Software Acquisition

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Congress directed DoD to ensure applicability [of the SWP] to defense business systems in Section 835 of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act. This direction was driven by the recognition that commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products for DBS solutions are often software intensive and benefit from iteratively delivering capability using Agile, Lean, and DevSecOps processes.

Reference Source: USD A&S Memo: Use of the Software Acquisition Pathway for Defense Business Systems

Using the SWP, defense business systems can selectively adopt and tailor in Business Capability Acquisition Cycle (BCAC) processes while also providing flexibility for continuous delivery of capability. The use of the SWP does not reduce overall discipline and rigor in planning and execution – it remains critical that programs have properly trained staff to execute rapid software delivery, that they have the right diversified team structure, and that they have leadership support when adopting the pathway.

The SWP uses a flexible and adaptable requirements approach that supports smaller and more frequent releases, promotes regular prioritization of needs and promotes greater flexibility to accommodate adoptionof new enabling technologies and services such as cloud migration and other infrastructure modernizations.

The best DBS candidates to employ the SWP DBS sub-path are those efforts using modern software methodologies, adopting agile management approaches, and deploying software updates at least annually. Additionally, large Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) capabilities that have difficultly fielding small operational segments of capability may find they are not a good fit due to the rapid cadence that will be required of SWP programs during the Execution Phase (although such systems might transition to the SWP once an initial base capability is delivered).

DBS programs using the SWP must still ensure compliance with any statutory requirements. 

Defense Business Systems and Software Pathway


DBS in SWP Planning Considerations

Reference Source: USD A&S Memo: Use of the Software Acquisition Pathway for Defense Business Systems

The SWP Planning Phase for defense business systems is in many ways similar to the first three phases in the BCAC process: Capability Identification, Solution Analysis, and Functional Requirements and Acquisition Planning. The intent of the three BCAC phases is to identify the functional community needs, prioritize those needs to guide capability development / implementation, and develop tailored strategies to acquire and deliver required capabilities.

DBS programs using the SWP instead will accomplish these activities in one phase by employing a collaborative functional and acquisition community approach. During this phase, it is critical DBS programs ensure that Title 10 USC §2222 requirements are incorporated into the natural cadence of work under the SWP, such as conducting business process reengineering at appropriate points and documenting alignment to the enterprise architecture into existing artifacts under the SWP. 10 USC §2222 requirements are met throughout the entire DBS lifecycle, so properly aligning this to key program activities, artifacts, and deliveries in a streamlined and efficient way – which is fundamental to the Planning phase – is critically important.

DBS in SWP Execution Considerations

Reference Source: USD A&S Memo: Use of the Software Acquisition Pathway for Defense Business Systems

Both the BCAC and SWP support the delivery of iterative capabilities. The SWP is intended to support the iterative delivery of capability under the premise that software is never done. This approach is more suitable for defense business systems with multi-year incremental capability implementation schedules that can be broken down into small chunks, and/or evolving commercial product baselines. While using the SWP to support iterative deliveries, business system programs must continue to satisfy 10 USC §2222.

It is recommended that DBS programs conduct a 10 USC §2222 certification just prior to entry into the Execution phase to ensure compliance with statutory requirements specific to DBS, and to align with the SWP’s funds first obligated rule. Subsequent 10 USC §2222 certifications would ideally occur during the program’s value assessment reviews, which must happen no less than annually.

DBS in SWP Strategies

Reference Source: OUSD(A&S) Guidance


Defense business systems could benefit from the single, consolidated Planning phase to meet the intent of the BCAC where development and tailoring of strategies occurs prior to the Acquisition ATP. Strategies can be developed to align business process reengineering (BPR) and prototyping activities to iterative capability releases and reduce risk prior to capability acquisition.

DBS in SWP User Agreements

Reference Source: OUSD(A&S) Guidance

Defense business systems maintain some standard roles given the communities that they serve and the need for strong functional-oriented leadership. These programs can benefit greatly from using the SWP User Agreement to clarify detailed roles of participants and stakeholders specific to business capability development and delivery. For instance, the Functional Sponsor can take the place of the Operational Sponsor

• The functional sponsor is the DoD or Component senior leader with business function responsibility seeking to improve mission performance. The functional sponsor confirms the need for improved business operations and represents the user community interests throughout the BCAC. The functional sponsor represents the DoD organization(s) with a business problem or opportunity that may be addressed via the acquisition of a business system, business process reengineering, or related business changes.

• The functional lead manages business process reengineering and execution of business process changes. They lead definition of functional requirements and training and deployment for the business capability. This role reports to the functional sponsor and collaborates with the program manager.

DBS in SWP Initial Delivery

Reference Source: OUSD(A&S) Guidance

 Defense business systems require iterative delivery of capability. Those with a high level of schedule uncertainty between what would represent a “Limited Deployment” versus “Full Deployment” benefit from adopting the “software is never done” philosophy under the SWP. Capability Implementation Planning could also be better supported through adoption of MVP approaches that enable early learning to support the BCAC Solution Analysis and pre-Acquisition ATP activities.

DBS in SWP DevSecOps Approaches

Reference Source: OUSD(A&S) Guidance

In many respects, the tenets of reuse of Enterprise Services parallel those of leveraging COTS. Defense Business Systems often design and implement a COTS product versus integration of an Enterprise Service so many of the Enterprise Services and DevSecOps approaches align well with the integration and development of a defense business system.