Keys to a successful pilot

Whether it's for information security or document management, implementing a successful pilot project involves many of the same key factors, and a central one is a focus on the user.

That's what a panel of experts had to say at the 21st Century Commerce International Expo in Phoenix last week.

John Coughlin, director of information assurance programs at Lockheed Martin Information Support Services, said "use cases" are crucial to a successful pilot, but they are often overlooked. Use cases identify the sequence of actions in a potential pilot from technical and business process standpoints and help assess the value of the system being piloted.

In a use-case scenario, the end user is the impetus behind why an agency would develop a system and the judge of whether the system has value.

Other keys to success are product integration, a focus on the most important issues and simple cost estimates, Coughlin said. Many intelligence agencies as well as the departments of Justice and Defense are current Lockheed Martin customers.

A user-centric approach and committed government leadership deserve the credit for the success of a document-management pilot under way at the Army's Program Executive Office, Aviation, said Rich McAdams, vice president and chief technology officer of Belzon Inc., the prime contractor on the project.

McAdams delivered a presentation prepared by Natalie van Dam, chief information officer at the office, which is responsible for procuring all of the Army's aviation systems.

The PEO pilot involves about 750 employees using Microsoft Corp.'s SharePoint Portal Server to automate previously paper-based processes. Users are pleased with the new system so far, but they have already compiled a wish list of future features and the office is still a couple of months away from a wider rollout, McAdams said.

In addition to strong leaders and a user-centric approach, not going live until an extranet was in place and completing all security, routing and approval processes well ahead of time also contributed to the success of the Army pilot, McAdams said.

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