The Challenge: Granting Wider Access to a Federal Application
A federal agency is creating a new facility, bringing a large number of new employees to the location. Many of these new employees will have low-side clearances, a shift for the agency that up to now primarily had high-side clearance employees. As a result, the agency needed low-side enabled applications to be accessible to new employees. This was particularly relevant for a ticketing system that every employee needed to use, but was only available to high-side employees.
The agency needed help because moving something from a high security classification to a lower classification is very difficult, and requires a lot of upfront research to understand the requirements and users. The agency engaged with us as part of an effort to move a suite of applications from high-side to low-side, starting with the ticketing system.
Our Process: Human-Centered Design Agile
With everyone at the client needing to use this application, the team started with extensive HCD work, conducting hours of user interviews to understand how people currently used it, what features they wanted, and what could make it easier to operate.
We then explored the application ourselves and reviewed documents, including an agency style guide, to inform how the new application would look and operate.
Our design efforts around things such as page layouts and user workflows continued to stay one sprint ahead of development throughout the process in order to provide prototypes and get feedback from stakeholders, users, and developers in an open, conversational manner. This allowed us to continually test, iterate, and improve, while also ensuring buy-in and trust across the organization.
The Solution: Migrating an Application to Low-Side Clearance Level
The team rewrote the ticketing application as a cloud-native application on AWS with the deployment environment on Red Hat OpenShift, bringing the added benefits the cloud brings while also moving it from high-side to low-side.
We improved the workflow and the design based on the assessments and research related to the legacy application, while the new design met the specific agency requirements laid out in the style guide. The team also built components that will work across the suite of applications to be migrated from high-side to low-side over time, helping those future efforts as part of this migration.
The Outcomes: Access for All Analysts
With the application moved from high-side to low-side, we enabled over 200 analysts to work within the application, spreading ticket reporting across a much wider base. Existing users also found it much easier to use thanks to the HCDAgile process prioritizing a simpler, more intuitive design. The application is more scalable due to being in the cloud, which is crucial as the number of analysts continues to grow with the agency’s expansion plans.
“The tenets of 1904labs’ software development process closely mirrors our approach in building a project with highly targeted user engagement that meets customer requirements for operations.”
- Technical Product Owner