Christopher Harris

Paper: Earned Capabilities Management (ECM) Meets FIRE: A Framework for Rapid Acquisition

Abstract:¬† Earned Capabilities Management (ECM) is an alternative approach to managing the acquisition lifecycle that uses Agile concepts to emphasize fast delivery of working capabilities with high return on investment (ROI). It offers a framework for the whole acquisition lifecycle that puts the focus of projects back where it should be – impacting the mission and strategy of the organization. ECM builds on best practices from traditional program management that use cost-based methods (e.g. earned value management or “EVM”), and retools the processes to be value-driven and emphasize speed of delivery.

ECM is needed as the Federal Government and large businesses are entering a new era of rapidly changing requirements. The old models of acquisition of using Waterfall/Stage-Gate processes are slow and often deliver products too late or no longer a fit for the organization. Famous examples include the XM2001 (2001), Future Combat System (2009), and most recently the F-35.

In his book “FIRE: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation” the author Dan Ward shows examples across eras of how agile acquisitions can enable higher portfolio success. With examples from WWII and recently from NASA, we can see how rapid acquisitions can build the first fighter jet in 142 days or land on a moving asteroid two billion miles away at two-thirds the cost to collect dust trail samples.

When ECM meets FIRE, the result is a new framework for Rapid Acquisition that could enable large organizations to confidently speed up capability development and achieve immediate mission success.

PMI Talent Triangle Skill: Strategic and Business Management

Biography: Christopher Harris studied International Business and Finance at the University of Tampa and obtained a Masters of Accountancy w/ an IT Focus from the University of South Florida. He applied his learning in the heavily-regulated banking and insurance industries, which, equipped him to understand the interaction of business processes and law and blend them in a way that yields productivity in daily operations. Later he moved to Northern Virginia and entered Government contracting, where he applied the same passion for results where he blended customer requirements, law and regulation, and business savvy to achieve uncommon results. He held an unlimited warrant from the Department of Defense, supported Pentagon officials with strategic sourcing advice and cost savings strategies, and spearheaded the implementation of his recommendations. As a Bytecubed consultant, he works with Government acquisition officials to develop innovative acquisition strategies against the backdrop of current law, policy, and agency processes.