About Debra Fryar

Debra is a retired government employee, having received the Defense Logistics Agency Distinguished Career Award in 2008. As a former Department of Defense employee, she specializes in data and project management and has extensive experience in program management and eCommerce system development and deployment. Today she does Business Development and Marketing for Partnet, Inc.
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    Part 2: Software Development Life Cycle — Incorporating New and Emerging Requirements

Part 2: Software Development Life Cycle — Incorporating New and Emerging Requirements

Partnet’s development team understands that requirements are volatile by nature and are inevitably subject to change during the course of development. New and emerging requirements often occur as the result of unforeseen constraints, capability gaps, user implications, or newly-identified stakeholders. Our Agile methodologies provide the flexibility required to quickly and responsibly react to such changes without putting other priorities at risk.

New and emerging requirements should be presented to the Partnet development team by the customer in the form of a new or updated functional specification. Our Requirement Managers follow industry best practices to thoroughly assess all new requirements. Careful business analysis is performed to:

Determine any impacts to the existing system.
Identify the best implementation approach.
Mitigate risk to the customer and end users.

Upon identification of a new requirement, Partnet will work with the customer to define business objectives and desired outcomes. Requirement Managers will carefully assess the new requirement against the deployed defined or existing solution to:

Identify capability gaps.
Assess impact to current functionality.
Identify affected stakeholders.
Identify transition requirements.
Document risks and constraints.

Partnet Requirement Managers will present this assessment in the System Requirements Review (SRR). The SRR will document the stated, unapproved requirements along with a recommended implementation approach. Also, the Partnet Project Manager will identify the estimated cost and time necessary to implement the new requirement. Once the additional cost and time are approved by the customer, Partnet will follow its standard requirement procedures elicit, refine, and formalize the solution requirements. Requirement Managers thoroughly maintain requirements traceability to ensure that substantive changes are documented and versioned as new requirements are incorporated into the designed solution.

Partnet expects the customer to be a key stakeholder in the gathering and approval of all requirements—including new and emerging requirements. Consequently, the customer […]

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    Part 1: The Importance of a Defined Software Development Life Cycle

Part 1: The Importance of a Defined Software Development Life Cycle

I’ve been thinking lately about how important it is for a company to have a well-defined process for the Software Development Life Cycle, or SDLC as we like to call it. I’m going to do a series a blogs to share our SLDC process.

Partnet’s SDLC employs industry-best practices in accordance with Agile principles and methods. Our approach ensures that the right product is delivered in the required time frame, while providing visibility into the solution’s development. As part of our Agile Development approach, we employ both Scrum and Kanban methodologies.

Partnet’s SLDC is a multistage process. The first step in the SDLC is to make sure that each development projects start with stable, well-defined requirements. Our Requirement Managers use industry-best requirement management practices as defined by the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK).

The requirements manager coordinates and schedules requirements gathering activities with each stakeholder group. These activities may take the form of interviews, video teleconferences, requirement workshops, questionnaires, or other forms of outreach. In some cases, multiple rounds of requirements gathering activities may be required as the results are documented and consolidated.

This step ends with the preparation of a formal requirements package. The requirements package describes desired outcome(s), assumptions, and constraints associated to a given business requirement. A requirements package may be presented in any number of formats, including but not limited to:

Functional specifications
Screen mockups and page wire frames
Flowcharts, sequence diagrams, data flow diagrams and other visual models
Data dictionary
Use cases and scenarios
User Roles
Goal or desired outcome
Benefit to the customers and stakeholders

The Partnet team completes the Requirements Step by meeting with the customer and other stakeholders to conduct a formal System Requirements Review. This involves distribution of the requirements package(s) for stakeholder approval. Signatures are collected […]

Are Government Agencies Drowning in Data?

Recently Federal Computer Week featured an article entitled: Why agencies are drowning in data. The article was based on a recent survey by Semantic Corporation on effective big data strategies. The survey found that that the main reasons for agencies feeling overwhelmed were data governance and data security. I think, however, they were asking the wrong questions.

The government is currently producing and making available huge amounts of data. I agree that this data needs to be kept secure and managed so it can be made available to the appropriate users. However, I think the bigger question is who is taking the time to look at the data and what are they doing with the information. Take acquisition data, for instance. There are volumes of data about what the government is purchasing, who in the government is making the purchases and what they are buying. Government analysts could be asking questions like:

Are we getting the best price possible on specific commodities?
Does one agency negotiate better prices than other agencies?
Why don’t we all get those good prices?
Which contract vehicles are most cost effective?
Is lowest price always the best answer?
Do we get more returns on commercial items that were purchased due to lower prices?

The list could go on and on. The problem is that no one is really looking at the data — truly analyzing it. Analysis of this type is very common in the private sector as businesses try to understand where they fit in a marketplace and how to make their supply chain run more efficiently. Government employees do not look at themselves as running a business.  They are always looking for cheaper prices and more efficient business practices, but often do not have the […]

Better Buying Power 3.0 – More Emphasis on Best Value

Best value is often described as the tradeoff between cost and performance that provides the greatest overall benefit. However, the word tradeoff to some may imply that one must either sacrifice cost to increase performance or sacrifice performance to reduce cost. Partnet prefers to define best value as the optimal blend of quality and performance delivered at the lowest possible cost and in the least amount of time.

It appears that Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics agrees with us on our best value definition. In a white paper published on September 19, 2014, Mr. Kendall says that Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0 continues with a shift in emphasis toward achieving dominant capabilities through innovation and technical excellence.

Although overall cost continues to be a concern for the DOD, BBP 3.0 puts a strong emphasis on innovation. A series of new initiatives are listed below under the topic of Incentivize Innovation in Industry and Government:

Increase the use of prototyping and experimentation.
Emphasize technology insertion and refresh in program planning.
Use Modular Open Systems Architecture to stimulate innovation.
Increase the return on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).
Provide draft technical requirements to industry and involve industry in funded concept definition to support requirements definition.
Provide clear “best value” definitions so that industry can propose and DOD can choose wisely.
Increase small business participation, including more effective use of market research.

As a small business we appreciate the acknowledgement that we an important part of the DOD Acquisition Cycle. As stated in the white paper, “Small businesses remain one of DOD’s most productive sources of innovation — in services as well as in products.”

4 Steps to Prevent eCommerce Choice Overload

Are too many choices making eCommerce difficult for consumers? Recently I listened to a TED Talk by Dr. Sheena Iyengar, Professor at Columbia University and author of “The Art of Choosing.” eCommerce managers who often pride themselves in how much content they provide their customers should take her observations into consideration.

National Patient Identifier on the Horizon?

National Patient Identifiers have been sparking a lot of discussion in the blogosphere in the last few months. Last month a Forbes article posited that a “128-Byte Data Field“ identifying an individual could save lives and millions of dollars.

By |March 26th, 2014|General|0 Comments|

B2B VS B2G: How eCommerce Can Save the Government Money

We’ve reached into the Partnet archive to bring you today’s post. Originally posted in March 2013, B2B VS B2G: How eCommerce Can Save the Government Money, is brought to us by blogger Debra Fryar.

Business to Business (B2B) markets have positively influenced the business community for a number of years now. Their impact on the economy is evident in several ways:

Transaction costs. Three cost areas are significantly reduced through the conduct of B2B eCommerce.

First is the reduction of search costs, as buyers need not go through multiple intermediaries to search for information about suppliers, products and prices as in a traditional supply chain. Internet is more efficient at gathering information, in terms of effort, time, and money spent. In B2B markets, buyers and sellers are gathered together into a single online trading community, reducing search costs even further.
Second is the reduction in the costs of processing transactions (e.g. invoices, purchase orders and payment schemes), as B2B allows for the automation of transaction processes and therefore, the quick implementation of the same compared to other channels (such as the telephone and fax).
Third, online processing improves inventory management and logistics.

Removing Intermediaries. Through B2B e-markets, suppliers are able to interact and transact directly with buyers, thereby eliminating intermediaries and distributors.

Transparency in pricing. Among the more evident benefits of e-markets is the increase in price transparency.

The gathering of a large number of buyers and sellers in a single e-market reveals market price information and transaction processing to participants.
Increased price transparency has the effect of pulling down price differentials in the market.
Buyers are provided much more time to compare prices and make better buying decisions.
B2B e-markets also allow multiple buyers and sellers to participate in two-way or reverse auctions. In such environments, […]

By |March 6th, 2014|General|0 Comments|

Communicating with the Government Round-Up

Last month my colleague Gabrielle Zimmerman wrote a two-part blog series on Communicating with the Government. I put it out for discussion on LinkedIn asking for people’s experience with communicating with government and learned a lot.

GamePay Wins Big with College Referees

Fall is in the air and most of America will be enjoying football over the holiday, but did you ever stop to think about how college referees get paid? Probably not.

By |November 27th, 2013|General|0 Comments|

B2G Communication Mismatch

Business-to-Government has experienced a few bumps in the road over the past year: the GSA conference scandal, the Sequester restriction on training and travel budgets, the government program office’s reluctance to speak with industry, and now the government shut down. Indeed so much has happened in government over the last year to increase the challenge of B2G communications that I’d be hard-pressed to list it all. The folks over at Market Connections Inc and Boscobel Marketing Communications have published a white paper which sheds some light on the communication dilemma we are facing today and discusses the apparent mismatch of how industry and the government plan to communicate with each other under the current budget constraints. Let’s discuss some of the more interesting points they’ve presented.

The Difficulties of Talking to Your Government Customer

Seventy-two percent of agencies plan to attend fewer conferences and 57% say they will be hosting fewer conferences. Contractors are in step with these results with 50% stating they will attend fewer conferences. Government participants stated they would be turning more to webinars, reading publications in their field, and reviewing websites to gain knowledge. Contractors plan to have more personal discussions with government personnel in addition to updating their websites and producing white papers and case studies. The biggest discrepancy was in the area of face-to-face visits. Of contractors, 68% said they would try to do more face-to-face visits, while only 19% of government said they planned to do the same. This might explain why it is so hard to get an appointment to meet with government personnel.

A silver lining does appear in the findings however, especially for small businesses. Increased use of social media and website reviews by government personnel will make […]

By |October 28th, 2013|General|0 Comments|
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