Overall Approach and Corporate Capabilities
Our overall approach provides proven processes based on well-respected frameworks, honed by years of experience, and enhanced with innovative thinking to provide clients with effective and value-added solutions. BPS supports its projects with the resources needed to be successful. This includes a SharePoint collaboration facility, hosted computing infrastructure, staffing/recruiting support, project templates, financial management tools, and mentoring from senior staff. Our company is financially sound and has successfully performed on Federal contracts for more than 18 years. Our focus on, and commitment to, our customers is demonstrated by the direct involvement of company principals and our responsiveness in adjusting to changing program needs. Other key aspects of our approach include the following:
- Expert Staff. Our program analysts and technical assessment specialists are fully qualified for their positions, with experience ranging from 10 to 30 years each, relevant certifications, and technical degrees. Our use of highly qualified staff provides you with senior-level support that can be entrusted with your most important program support and system validation needs, and also enables us to do more with fewer resources.
- Attention to Fundamentals. Many companies are unable to effectively translate the theory of their idealized processes into daily practice. In contrast, we maintain a focus on project management and IV&V fundamentals to ensure that the basics needed for a successful project are maintained and improved over time. We use formal standards (e.g., IEEE and ISO), best practices (e.g., PMBOK and ITIL), and agency/federal guidance (e.g., NIST, OMB, ED OCIO) to ensure fundamentals are not overlooked and to lend authority to our recommendations.
- Applied Technical Expertise. Our staff members have a high level of technical experience and expertise. We leverage that expertise to bring practical innovations that improve IT service delivery.
- Supporting Tools and Templates. Our experience shows that good practices tend to be followed when they are supported with appropriate tools. We provide our projects and staff with tools and templates that encode proven processes and successful experiences to enable us to provide you with more responsive and efficient support.
- Financial Stability. BPS has enjoyed over 18 years of financial stability and long-standing contracts with federal and commercial clients. BPS is strong, with the backing of financially secure business partners and maintains sufficient cash reserves to accommodate cash flow fluctuations.
- Financial Management Tools. Our accounting system fully segregates direct and indirect costs as required by DCAA. Each project also uses an Excel-based tool to track and graph budgeted, actual, and estimated costs. Our earned-value management system (EVMS) is based on Microsoft Project and tracks cost and schedule variance, as well as other required metrics.
- Staffing & Recruiting Support. We ensure that highly qualified staff are assigned to projects in a timely manner through a rigorous staffing and recruiting process. Our use of objective tests early in the recruiting process to assess qualifications, technical skills, and analytical capability are a key differentiator in our ability to identify and obtain top talent.
- SharePoint Collaboration Facility. We provide each project with a SharePoint collaboration space to speed the preparation of document deliverables and to manage schedules, status, action items, issues, risks, and contacts.
- Hosted Computing Infrastructure. We have established accounts, virtual machine images, and management tools for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) that projects can use to implement Windows and Linux servers with greater scalability and without the cost and delay of hardware and software acquisition and installation.
Our management approach provides comprehensive management of the contract, calls/orders, staff, subcontractors, projects, schedules, costs, workloads, team performance, deliverable quality, and risks. Additionally, it embodies and reflects the core values of our team, including responsiveness, technical excellence, innovation, cost effectiveness, and commitment. Some highlights of our management approach include the following:
- Customer-Centric Organizational Structure. Our customer-centric organizational structure effectively integrates our corporate partners into a cohesive team with the specific skills required for each project, along with the corporate support needed to be successful.
- Contract & Task Order Management. Our task order management approach combines the right people, processes, tools, and culture to provide a high degree of responsiveness, insight, and control.
- Proven Project Management Practices. Our project management approach combines industry best-practices of PMBOK and Agile to provide project management that is rigorous, responsive, and results-oriented.
- Balanced Project Staffing. We optimize the balance of senior and junior staff according to the specific needs of each project to ensure cost effectiveness.
- Team Performance Management (Quality of QA). We apply quality practices to our own QA testing services to monitor and improve test completeness, tester productivity, and other key metrics.
- Cohesive Corporate Team. The cohesiveness of our team, combined with a transition plan successfully employed on other large task order contracts, ensures a smooth start on this project.
- Empowered Leads. We appropriately allocate responsibility and authority to highly capable contract and test team leads so they have full control over the resources critical to success and can be responsive to customer needs.
- Corporate Support. We facilitate the use of thoughtful innovations and proven management practices by contract teams to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services without interfering in the operational and technical details of how our staff meet the needs of individual projects.
- Continuous Risk Management. We use a comprehensive, continuous risk management approach that ensures risks are identified and mitigated.
- Surge Staffing Capability. Where appropriate, we utilize part-time staff whose hours can be increased or decreased over the short period of the project to accommodate the skills required for certain tasks.
- Hands-on Task Manager and Empowered Teams. One hallmark of our company is that our staff members are expected to combine business savvy and technical expertise. In addition, our task order managers and teams are empowered to make decisions and adjustments within the task order scope, enabling them to operate more independently.
- Responsive Management Structure. Our management structure effectively allocates responsibility and authority to enable the PM support team to be responsive to your needs and effectively leverage our corporate resources.
- Mentoring. Our company principals provide hands-on mentoring and guidance to staff, providing projects with the benefit of many years of lessons learned and industry best practices.
Approach to PMO Support
Our technical approach to PMO support services is based on federal guidance, the IRS ELC, industry standards and best practices, and our own experience providing federal IT PMO support for more than a decade. Our approach provides the people, processes, and tools needed to implement rigorous and practical PM support. Some key elements of our approach include the following:
- Value-Added Expertise. Our approach begins with providing the right people for the task. For PMO support, that means people with a unique combination of technical knowledge and business savvy, who add real value to the program management function. We apply staff that can integrate both technical and business considerations into each project, and effectively communicate and coordinate with a broad range of stakeholders.
- Agile Methods. Our program management approach applies Agile/Scrum techniques where appropriate, regardless of the software development life cycle employed, to improve predictability, decrease risk, and increase the value of results. Key elements of our approach include cross-functional teams, technical platforms that support collaboration and rapid iteration, daily scrums, sprint reviews, and a common definition of “done” that includes all associated artifacts. We find this approach effective even in Waterfall projects, when applied to creating document deliverables and managing our own tasks, for example.
- Collaborative, Responsive, and Proactive. PMO support is inherently an integrative activity that requires a high degree of interaction with numerous stakeholders across programs. Our staff have the communication skills, customer-service attitude, and specific tools to provide PMO support that is collaborative, responsive, and proactive. For example, we use structured, facilitated sessions to support stakeholder engagement, and rigorous action-item tracking to ensure follow-up by our team.
- Continuous innovation. Recognizing the need to research, evaluate, and apply new practical methods and techniques to support PMO and IV&V activities on Agile efforts, we recently set up a test innovation lab in Microsoft Azure Cloud. The lab is configured with best of breed tools for testing (Selenium, Jenkins, SoapUI, JMeter, LoadRunner), code analysis (Sonar), continuous integration (Jenkins), version control (Git and Subversion), data and security analytics (Grafana, Splunk) and application performance monitoring (AppDynamics). This lab is available to all BPS staff allowing them to learn, innovate, and ultimately provide more value to the federal program that they support.
- Measure and improve. Strong IT program governance requires hard data to support effective decision making. We do that by measuring the essential things that should be measured without losing sight of people, process and tools . In particular, we follow basic guidelines. We focus on trends and less on scalar values; we measure team performance not individuals; we harvest the data collected by tools instead of creating our own; and lastly, we don’t rely on measures alone, but supplement our qualitative assessment with data to inform our opinion.
- Supporting Tools and Templates. Our experience shows that good practices tend to be followed when they are supported with appropriate tools. We provide our projects and staff with tools and templates that encode proven processes and successful experiences to enable us to provide customers with more responsive and efficient support. We utilize a wide variety of tools, methods, and standards to provide PMO support services.
Approach to IV&V and Testing
Our overall technical approach is based on our understanding of your needs, industry best-practices in testing, and our own experience providing federal IT testing support for more than a decade. Our approach delivers the people, processes, and tools needed to implement rigorous and practical testing support. Specific features of our approach include the following:
- IV&V Expertise. Our roots in IV&V reach back thirty years to when a BPS principal performed quality assurance for IBM mainframe products, and extend forward to our recent award of a production verification testing subcontract for the USPTO. Our IV&V expertise is built upon a thorough understanding of SDLC processes, commitment to the value of independent assessments, deep understanding of the technologies involved, and good judgment about value to programs. We have demonstrated expertise in all areas of IV&V, including assessment, analysis, audit, measurement, inspection, benchmarking, and testing.
- Automation Excellence. Our technical approach to testing emphasizes thoughtful automation to improve testing speed, efficiency, and thoroughness for both Waterfall and Agile software delivery. Team BPS’s automation capability has empowered and accelerated our successful drive to “Automate First!” at USPTO and USCIS. Our test automation excellence is evidenced by the people, processes, and tools we currently use.
- Agile Delivery using Agile Methods. Our use of Agile methods for test development and test management enables us to keep pace with development teams, provide early customer insight into testing, and provide better test results. For us, Agile is not just a buzzword: our thoughtful application of Agile is evident in the people, processes, and tools we currently use and have proposed for this work. From a process standpoint, we use Agile both for script development and for test management. Our use of Agile methods for testing has been successfully applied on contracts at USPTO and USPS in supporting contemporary software development methods including Agile/Scrum, DevOps, CI/CD, ATDD, and BDD.
- Proven Test Practices. Our approach is based on formal standards, guided by industry best-practices, and tailored to the specific needs of the IRS to provide QA testing services that combine rigor and practicality for high-value results. For example, we use IEEE Std 829 as the basis of test plans but split common elements from release-specific elements (in master and subsidiary test plans) to streamline testing of enhancement releases. Tools used to apply proven test practices include formal standards and best practices (e.g., IEEE, ISTQB, CMMI), agency guidance and templates, and our own detailed templates and checklists for testing.
- Thoughtful Testing Practices. In our experience, effective practices depend on having the right people and, more specifically, the right mindset and training. While developers have a natural bias to try to make tests work, testers should have a natural bias to make tests fail. Remaining true to the tester’s perspective is essential to ensure testing is a value-added activity that helps discover issues before end-users face them in production, rather than simply a lifecycle bump to be overcome or a rubber stamp in the process. In addition, testers must do more than simply compare actual and expected results: they must apply original thinking to root out anomalies. Consequently, we include assessments of critical thinking and analytical ability in our staffing process and provide training and mentoring to ensure our staff have the capabilities needed to apply test practices effectively.
- Test Automation and Cloud Computing. When IV&V work calls for our direct involvement in testing, our use of automated test tools enables us to perform regression testing much more quickly and efficiently, supporting shorter system build cycles and reducing staff costs. Our use of the Amazon EC2 cloud computing infrastructure enables us to conduct high-volume load tests for less cost: recent experience shows that a savings of roughly 75% can be achieved compared to approaches using a dedicated performance testing facility.