The job of an IT Project Manager is a difficult one and traditional approaches to governance tended to make it even more difficult. In the best of times, these approaches employ Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) as an impediment to project teams; in the worst of times, they set IV&V up as judge, jury, and executioner for projects.


But just because that’s the way things are often done doesn’t make it right. Oversight entities can be healthy enablers instead of adversarial obstacles.

Traditionally, the role of a governance framework is to enumerate statutory requirements, promote best practices, and reduce risk. The purpose of an IV&V team within this world is to ensure that appropriate elements of the framework are followed so as to mitigate risk. Larger projects typically present greater risks and require more controls; smaller projects less so.

The big challenge has always been in defining what is required for a given project.

Project sponsors want working solutions. The CFO wants tight budgets and lower costs. Project teams want happy sponsors. These stakeholders often oppose IV&V because the cost/benefit case for everything it promotes can be difficult to justify in comparison to business needs. Also, when these stakeholders do not pay directly for development costs they can have a very high tolerance for risk – but that’s an issue for another day.

What if we re-frame IV&V from risk mitigation to added value?

  • What if, instead of requiring reams of documentation, IV&V identifies information it needs in the tools and processes already in use?
  • What if, instead of forcing teams to follow so-called best practices in cookie-cutter fashion, IV&V provided the metrics and data they need to take specific action when it is most effective?
  • What if, instead of reciting regulations to teams, IV&V worked hand-in-hand help teams meet them in the most efficient ways possible?
  • What if, instead of looking for defects, IV&V asked teams how it could help and then provided the specific support they need, where and when they need it most?
  • What if IV&V helped to onboard new teams and train them in specific skills and resources they will need to succeed?
  • What if IV&V assessed team needs as they worked together and then developed training courses to address those needs?
  • What if IV&V built project dashboards to present useful information from development tools that helped teams surface problems quickly?
  • What if these and other steps help project teams deliver value while meeting regulations, reducing risk, trimming costs, and increasing quality all around?

What if? There is no what if. This works. It really does.

These are just some of the innovative governance strategies that our IV&V team at USCIS has employed and it has made all the difference.

Let us tell you more about them…

 
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Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

Our presentation will present the inherent challenge with traditional IT governance approaches,

We will then walk through each problematic IV&V approach

  • instead of requiring reams of documentation, IV&V identifies the information it needs in the tools and processes already in use. We'll show what kinds of metrics we gather automatically from existing pipeline output.
  • instead of forcing teams to follow so-called best practices in cookie-cutter fashion, IV&V provided the metrics and data they need to take specific action when it is most effective. We'll explain data thresholds that initiate high engagement from the oversight team due to increased risk.
  • instead of reciting regulations to teams, IV&V worked hand-in-hand help teams meet them in the most efficient ways possible. We'll walk through approaches we use to help teams with increased risk to develop new approaches to decrease their risk profile.
  • instead of looking for defects, IV&V asked teams how it could help and then provided the specific support they need. We'll give some some real life examples of challenged software delivery teams that got targeted help from IV&V to become successful, predictable, and well functioning.
  • helped to onboard new teams and train them in specific skills and resources they will need to succeed. We'll give examples of highly successful teams that needed help getting started, orientation to tools, and guidance of USCIS's expectations.
  • assessed team needs as they worked together and then developed training courses to address those needs. We'll talk about the robust training program USCIS has built to support both basic and advanced agility skills. And how some teams need customized, targeted classes to level-set and gain traction for successful delivery.
  • built project dashboards to present useful information from development tools that helped teams surface problems quickly. We'll show some dashboards and how they give an overview of system/project health.

Then we'll wrap up with a vision of how other organizations could reimagine the services that an Independent Verification and Validation department or group could provide.

Learning Outcome

After attending the presentation, attendees should:

Understand that inherent problem with traditional IV&V approaches

Understand the useful and important role that IV&V provides toward audit-readiness

Be familiar with the 8 different approaches that USCIS is using to shift the role of IV&V away from being an adversarial obstacle and instead toward being a helpful tiger-team to provide aid to struggling projects.

Be able to identify which of those approaches would work within their own organization.

Target Audience

Those working in regulated environments that still have a need for oversight

Prerequisites for Attendees

None

schedule Submitted 3 weeks ago

Public Feedback

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  • Donald Patti
    By Donald Patti  ~  2 weeks ago
    reply Reply

    This is a very valuable topic for those working in the government arena, where IV&V is often required. Plus, I've spoken with Ken and his knowledge on the topic is on point.

    I hope it makes the cut!

    • Ken Moser
      By Ken Moser  ~  2 weeks ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! 

       

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