Army stands up its first software factory

Army Futures Command announced it has launched its first software factory at its headquarters in Austin, Texas. The entity is expected to hit initial operating capacity in early 2021.

low code development
 

It’s official: the Army is standing up its first software factory.

"The capability to develop software at the lowest tactical levels will help us provide better software products," said Gen. John Murray, head of Army Futures Command.

The factory will work in tandem with the Army's digital talent initiative based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where “trained engineers will build the data environment the Army needs,” Murray said in a statement, and “technicians will maintain that environment."

Unlike the Air Force’s model, the Army wants talent development and management to be integral to the software factory.

“This is very much about talent utilization, talent retention,” Maj. Vito Errico, the Army Futures Command’s special assistant to the commanding general and software factory lead told reporters July 14. “We’re emphasizing the people aspect of these software factories just as much as the technology aspect.”

“We’re making a fairly concerted attempt to ensure that we bring people on, whether that be government or [defense agency] civilian or whether that be service member," he said. "People who have existing technical skill sets and then putting them to work at the software factory for a period of time that allows [them] to develop institutional expertise without having to rapidly change out some of those folks due to career timelines or other operational needs.”

The Army hinted in May that it would adapt the Air Force’s software factory model, which now has several teams working on everything from mobile security to combat capabilities.

Errico said the Army wants to emulate the Air Force model’s high interaction and constant feedback loop but focus more on talent development.

The Army aims to have a 200-person software factory, staffed with cloud engineers, Linux programming, object based programming (e.g. Javascript) over several years -- the goal is to bring on 30 people every six months. Civilian employees would be expected to stay for at least three years.

Civilian and military personnel will be mobilized later this year and are expected to start in January 2021.

The factory has identified general problem sets it's interested in -- logistics, installation management and some warfighter mission areas -- but Errico said they’re trying to keep boundaries loose for now and starting small.

Moreover, the software factory plans to evaluate against readiness, user adoption, and cost savings and use them as metrics for success.

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