U.S. Army Group to Discuss Software Acquisition at SATURN Conference

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U.S. Army Group to Discuss Software Acquisition at SATURN Conference

March 25, 2010—The SEI’s Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM) is a leading method of software architecture evaluation, and many groups and organizations have used it to improve their software-reliant systems. A study of the impact of ATAM evaluations on the Army was reported in the SEI’s technical note “Impact of Army Architecture Evaluations,” written by Rod Nord, John Bergey, Stephen Blanchette, and Mark Klein. 

However, the Army isn’t the only organization benefiting from the ATAM. Brian Gallagher, Director of Engineering for the Intelligence Systems Division of Northrop Grumman, said that basing processes on the ATAM helps his team achieve its goals faster and better. “The greatest benefit of using an ATAM-based process is [that] you get tangible results and implementable improvements, and impact to the program with minimal investment,” said Gallagher.

Although Northrop Grumman has always been an enthusiastic adopter of CMMI principles—it is the only company in the world that has conducted CMMI for Development, CMMI for Acquisition, and CMMI for Services appraisals—its focus has shifted from seeking solely process improvement to a broader view that includes implementation of architecture-centric engineering practices and principles. Gallagher said, “Architecture-centric engineering allows us to train our engineers and program managers in proven techniques that ensure we have well-defined technical baselines and help us quickly evaluate the effectiveness of early design decisions, and the effect of these decisions on solving our customers’ most challenging problems.”

Gallagher’s belief in the value of architectural principles and practices has motivated him and others from Northrop Grumman to attend SATURN 2010, in hopes of consulting government sources specifically about their use of architecture-centric engineering. And with the Army Strategic Software Improvement Program (ASSIP)’s bi-monthly ASSIP Action Group (AAG) meeting co-located at SATURN 2010, Gallagher and other conference attendees will have a chance to do just that.

ASSIP was created in 2003 and is dedicated to bringing significant improvement to the acquisition of software-reliant systems. The AAG was chartered to help plan, coordinate, manage, and execute software acquisition improvement activities, and the meeting at SATURN 2010 will be a meeting of all program executive office (PEO) chief software architects (or their representatives) and representatives of the Army's Software Engineering Centers.

SATURN 2010’s theme of “Architecting for Change” makes it an ideal forum to host such a meeting. The Army has used the types of software architecture techniques and methods that the SEI advocates to reduce risks, improve efficiency, and share knowledge among skilled practitioners of these methods, and the ATAM has proven particularly effective in revealing software risks early in project life cycles.

Ceci Albert, chief engineer for Army programs at the SEI, said, “The AAG has chosen SATURN 2010 as an educational venue where they can learn from and interact with software architecture practitioners from around the world—and still have time to conduct some Army-specific business.”

SATURN 2010 will take place May 17 to 21 in Minneapolis, Minn., and registration is open now at the SATURN 2010 website. Attendees who register by April 16 qualify for an early-bird discount.

More information about the following topics is available from the SEI website.


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