Development of the Combat Identification Server (CDT-S) by General Dynamics

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has a succinct directive of ensuring that its mandate is executed to the letter to guarantee that it thrives. This drive and singleness of purpose has mainly to do with the fact that the lives and well-being of all military personnel rank high in the ministry’s list of priorities. These individuals dedicate their lives to protecting their country, ensuring that any internal or external threat is dealt with promptly to assure the citizenry of their safety. It is therefore fitting that the least the government and its proxy agencies could do is make certain that cutting edge and state-of-the-art technology is utilized in bring this mission to mind. The development of the, now infamous, Combat Identification Server (CDT-S) was one such initiative aimed at raising the tactical situational awareness of coalition troops posted in volatile regions such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Pursuant to this objective, General Dynamics received a £3m tender from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) which chose the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) framework (“CIDS development,” 2015). It is highly likely that this decision was arrived at due to the possible benefits that would accrue from utilizing this agile modus operandi.  Moreover, it is a popular software development technique and has, over the years, proven a vital technique in solving complex tasks. Implementation of a project’s structure aids the framework by ensuring that it functions well within the framework’s principles, is simple and also extendible. By so doing, a solution to the problem would be provided within the shortest time possible improving its production capabilities.

The major business problem that the project team had to contend with in this particular case was the time allotted for the task. Work was expected to commence from February 2009 and was to be completed by June 2010. In reality, 16 months was a short timeline since there were various operational complexities that existed in a project of such magnitude. There are a plethora of interconnected intricacies that have to be put in place in software development if the project is to make any headway. Linking tactical networks, for instance, involves the active involvement of all project members in the development of a working structure for the whole plan (Holcombe, 2013, p. 67). In this case, General Dynamics was tasked with ensuring that the project was delivered within this short duration possible while also ensuring that it fit the quality requirement. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) acknowledged the enormity of this request, but still put General Dynamics to task. Delivering this project in time was therefore vital to both parties due to its fundamental nature. On one hand, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) had to make certain that any officer operating in war zones was protected at all costs, assuring them of their safety during precarious missions. Similarly, General Dynamics also knew that the delivery of this project was grave to its standing as a business conglomerate. The fact that it was the sole company awarded the £3m tender meant that it had to prove its mettle and deliver the product within the specified timeframe. Application of time boxing, application of MoSCoW rules and prototyping were therefore applied in line with Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) framework.

It is vital to note that General Dynamics that the enormity of the task at hand required the company to implement strategies that would assure it of success. Timeboxing, MoSCoW rules and prototyping were therefore the best bet that the company had in achieving this particular milestone. The pre-project planning phase has been known for its usefulness in developing a chart that is fully functional (Moran, 2015, p. 60). At this point, brainstorming is invaluable owing to the vitality of the information that is often provided during this stage. The exchange of ideas aids the project team in coming up with practical options on how the project can be carried out within the shortest time possible while sticking to the quality requirements. Furthermore, the best notions are then used during the feasibility and business studies to provide a rough assessment of the practicality of the selected approaches. I opine that such a strategy is central in increasing the chances that the project would succeed since all facts regarding the project are presented for interrogation. At this point, all those involved have a unique opportunity to provide any dissenting opinions or corrections that need to be made to assure successful completion of the task at hand.  Through these approaches a functional model of iteration is then developed to make certain that all plans would be achieved within the allotted time frame. The design and build of the software are central to its success since any other parameter that would be set in motion would depend on it as an appropriate prop. Implementation would therefore be swift, in addition to any post-project assessment program that would be required.

The project teams at General Dynamics were quick to master the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) framework in an attempt to comprehend its agile methodology that would serve their needs in completing the project in time. The project’s quality was also a matter of great concern for all those involved since any flaws in the system would be detrimental to the lives of thousands of service men and women. Furthermore, General Dynamic’s reputation was also on the line, which is why dealing with any known business problem was a standing priority. Managing the time that was available to them at this particular moment was a major determining factor in producing the end product. An assessment of the product’s complexity played a major role in making sure that a thorough evaluation of each stage was made and in line with all other requirements.  In addition to this, MoSCoW rules made certain that the project’s leaders and all other members were heavily involved during each step made in the development process. Progress can only be made when all members have a deep understanding of the project’s technicalities since they would be essential in determining advances (Stapleton, 2017). Adhering to these rules also makes it mandatory for project leaders to make any changes by being aware of any nascent technical possibilities coupled with any alteration in the user’s environment. This agile approach was bound to bring more business benefits to the project as opposed in comparison to using any other known traditional project management approach. All features required for the end product are promptly classified and are all incorporated into the final product. Chances of technical failure are therefore greatly reduced, benefitting both the establishment and their esteemed clients. Additionally, reassigning occurs in this particular process to ensure that multipart processes that may prove an impediment to the entire project are dealt with at a later date to avoid consuming time meant for simpler initiatives.

It is safe to say that the success of a project has a lot to do with the role played by the agile coach. Any decision that is to be implemented has to pass through the agile coach first for screening. The purpose of this evaluation is to ensure that all its tenets are in tandem with the project’s overall objectives thus increasing chances of success. An agile coach also looks out for any errors in design while ensuring that they are corrected to increase chances of overall accomplishment. As a figurehead, leading by example motivates all those working on such a project to focus all their energies on it with its completion being their ultimate goal. Through this rare brand of loyalty to the “cause”, many of those taking part will take personal responsibility in ensuring that everything takes place according to the plans that had been made. The Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) framework will also be mastered fully and its philosophy accepted by all members before commencing with the work.  An able agile coach is critical in its acceptance since they are the conduit that connects every member with the specifics in the project (Stapleton & DSDM Consortium, 2012). Any decision or change that is to be made will therefore pass through the development team that is directly under the leadership of the agile coach, making the team’s stability a priority.  A commercial relationship is supportive is created by with its ultimate goal being incremental delivery and the development of ground breaking technology. A shrewd agile coach represents commitment of the senior management which will, in the long haul, result in considerable end-user involvement.

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