Government Agency Improves Enterprise Architecture in Order to Support Defense Distribution System
U.S. Transportation Command, contracted WWT to help create an improved enterprise architecture for the Defense Distribution Process. Through agile software development practices, we were able to deliver a front-end portal that would serve as a unifying platform for planning and logistics far sooner than expected.
In 2004, the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) was appointed as the Defense Distribution Process Owner charged with transforming the defense distribution system to strengthen the Department of Defense’s capabilities and to save money. To support this mission, WWT was contracted to help create an improved enterprise architecture capable of supporting and streamlining the tasks ahead.
USTRANSCOM’s original enterprise-focus was on the “as is” architecture: documenting the current state of the organization. We helped USTRANSCOM shift that focus to the “to be” architecture and develop an actionable way forward for the Command.
At the heart of the new effort were three phases of implementation: the Conceptual Architecture, the Prescriptive Architecture and the Transition Architecture.
Three phases of enterprise architecture implementation
- Conceptual Architecture: An architecture that defines the component parts and their relationships. The Conceptual Architecture details the development of the overall architecture.
- Prescriptive Architecture: An architecture that populates the components defined in the conceptual architecture providing actionable detail for the “to be” end state. It adds engineering details for specific objectives and defines standard business processes, information exchanges, and service-oriented applications.
- Transition Architecture: An architecture developed to provide a path to move or implement a capability towards its end state as outlined in the prescriptive architecture, defining the cost and timelines for desired capabilities.
The Conceptual Architecture was delivered (on-schedule) within 90 days from the start of the project and was signed by the Commander of USTRANSCOM. This document outlined the future vision and blueprint for the Enterprise Architecture to be built in subsequent phases, delineating the concepts, ideas, and overarching principles that informed the re-imagined relationships between the component parts of the Enterprise.
USTRANSCOM originally envisioned spending one year building-out the Prescriptive Architecture before beginning the Transition Architecture. However, instead of waiting a full year to completely finish the Prescriptive Architecture, we leveraged our experience with agile software development practices to deliver value as soon as possible.
Iteration enabled faster progression
We iterated cycles of Prescriptive and Transition Architecture simultaneously, building just enough of the Prescriptive Architecture to leverage in creating and delivering Transition Architectures. This allowed USTRANSCOM not only to start making decisions based on Transition Architectures one to two years sooner than originally planned, but also to learn from early delivery efforts and improve the end architecture at a lower cost.
As a part of the Prescriptive Architecture, we proposed a front-end portal that would serve as a unifying platform for the Command’s transportation planners and logistics stakeholders, directly in line with USTRANCOM’s goal of transitioning to a service-oriented environment. The portal was designed to be backed by web services that would provide an avenue for increased cross-compatibility between back-end legacy systems and projects in the future.
The project was approved by the USTRANSCOM Commander, and we began work on the common computing infrastructure and its front-end portal as a part of the Transition Architecture. By using the architecture delivered to date, along with agile software development practices, we were able to deliver and stand-up the common front-end portal within 10 months. This turnaround was unprecedented in the USTRANSCOM and DoD IT spheres where it was typically thought to take three to five years to provide any new software capability.
By re-orienting the enterprise through an architecture driven by agility and manageability, the architectural framework was in place to enable the creation of capabilities such as the front-end application based on capability- and user-needs. Creating this front-end portal gave USTRANSCOM the opportunity to re-capitalize dollars, reduce duplication across the organization, and focus on back-end enhancements without impacting vital end-user functionalities.
The real-world results of the improved Enterprise Architecture at USTRANSCOM are well recognized. In 2011, USTRANSCOM received the Government Organization Defense Enterprise Architecture Award. The front-end portal that it prescribes facilitated the delivery of a related WWT USTRANSCOM Enterprise Architecture project, AT21, which received the Leadership in Government Transformation Using Enterprise Architecture Award in 2013. None of this would have been possible without a solid Enterprise Architecture that enabled agile and efficient development of software capabilities.
WWT continues to participate in the enterprise architecture efforts of USTRANSCOM to provide greater efficiency, innovation and collaboration across the enterprise.