How Summit and Guidehouse Helped Federal Student Aid Create a Better Customer Experience, Part 3 of 3

December 13, 2023 Kate Machado

Complexity Simplified: The Summit Podcast logo

Missed the first two parts of our podcast series with Guidehouse? Listen to part one and part two to catch up. In this episode of Complexity Simplified, Summit Consulting director Samuel Dugger and Guidehouse partner Jay Hurt complete their discussion of the work both firms have done to help Federal Student Aid (FSA) modernize its systems and craft a better customer experience.

Specifically, they take a look at the application of data analytics to FSA’s NextGen and SABER programs. The Summit and Guidehouse team run sophisticated analytics on both programs, such as schedule analytics to identify errors before they become schedule problems and requirements tool analytics to calculate Agile Scrum story throughput and ensure the appropriate pace of implementing requirements.

Regarding the schedule analytics, Hurt says, “Our team runs tests on the quality of the schedule file and determines if it meets industry thresholds. […] This ensures a dynamic scheduling file that enables management to decide between possible decisions and predict the consequences of those decisions.” The team follows guidance in the GAO Schedule Assessment guide and the DCMA 14-point schedule assessment. 

The Summit and Guidehouse team also examined the FAFSA Processing System, which ran on a very tight schedule. The team worked with FSA staff to define key performance indicators, or KPIs, to monitor vendor performance, including end-of-sprint metrics, to be part of a weekly status report. Using these tools enabled the team to do a robust analysis of progress on multiple levels, where it discovered that a vendor was behind schedule. The team also found that the development road map created by the vendor was vastly underestimating the amount of effort actually required to deliver the features. When combined, the final analysis revealed a large amount of schedule risk.

Dugger notes, “This detailed analysis helped us send an early signal to FSA that the project was so far behind schedule that on-time delivery was unlikely, even after the development completion date overall was postponed. FSA leadership agreed to our recommendation to begin a contingency planning process, which cut scope for the initial release, reprioritized outstanding tasks, and engaged the U.S. Digital Service. These combined interventions helped get the project onto a more realistic development and deployment schedule and enabled the project to succeed based on the altered scope.”

To learn more about the analytics Summit and Guidehouse performed for FSA, listen to the podcast below. And let us know what you think!

This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education under contract number 91003119A0008. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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