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Last Updated Dec 09, 2021 —

How SaaS and cloud-based solutions helped the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs achieve digital transformation

How the US government moved from legacy to Scaled Agile and DevOps

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DevOps

Modernizing legacy systems was an ongoing goal for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Digital transformation efforts for the department have centered on the Financial Service Center, an internal organization within the VA that serves both internal and external government customers, such as the Department of Homeland Security. The Financial Service Center, or FSC, is tasked with growing and supporting various areas in the federal government, and functions as one of the largest integrated health care providers globally. 

The FSC’s move to agile and DevOps was a critical development for the department. Historically, there have been challenges associated with government digital transformation efforts. Previously, the VA had made several unsuccessful attempts to replace their aging legacy financial systems. Their approaches, which were centered on traditional project management, ran into some difficulties along the way that halted their progress. 

But since implementing a Scaled Agile and DevOps approach, they’re achieved their digital transformation goals, making historic progress on their efforts. The FSC opted to use Digital.ai’s SaaS solution to modernize their legacy systems and meet their goals. 

Components of the FSC Project

The FSC’s modernization plan consisted of three components that make up their three key ongoing initiatives. These include: 

  • Financial management system
  • Enterprise-wide electronic healthcare systems
  • Modernization of their supply chain initiative 

As the FSC began their multi-faceted project, their first step on their digital transformation journey was initiating an enterprise culture change that would start from the top down. The FSC started its organizational change management with members of the top leadership team. Members of the leadership team and staff were trained in both scaled agile and agile practices. Training for additional staff members followed. 

The next step in the process became selecting the advanced tools and solutions necessary to putting DevOps and scaled agile in place. Digital.ai Agility was included in their toolset for implementing CI/CD pipelines within the project areas. 

The timing of the FSC’s digital transformation project, which began before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, helped facilitate the FSC’s abrupt pivot to remote work in March 2020. The efficiency and flexibility of the DevOps tools that were already in place were amplified when teams at the FSC began to work remotely. The SaaS solution and other tools provided the distributed teams at the FSC with the ability to collaborate and communicate in real-time. The digital transformation tools helped their teams demonstrate resiliency and adaptability in an unprecedented situation.  

Results and outcomes of DevOps, automation 

The FSC has reported strong and measurable results from their digital transformation efforts and moved to scaled agile and DevOps, noting that automation has resulted in growth in the areas of delivery, volumes, and features.  

Some of the outcomes and comparisons include the following:  

  • In 2019, less than 1% of the FSC’s 2500 releases deployments were automated
  • In comparison, in 2021 over 40% of the FSC’s 3000 deployments are now automated
  • Better outcomes: More consistency, predictability, more features delivery for their customers
  • Increases in delivery speed and velocity
  • Greater ability to communicate with other partners in other agencies 

Incorporating DevSecOps in their initiative has helped the FSC to remove friction while they continue to optimize. The improved outcomes associated with DevSecOps align with what the FSC identifies their core values as quality, predictability, and customer service. 

Meanwhile, the FSC and the VA are expecting automation and DevSecOps to continue as the new trend of remote work is expected to continue at many federal government agencies. As leadership teams need to make sure their staff is thriving, they need to find ways to make remote work sustainable on a permanent basis. Having advanced tools and technologies including automation is one key to the process of navigating a remote work reality. 

How SaaS tools and solutions helped the FSC meet their goals

The digital transformation success at FSC paves a way for additional agencies to modernize their legacy systems. At the FSC, the goals for replacing their legacy systems were outlined as follows:

  • Delivering values to the customer as quickly as possible
  • Buy before build
  • Eliminate technical debt
  • Incorporate a cloud-first, SaaS solution, such as Digital.ai Agility, that aligned with their primary goals

A key to successful digital transformation in government and the public sector is choosing solutions that help agencies scale agile practices across the agency or enterprise. Solutions that connect leading Agile and DevOps solutions help to provide necessary end-to-end visibility. 

Look to the future – how Digital.ai solutions can help transform other federal agencies 

Digital.ai is the first company to achieve FedRAMP “In Process” for its enterprise agile planning solution, Digital.ai Agility, making Digital.ai Agility the preferred solution for secure cloud-based agile development. As governments approach digital transformation, Digital.ai provides the ability to connect agile projects with other initiatives such as DevOps. An end-to-end view provides agencies with the necessary context across their software development initiatives. 

Additional Digital.ai solutions can play a role in enabling federal agencies to modernize, transform, automate, and deliver value: 

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