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Team 7 Week 11 Progress Report

Questions For This Week

What should our combined interface include?

What is the range of opinions on what the division of labor between CDD and R&D should be?

What would a test run of the program look like outside USASOC?

Who among our existing contacts can help us with another kind of test run?

What We Are Testing

  • Our input template can cover USASOC’s range of input types.
  • Our combined interface is navigable and easy to understand without much prompting.
  • Organizations outside of USASOC would want to test this program.

Key Insights

Regarding division of labor, Dave from Squadron H offered us our most valuable insight. He noted that end users real pain point is having to keep pushing a problem in the unit when they have things in the field to worry about. As such, they’re going to reach out to whoever they think will be most responsive. For any particular division of responsibilities to work, it will need to include a timeline that involves communication with the end user at certain key points in the process. R&D section leader Josh suggested that CDD should at minimum always be in the room and ideally always in charge of talking to vendors. The big problem with other people doing it is they don’t have the training to make sure they aren’t accidentally committing the unit to a purchase that they’re not actually committed to making.

Regarding our interface, our most valuable insight was to minimize the size of the blank spaces that go with our prompts. If we deliberately ask for concise answers to questions, we can simultaneously cut down on fluff and be less intimidating to the folks who aren’t big on typing.

Regarding outside opportunities, our most valuable insight came from Chris at BMNT. He suggested that the kind of problem we are working on comes through H4D and BMNT’s doors all the time and that he could even think of a project they’re working on where it may be viable to test our program. This is particularly significant given the range of DoD and federal entities that BMNT works with; if our program turns out to be a viable solution for the kinds of problems they are talking about then it would be a significant validation of the value we bring.

We are continuing the discussion with our problem sponsor about what deployment might look like but there have not been any significant updates to that process since last week.

Interviews (10/112)

Nic – Squadron R&D Deployment

  • Would prefer pre-RWS submissions be submitted via an emailed link.
  • Sees it as no different from submitting a visitor request, which people already do all the time.
  • Difference is a pre-RWS submission wouldn’t be mandatory so people would need to be motivated to do it.

Mike – CAG in support of JSOC [Almost Ready MVP Feedback]

  • Regarding filling out forms, likes the idea of light templates with prompts but thinks they should all be optional.
  • Emphasis should be on concise responses, maybe even phrasing each template as a question could help with that.
  • Ideally there will be a handful of pre-built templates to manage all the different forms, but also the ability to create a new template.

MAJ Josh – R&D Section Leader

  • Believes CDD should be involved in potential procurements as soon as possible.
  • Ideally, nobody talks to a vendor except CDD or at least CDD has reps in the room during the discussion.
  • CDD personnel receive special procurement training to avoid talking themselves into an unauthorized commitment by the government. Your average Joe in the unit has a higher chance of getting themselves into trouble.
  • CDD also has more of a birds eye view of what the organization needs – they are receiving requirements from everyone so they can help synchronize efforts and reduce duplication better than on our side.

MSG Joe – CDD – C4I

  • Sees relationship between R&D and CDD as continuing to evolve.
  • Believes he has a solid understanding of how things should work in his areas.
  • Not certain about the “ideal” division of responsibilities.

Dr. Jared – Course Advisor – BMNT

  • Deploying software without it being maintained isn’t really a viable solution unless you can get people to volunteer to look after it.
  • One of the best reasons to start a company is to make sure that people actually use this thing and not let it languish.
  • The only other option is giving the customer full ownership.

MSG Dave – H/A Squadrons

  • The big problem regarding division of labor is that people get into their own little bubbles and have the people they contact who they think will get the job done, myself included.
  • There isn’t exactly a consistent designation of roles, so when we do find a unique solution to our problem elsewhere in the unit it’s an extremely lucky break.
  • A big pain for end users is that they don’t have the time to constantly push a capability gap – they want to send it to whoever will get the job done and get back to other things.
  • People tend to get caught up in their own projects, which can divert the timelines on important capabilities.

Chris – BMNT

  • Excited to hear about our project – many of the problems that come through BMNT’s door have to do with knowledge management.
  • There may be an opportunity to test the program with a real problem they are working on.
  • Similar situation profile: relying on email is causing problems. People don’t know who to send things to, there are limited number of mailing lists, and people are afraid to talk about niche things because of the spam factor.

Brian – Signal Squadron

  • Doesn’t necessarily think he should be involved in every meeting, nor does he necessarily have the time.
  • That said, he would like to know about stakeholder/face to face meetings as early as possible so he can adjust his schedule if he is interested enough.
  • People have no problem injecting themselves into the situation when they find it relevant, but they need the time to find out and adjust accordingly.

Mike – CAG in support of JSOC [updated MVP]

  • Emphasized limiting the amount of blank space on the forms.
  • Feels this will be a psychological advantage for folks who are averse to writing.
  • It would be nice to be able to search the answers in the prompts in addition to the tags.
  • Thinks the focus needs to be twofold at this stage: bringing down the “cost of participation” for trip goers (i.e. time taken to fill things out), and making sure the input is useful for analysis and available somewhere in HQ.

Archie – NSTXL

  • Current job is to build up his capability to network different H4D teams together so we can share best practices.
  • He is meeting with a team called “Lumineye” soon that could be of interest to us.
  • H4D’s most prominent success story is a company called Capella Space. However, it should be noted that they were already a startup before the course and primarily used it to further their existing goals.
  • Wants to connect us to post-H4D capabilities as they get built.

Hypotheses Confirmed/Debunked

  • Confirmed: Our input template can cover USASOC’s range of input types. Our current set up appears to be sufficient to gather relevant information on a variety of activities and could even ask for more concise answers, assuming that we can provide a few different versions of the template for the most standard inputs. This may create its own interface challenge as we need to make sure a range of input templates would not become overwhelming. However, it appears we are on the right track in terms of looks and how much info we are asking for.
  • Partially Confirmed: Our combined interface is navigable and easy to understand without much prompting. Thus far, everyone we have talked to about the latest MVP seems to understand the functions. However, they are also people we’ve been talking to about this project all semester, so it remains unclear whether someone who is unfamiliar with the program would be able to jump on and figure things out right away. We will need to find a few people who are totally unfamiliar with what we are doing to really confirm this hypothesis.
  • Confirmed: Organizations outside of USASOC would want to test this program. Chris from BMNT suggested that they work on knowledge management problems all the time and he could think of a current project where our solution might be applicable. No test plans with other organizations have actually been confirmed, but this is the strongest indication yet that we will have other opportunities to deploy the program. We are still in contact with Tony from AFWERX, but it seems the kinds of tests he had in mind involved us linking up with BMNT or another knowledge management firm so it is unclear whether AFWERX itself would want to help us test.

Questions for Next Week

What is USASOC’s perceived deployment timeline for this program?

Is our interface understandable to someone who hasn’t spent months in contact with us?

What would deploying on BMNT’s project look like? When would they expect it to happen?

What steps do we need to take to make sure we are prepared to manage relationships outside USASOC?

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