DAHLGLREN, Va. –
In today’s day and age, software moves at lightning speed and is delivered just as quickly. The need to evolve that technology faster, build smarter and increase adaptability is the driving force for many within the Navy’s workforce, especially in the software development arena. One new advancement that is attracting notice in the software community is the naval software factory called Storehouse, in development at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD).
As the in-house expert for all things Storehouse, Candaice Deloach – the senior scientific technical manager (SSTM) for Warfare Systems Software Science and Technology and Development at NSWCDD – explained that a software factory (SWF) is defined as the application of lean manufacturing knowledge applied to the development and deployment of high quality software products.
As a highly accomplished expert in software architecture, Deloach approached the new SWF initiative by introducing a unique strategic plan, focusing on what she calls the “five pillar approach.”
This approach brings together several key elements: software training, software development policy, software quality and agile metrics, data governance and software reuse, called Backyard, and Sky Solutions. The Sky Solutions platform is a scalable Development, Security and Operations (DevSecOps) platform supporting software development internal and external to NSWCDD.
“It’s how we approached building something of this magnitude for the Navy, with a heavy focus on data driven decisions, development of capabilities and a foundational take on software execution,” Deloach said. “The approach has to be holistic with a clear understanding that it is the interconnection across the pillars that sets us upon a strong foundation to build on.”
Within the software training pillar, Deloach and team are building two roadmaps, which explore how the Navy trains developers and how the Navy trains developers to onboard into Storehouse on Sky Solutions specifically. The roadmap provides clear and concise expectations while using data to measure effectiveness and proficiency.
From the prototyping through development, Storehouse has been built from the ground up with a data-driven mindset. Answering questions such as, ‘How are our approaches enabling speed to fleet’, ‘What problems do we need to find repeatable solutions for’, ‘How do we automate the solutions’, ‘Do our solutions close the gap on the haves and have nots in software execution’, and ‘What makes the most sense in terms of experimentation and risk tolerance’, all provide key information in developing the software factory.
Through the team’s innovative development and driving of a new concept called predictive collaboration, Deloach strives to shift what it means for teams to interact and collaborate, where strategic data sets are used to drive collaboration that will provide the highest return-on-investment for the Navy. “Within Storehouse, the focus is on using data to drive interactions and collaboration,” said Deloach.
She explained this concept stating, “In the absence, I liken it to a person who has a right hand and a left hand, but is unaware that either exist simultaneously, have similar function, or are designed to exist cohesively. Yes, I could work with my right hand independently and same for my left, but imagine the strength and force of energy if they worked collectively.”
According to Deloach, “there is a significant level of streamlining and efficiency that occurs when we have multiple teams engaging in similar efforts and they have access to teams similarly tasked.”
On the horizon, Storehouse is working to architect the establishment and implementation as the Navy’s “Super Team”, as referenced by Deloach, which would align to Storehouse. As Deloach explained it, the “Super Team is defined as an elite civilian force of software developers suited for all aspects of warfare systems software development. The mission of the Super Team is to recruit, train, equip and organize to deliver combat ready Navy software to enable the winning of conflicts and wars while ensuring software security and deterrence through sustained forward software deployments.”
The five pillar approach also includes what Deloach calls the Invisible Pillars (INP). These culture shifting concepts that exist across all five pillars account for communication techniques, resource mobility and adaptive engineering. Incorporating the INPs into the five pillar approach provides the Storehouse team with the communications infrastructure to navigate internal and external expectations.
As a leading organization in hands-on software development for Navy Sea Systems Command and the Department of the Navy, the NSWCDD workforce provides a substantial contribution in everything from developing, designing, coding, testing, delivery and maintenance of capabilities in support of the fleet. In line with a larger Department of Defense (DoD) effort, the Storehouse team has ramped up efforts for meeting software modernization requirements and facilitating a shift in culture to policies, processes, workforce and technology.
From SWF conception to prototype development, multiple teams have already successfully onboarded within the short span of 10 months.
“We moved fairly quickly to begin building Storehouse, pulling in knowledgeable personnel with diversity of thought, who we empowered to believe that everything was in the realm of possible, because it is,” recalled Deloach. “Our battle to build and pave these roads in support of the fleet first began in the mind, and the culture that drives how we think about solving complex problems. We leverage best practices and procedures that have proven to be successful, coupled with a laser focus of understanding that no problem at our feet is too great to solve when you with innovation and experimentation at the forefront.”
Developing and standing up software factories in a coordinated and integrated manner helps to stay ahead of threats as well as bring strategic warfare systems integration and capabilities to the fleet and warfighter.
Looking ahead to 2023, Deloach and team look forward to transitioning Storehouse from the prototyping stage into scaling operations. “I can’t say enough positive things about the Storehouse team! Their level of energy, imagination and dedication have no bounds so I am excited for what’s still to come,” said Deloach.
“We are restructuring how we develop and deploy ‘today’ versus ‘tomorrow.’ That tomorrow must account for strategic alignment across the Navy,” explained Deloach. “It is imperative that we pursue solutions that are viable across the DoD, striving to produce and deliver the highest quality products to the fleet and warfighter promptly while also ensuring these capabilities function as intended. At the end of the day, that is what our mission is.”