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BPM Software as a Strategic Weapon for Transforming U.S. Air Force IT Procurement Under NETCENTS-2

Ben Farrell
August 22, 2012

As reported recently in the Washington Business Journal, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has awarded 12 small businesses with the right to bid on application services contracts worth up to nearly $1 billion. Thiswas donethrough the Application Services Small Business Companion contract under USAF's Network-Centric Solutions II (NETCENTS-2) contract. NETCENTS-2 is directly aimed at addressing many of the key issues in existing federal acquisition practices that have been discussed elsewhere on this blog.

Appian's position is that BPM software is crucial for improving government procurement operations. Our partner SI Systems Technologies LLC (one of the 12 small business awardees) agrees, and will use the Appian BPM Suite as a strategic asset in its NETCENTS-2 bids.

In a Defense Systems Magazine articlefrom June of last year, Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello talked about NETCENTS-2 as "a strategic ordering vehicle" that will allow USAF to reach more contractors, including more small businesses, to increase competition while improving how acquisition contracts are managed and executed. "The concept," she said, "is to pre-vet the contractors that will be providing IT solutions or products to the Air Force so we can manage those contractors like a program."

NETCENTS-2 will provide a wide range of IT Network-centric and Telephony products, services and solutions to support vital USAF operations and support the USAF warfighter. NETCENTS-2 hasa stated goal to support the re-engineering and modernization of legacy systems through the rapid, incremental delivery of network-centric solutions. In spirit if not in letter, this has "Appian BPM" written all over it: fast, codelesscomposition of flexible solutions that provide a modern overlay of native mobile accessand social collaboration across a wide range of disparate legacy systems. The Application Services Small Business companion provides a streamlined, enterprise-supported contract vehicle to consolidate many existing contracts that are currently separately managed and tracked.

The benefits of NETCENTS-2 should be dramatic. More competition means better prices for USAF (using, of course, our tax dollars for payment), and increased accountabilityplaced onthe contractors delivering services and solutions. SI Systems Technologies is looking atAppian as a platform to help them be more competitive in rapidly delivering innovative, cost-effectiveand highly-flexible USAF application services.

David J. Doherty, Program Manager at SI Systems Technologies, said, "Advanced business process management software presents a faster, more cost-effective means for developing government IT solutions than traditional software development. The flexibility, zero-coding design and modern mobility and social collaboration capabilities of the Appian platform will be a strategic asset in our NETCENTS-2 contract bids."

NETCENTS-2 has the hallmarks of a more efficient and effective way for federal agencies to manage acquisition of the IT services their employees and constituents require. But having forward-thinking contractors like SI Systems Technologies using BPM software to those ends is really only half the battle. USAF and other federal bodies need to embrace BPM in their own internal operations as well. Remarks from Maj. Gen. Masiello support this:

"I think it bears repeating that under our better buying practices we need to relearn some skills that have perhaps atrophied over the years. And that includes understanding how to implement incentive structures in our contracts, digging into the actual prices that we are paying for weapon systems or services with more knowledge and understanding, and building that type of expertise and experience into the workforce. We have a young workforce. They are less experienced and less skilled, and many of their seniors who are coaching them don't have those incentive experiences either, so this is a whole workforce educational opportunity."

I read this as 1) increasing visibility into what's going on, 2) having the right data to make more informed decisions about how things are progressing and 3) institutionalizingrelated best practices (ie., optimal business processes) and enforcing them across the workforce. To learn more about why these all scream out for BPM, read about the Appian Acquisition Business Management solution.

Ben Farrell

Director of Corporate Communications

Ben Farrell