clearance, work with your PL and your team’s customer support personnel to take you on a support call – there’s nothing quite like it. sd-aircraft San Diego tour group 1 (of 3) on the USS Ronald Reagan nf-aircraft Norfolk tour of the USS Harry S. Truman with our FFC BUL and previous CO of the ship, Joe Clarkson in the center of the group. Here’s the follow-up letter I provided to the CO of the USS Reagan, Captain Bolt: Dear Captain Bolt, On Behalf of the entire InnovaSystems Team I would like to relay my sincerest thanks and appreciation for allowing us to take the tour of the USS Ronald Reagan on June 2, 2015.  MC3 Warne was very accommodating through the planning process and your Public Affairs Team was wonderful as they guided us around the ship.  Our team of over 75 employees who could make it onto the ship that day work in direct support of Carrier/ AirWing readiness and readiness reporting.  Among the programs we’ve developed and currently support are CV SHARP(CVNs), SHARP (Navy Air), M-SHARP (USMC Air), ACTS (ACTC System), DRRS-N (HHQ Navy readiness reporting), DRRS-S (OSD), and several others.  The tour provided great value to not only our team, but also the Navy/ Marine Corp team as we now have a much better appreciation as to how our software products assist in producing more efficient combat readiness at the deck-plate level. I would like to ensure we give credit to your fantastic tour guide team of: MC3 Kates, MC3 Shumaker, MC3 Mullen, MC3 Hastings They were professional, knowledgeable, well spoken, and entertaining as we moved about the ship and learned about the different departments and mission areas. The USS Ronald Reagan looked great and it is in good hands.  Thank you for the wonderful day onboard your great ship! Very Respectfully, Chris Wollerman
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We are excited to announce that our Million Step Challenge (MSC) Leaderboard is now available for employees, friends and family to view and pledge donations towards two amazing causes: Operation Rebound and STEP. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of several employees, our new site automatically synchronizes data from the three types of fitness trackers that our participants are using including the Apple Watch, Fitbit (all types) and Microsoft Band. As you can see from the scoreboard, many have already exceeded the 1,000,000 step mark with over a month to go in the challenge. The site allows anyone with a Facebook, Google or Microsoft account the ability to pledge donations for any MSC participant. Please help your team members reach their goal of raising at least $100 to help our wounded warriors and veterans in need which will be matched by the company 100%. To make a pledge, you need to first login to our MSC Site with a Facebook, Google or Microsoft account. From there, you can either click or tap on the ‘Pledge’ button next to a participant’s photo on the main leaderboard or select the new Pledge menu item, select the name of the participant, enter the amount and if you wish to remain anonymous to the participant. We will allow employees the option to auto-deduct any donations they’ve pledged from payroll after the challenge has been completed. Feel free to share this link with any friends and family members to help raise more donations. I’d like to thank our volunteer developers, Chad Christians, Noah DiCenso, Adam Sullivan, Mike Weber, Chris Story and Tyler Rothermund who sacrificed their time to make this site possible and to our two intern developers, Korey Hinton and Tommy Jensen who developed the iOS phone and Apple Watch app. These tools are awesome! Most of you know that I’ve been geeking out to fitness devices for many years now. Lynn used to laugh at me as I roamed around the house each night trying to get my daily 10,000 steps in with the original ‘Body Bugg’ back in 2008, then to various Fitbit and Motorola devices. Funny how it took a stylish Apple Watch to make her a believer and in true competitive form, has been trying to beat me every day in her step totals. Here’s a shot just after Lynn made passed 1 million steps a few days ago as we wandered around sampling Tequila in Sayulita, Mexico (about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta).   Later that day, she negotiated a matching silver bracelet with a Mayan calendar from a beach vendor. CEO-BLOG watch watch2  
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The Company Solutions Team is proud to present InnovaNet 4.0, an all-new version of InnovaNet with a modern responsive design and leading edge technology. We’ve collaborated closely with the Inspire! team to craft InnovaNet 4.0 as a single page application (SPA) using the same technologies and methodologies as Inspire! to create a greatly enhanced user experience with modern code on the backend. Since it was not practical to re-write all of the legacy system right away, we’ve chosen to include the most used modules in this current version, including the home page, directory, employee profiles, schedule report, schedule change requests (SCRs), and timesheets. The biggest change can be seen on the home page, which now integrates aspects of the Comm Hub with the classic InnovaNet home page to create a single launching point for your interactions with company information and administrative tasks. This includes the launch of an all-new dedicated InnovaPulse site for company news. innovanet4One of the biggest updates that comes with InnovaNet 4.0 is the ability to use it on your mobile device. The site is responsive and has been optimized for interaction using a phone or tablet, so now if you need to enter an SCR or submit your timesheet on the go, it should be much easier than it was with the older system. We expect that this will make a significant difference for many employees, especially those who are frequently on travel. Another nice new feature is the ability to import your timesheet accomplishments from Inspire! or TFS. As we move forward, we will continue to look for ways to add value and make InnovaNet easier to use. We have automatically upgraded all employees to InnovaNet 4.0 as part of our release. While we really hope that everyone will enjoy using this new and improved version of InnovaNet, we’re still leaving the legacy system in place for a little while so you will have a choice of interface. If you decide that you prefer to go back to the classic version, you can revert back by clicking the link at the bottom of the InnovaNet 4.0 home page. To opt back into 4.0, just click the link on the banner on the classic home page. You can toggle back and forth as much as you like. Please note that within 60 days, we plan on transitioning all employees to InnovaNet 4.0 permanently and removing the ability to go back to the classic version, except for functionality that has not yet been implemented in the new version. We will also soon be retiring the Comm Hub along with the old InnovaPulse newsreader, although SharePoint will continue on to support document libraries and team sites. To get up to speed quickly on the new functionality within InnovaNet 4.0, please take a look at the Quick Start Guide. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us at webmaster@innovasi.com. We greatly value your input and look forward to hearing from you!
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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
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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: https://vimeo.com/135303009 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
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