Part of the problem, according to the General Services Administration’s Bill Zielinski, is that many agencies still try to scope out modernization projects with highly specific technical requirements. “We define not only the business outcome that we’re trying to achieve,” Zielinski said at the FCW-hosted IT modernization event, “but we have that tendency to say, ‘and this is explicitly how you’re going to do that.'”
Such specific solicitations tend to produce near-identical proposals from industry, he noted, which forces agencies to select based on “lowest price technically acceptable” criteria. Worse, he said, that prescriptive approach denies agencies the opportunity to benefit from new and creative solutions that might surface if they simply described the business capability that’s needed.
“One of the problems that we’ve got — it’s not the problem but it’s a problem — you develop a piece of technology, we don’t have the resourcing flexibility to buy it.”
That means the Army is forced to buy a technology available today it thinks it will need in 2025, when what it truly needs hasn’t been developed yet.
“[Say] you came up with something new that I really need on the battlefield based on a threat, I have no ability to integrate that into my platform. So whether it’s buy, try, decide or adapt and buy, this allows us to test technology, put it in a demonstrative, experimental environment .… Maybe I want to give it to this unit that’s going to this particular place and get feedback, and then I iterate the whole Army.”
But IT business buyers are, he says, and don’t know how make speeds and feeds (the basis of their buying behavior, plus price) account for UX:
The business buyer, famously, does not care about the user experience. They are not the user, and so items that change how a product feels or that eliminate small annoyances simply don’t make it into their rational decision making process.