Agile Application in Materiel Acquisition

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

THE ASSESSMENT: The Integrated Battle Command System Engagement Operations Center undergoes assessment in the prototype integration facility in Huntsville, Alabama. (Images courtesy of the IFMC Project Office)



The IFMC Project Office implements Agile methodology throughout the acquisition process.


by Jessica Wilkerson and Nathaniel “Nate” Pierce

Recognizing the need to quickly develop, deliver and evolve DOD’s software-intensive combat capabilities and supporting systems, the Integrated Fires Mission Command (IFMC) Project Office within the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space (PEO MS) was among the first to be included in prototyping an Agile software development process. The Agile process was necessary to handle the rapid changes in software development because of integrating and adapting multiple systems to both existing and emerging air and missile defense technologies into the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS).

Flexibility and collaboration, highlighted in the iterative Agile process, have proven vital to the development of a highly complex system of systems like IBCS. Through Agile methods, capabilities can be quickly developed by implementing warfighter feedback into this collaborative process. Time is reduced from requirements realization to final product testing and deployment, resulting in critical capabilities being delivered more rapidly.

The Agile software development approach ensures development activities continue by synchronizing future capabilities and requirements, while concurrently fielding software. The stakeholder teams and test community embedded in the Agile development team informs and prioritizes Agile planning conducted at the start of each quarterly program increment. After IFMC began employing the Agile framework in its software release process, it was clear that the hardware component must also adapt its processes to maintain alignment.

AGILE MANIFESTO: Individuals can use Agile methodology in their daily work by applying the four values of Agile.

AGILE MANIFESTO: Individuals can use Agile methodology in their daily work by applying the four values of Agile.


The hardware Agile release team was formed to match the cadence of the Agile framework implemented by the IBCS team. The use of Agile prioritization in hardware development has enabled faster adaptation to new capabilities and threats. Hardware has identified five metrics that define prioritization in program planning alongside software development: planned delivery time, engineering complexity, software impact, production blockers and business value. These variables are weighed to define the priority of each hardware change. This iterative process allows for continuous improvement and integration of hardware and software, ensuring consistency across all aspects of production. This model allows the development of IBCS hardware and software to adapt more quickly and respond to the warfighter’s needs by leveraging Agile’s continuous development pipeline.


As IBCS progressed in its Agile development, realigning other acquisition processes within PEO MS quickly followed, shifting from a product-focused program management office to capability-focused. This realignment enabled coordinated component development in an overarching integrated system architecture that aligns materiel solutions with warfighter needs for a more flexible, responsive and adaptable force. The Integrated Fires Test Campaign was born from this realignment. This campaign will demonstrate the delivery of system-of-systems capabilities instead of merely the components and will now grow and develop through Agile improvements on an annual basis.

To effectively incorporate these Agile processes and component deliveries into Army test and evaluation processes, stakeholders needed to be aligned and integrated with the Agile cadence. Test and evaluation system teams, test officers and Army capability managers are now integrated into the continual planning and decision processes for annual integrated fires test campaigns. This begins with identifying developmental priorities based on time, complexity and impact. Configuration development is then used to plan the development of capability for the year. These annual test campaigns will become the standard testing procedure for the future as the Army continues to add and improve upon Army integrated air and missile defense architecture. This represents a dynamic shift in the way we test and qualify equipment provided to the warfighter. This capability constructs better scales and adapts materiel acquisition solutions to keep the pace with rapidly evolving technology and achieve enduring overmatch with near-peer threats.

HARDWARE PRIORITIZATION: Integrated Fires Mission Command’s Hardware project office defined metrics to determine prioritization when addressing changes to equipment.


To deliver a meaningful capability, systems need the ability to effectively communicate on the battlefield, which is achieved through Army and joint interoperability certification. Interoperability certification is the process of confirming that the system can successfully exchange critical information while interfacing on a network. IFMC is part of the working group currently evolving the modernization efforts for Army interoperability certification. The Digital Transformation Technologies Directorate for the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for data, engineering and software is leading the undertaking and including stakeholders in the process. This partnership ensures the modernized interoperability certification aligns with the Army’s transformation.

An Agile approach is needed to adapt testing methodologies and standard operating procedures to accommodate the swift pace of continuous verification and validation of capabilities, compliance and security. The flexibility of using an Agile framework eliminates bottlenecks and optimizes the value stream of delivery to facilitate shorter feedback cycles. This will result in even quicker delivery in a continuously improving cycle.

AGILE IN EVERYTHING: The Integrated Fires Mission Command Project Office implements Agile methodology throughout the acquisition process.


The Army materiel release process is a critical stage in the development of new equipment. The purpose of this process is to ensure that Army equipment is safe, meets operational requirements and is logistically supportable before it is released to warfighters. This process provides Army leadership with the control and visibility necessary to ensure that items intended for issue have been thoroughly evaluated and approved for use. Currently, materiel release is a sequential development process that requires completion of each phase before the next one begins. This approach depends on the deliverables of the previous phase and corresponds to a rigid set of requirements. Regulatory guidelines governing current materiel-release processes do not align with the pace of fielding and delivering capabilities.

In fiscal year 2022, IFMC identified the need to adapt the materiel release process to enable system-of-systems capability releases in line with Agile development. An Agile approach would allow for more frequent adaptation of requirements as new capabilities are fielded, delivered and integrated. The intent is to have a more flexible materiel release that can be incrementally improved as more information about system utilization becomes available post-deployment.

IFMC launched the Agile materiel release working group in coordination with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology to adapt the existing materiel release process to keep up with the rapid software capabilities deliveries needed in the field. The goal is to develop a new system-of-systems Agile materiel release process that will enable annual delivery of capability to critical systems. The challenge is to define a process that will provide the flexibility to enable a solution that is tailorable and scalable for a task force commander, while ensuring materiel provides a safe, suitable and sustainable capability.

IBCS hardware and software are being produced more quickly and efficiently by involving stakeholders in the development process, from planning through testing. Despite the acceleration of development, fielding is subject to operational evaluation reporting timelines and materiel release processes that can only occur in a linear, sequential and lengthy development. The goal is to develop and implement a process to deliver capabilities annually that ensure safe, suitable and supportable systems.


We must be intelligent in not just what we know, but how we adapt to the modern challenges within materiel acquisition. Strategic readiness is critical to our national security. The ability to rapidly deploy capabilities anywhere in the world and sustain them over extended periods of time is a key element of our military’s power. The Army must adapt to meet the challenges we face and must increase its strategic readiness to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. This will require defense organizations to adapt to a significant change in the way we do business. However, the benefits of a more ready and capable Army will be well worth the cost. The Army Modernization Strategy demands that we prioritize materiel development to ensure that warfighters are best equipped to defend our nation.


The United States Army must maintain its relevancy in a constantly changing world. To do this, it must be willing to adapt its methods and procedures. One way the Army is doing this is by implementing Agile methodology. Early prototyping and testing are essential to ensuring that the solutions generated are the right ones. As a component of a persistently modernizing Army, other programmatic approaches will adjust as technology advances and our competitors adapt. By being willing to change and adapt, the Army can maintain its relevancy in a constantly changing world.

As we move forward with Army modernization, we will continue to uncover processes that must be challenged, updated or replaced, whether that is how the acquisition community measures itself through tailored reporting, how to best estimate costs for responsive materiel solutions and Agile development, or how to evaluate performance and provide capability to the warfighter with the flexibility they require. We have the tools and innovation to respond—let’s use them to deliver.



For more information, contact PEO Missiles and Space at (256) 313-3576 or go to

JESSICA WILKERSON is the program operations director for the Integrated Fires Mission Command Project Office in PEO Missiles and Space. She earned an MBA from Texas A&M University and a B.S. in international business from Auburn University. She is a DOD contracting professional and holds the DAWIA Advanced certification in program management and business ‒ financial management. She also holds the DOD International Affairs certificate (Tier 1).

NATHANIEL “NATE” PIERCE is the strategic initiatives coordinator for the Integrated Fires Mission Command Project Office within PEO Missiles and Space. He holds a B.S. in computer science and is pursuing an M.S. in data analytics from Athens State University.


Read the full article in the Spring 2023 issue of Army AL&T magazine. 
Subscribe to Army AL&T – the premier source of Army acquisition news and information.
For question, concerns, or more information, contact us here.