Devis Supports Humanitarian Assistance with Agile IT Modernization

Jun 26 2018

USAID’s FFP must account for the worldwide allocation of more than $2 billion in awards to partners around the world to provide urgently needed food commodities, local procurement and cash and vouchers to meet the needs of populations dealing with food insecurity and the threat of starvation around the globe. To accomplish this goal systematically and transparently, FFP relied on Devis, a small business firm specializing in collaborative Agile software development practices, to modernize the Food for Peace Management Information System (FFPMIS).

To drive modernization, Devis utilizes Agile software development principles, which emphasize and value customer collaboration, responses to change, and working solutions over processes, tools and strict adherence to old plans. These principles directly led Devis to continually collaborate with FFP’s experts in short cycles (sprints) to prioritize, develop and deliver functions and services that are most valuable to the Office, even when priorities and funding levels change – a true best practice that delivers the greatest value to the government in the shortest time.

Smaller humanitarian assistance budgets and small businesses, as a rule, have to do more with less; when it comes to Agile transformations, this requirement becomes a considerable strength. To ensure that the most important requirements were addressed first, a small core team of skilled, cross-trained professionals from Devis and FFP groomed and fleshed out a prioritized backlog of open issues or concerns.

Then Devis, the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vendor and FFP worked in short cycles, or sprints, to rapidly address priority issues; considering security, both of users and of beneficiaries, in addressing every issue. Having a core team of cross-trained professionals helps keep everyone on the same page as the organization evolves toward the desired goal and avoids the miscommunications that can arise when responsibility for a transformation is spread across several operational siloes.

For example, Devis’ partnership with the COTS vendor gives us the ability to see changes coming to the COTS package, analyze them for their impact on FFPMIS, work directly with any affected areas of FFPMIS to implement the change, and if necessary, create custom code and business processes to adapt FFPMIS as a result of new requirements or alterations in the COTS base.
In the end, Devis accomplished successful modernization through system integration, requirement development, data migration, reports development, and the development, testing, deployment and support of modifications to the FFPMIS case management system for USAID’s FFP Office.

Development InfoStructure, Inc. (Devis), a woman-owned small business, partners with U.S. foreign assistance agencies by utilizing principles borrowed from agile software development to modernize the information technology and processes supporting humanitarian assistance. Key practices are continually grooming a backlog of open issues or concerns to ensure the highest value items are always queued up to be addressed; working in short cycles, or sprints, to rapidly address these priority issues; and always considering security, both of users and of beneficiaries, in addressing every issue. Using a customer- centered approach and applying these principles, Devis modernized the information management system used by USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) to provide the operating unit and its partners with greater transparency for the procurement and delivery of emergency food aid.