Modernization and Adopting Change

Our FedRAMP Journey - part 3

Posted by Chris Barlow on Jul 28, 2020 12:19:46 PM

New Steps in the FedRAMP Process & 4 Lessons We've Recently Learned

Discover one CSP’s story in navigating a FedRAMP and Security Level 4 DISA certification

The last update on our FedRAMP story was shortly after we achieved our FedRAMP Ready designation. Since then, we have started moving toward the most difficult stage of all – the review.

Let us share with you how we got here.

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Topics: change management, fedramp

The Weakest Link In Cloud Security Isn't What You Think

Posted by Chris Barlow on Mar 31, 2020 9:38:04 AM

Part of our series on Cloud Privacy & Protection

Following our first article on managing data locally vs. in the Cloud, we will address the biggest concern for many organizations: What is the weakest link in cloud privacy and security? 

While this article summarizes the main ways data security is handled in the Cloud, you can get a very in-depth understanding of the topic from MS Azure and AWS (see end of article for helpful cloud information from the MS Azure, and AWS websites).

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Topics: data management, cloud

Managing Data Locally vs the Cloud

Posted by Chris Barlow on Mar 23, 2020 5:19:39 PM

Managing Data Locally

Part of our series on Cloud Privacy & Protection

Once upon a time (a long time ago), computers were either not connected to the internet at all, or at best connected to other computers within the same building. 

In those days if you wanted to save data, you did so on your own hard drive (25 years ago, a standard PC had 8MB RAM and a 1GB hard drive)! Where applicable, and usually as a necessity due to the limited size of drive storage, you also printed a hard copy of the data and stored that physical copy in a file cabinet somewhere. 

As each year passed, technology steeply advanced and we began to see larger and larger digital storage capacity taking up a smaller and smaller physical footprint. Soon it became possible to save meaningful amounts of data on removable drives. At the same time, local networks were faster, making it possible to store data on local server.  For the first time, data was no longer local to a single machine or hard copies - we could now use a removable drive or local server to backup, share, collaborate, or transport data. For scale, Apple’s iPhone 11 contains more than one million times more memory and a hundred thousand times more processing power than that of the Apollo Guidance Computer on board when Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. 

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Topics: data management, cloud

Our FedRAMP Journey - part 2

Posted by Chris Barlow on Jan 7, 2020 10:41:11 AM

3 Difficulties Faced, 5 Reasons to Hope, and 3 Next Steps

Discover one contractor’s story in navigating a FedRAMP and Security Level 4 DISA certification

As well prepared as our team came into the FedRAMP certification process, we could never have been prepared for the difficulty of navigating the road that is FedRAMP+/DISA certification.  

Before making it appear that we are complaining, allow us to clarify that FedRAMP itself has admitted that the process is still too time-consuming and costly for most small businesses. In fact, the FedRAMP expert we hired to initially guide us through this process told us, “You are crazy to try: you might not be able to sustain it financially as a small business and should consider whether this opportunity is worth the risk. By the time you get through the whole process (esp. with the DoD involved), you might not be a business anymore.” At the same time, FedRAMP is an unusual Government organization in how committed it is to improving this—since 2011, there have been many changes for the better.

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Topics: change management, fedramp

Our FedRAMP Journey - part 1

Posted by Chris Barlow on Jan 2, 2020 3:33:28 PM

5 Takeaways at the Early Stages of FedRAMP

Part of our Series on our FedRAMP journey

One contractor’s story in navigating a FedRAMP and Security Level 4 DISA certification

Why tell our journey of going through FedRAMP?

We’re sharing our story to encourage you regardless of how you’re involved in technology and modernization: 

  • You’re an Agency who needs help from industry partners (both Government and commercial) to understand and achieve FedRAMP cloud readiness 
  • You’re an Agency who is sponsoring a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) as a mission owner 
  • You’re a CSP seeking FedRAMP certification for your product 

This series of articles will hopefully tell an interesting story and shed some light into the process.

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Topics: change management, fedramp

5 Lessons FedRAMP Modeled For Everyone

Posted by Chris Barlow on Dec 17, 2019 3:37:29 PM

How a Government Agency Set an Example of Transformation

Part of our Series on our FedRAMP journey

It's become all too common (and usually justified) for private industry to believe that over time, Government programs grow in scope and budget, and not only fail to achieve their goals, but become a hindrance to their stated purpose.

If you scrutinized FedRAMP just a few years after its creation in 2011, you would have come to this same conclusion. Instead of helping Government agencies achieve IT modernization, factors had come together to make the FedRAMP process a bureaucratic morass that was difficult and costly to navigate toward authorization.

It was surprising then that in 2015, the directors of FedRAMP did something unfortunately rare in our industry: they reflected on their program and with brutal honesty admitted that it was failing. This was the first and most important step the in the process of rebuilding the program from the ground up. 

It’s because of this bold action that FedRAMP is seeing more and more success in helping agencies move to the cloud and helps FedRAMP stands out as a program that is (if slowly) successfully moving closer to the goal it was created to achieve. 

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Topics: change management, fedramp

Anchor Change in Your Organization's Culture

Posted by Chris Barlow on Jul 9, 2019 2:18:47 PM

Stage 8 of the 8-Stage Process of Transformation

Transformation Across the Organization

Part of our Series on Leading & Adopting Change

Finally, we come to the final stage of the 8-stage process of transformation, a proven method created by John Kotter to help organizations effectively change.

In summary, the goals of Stages 1-7 are to create a new vision, recruit a leadership team and generate new behaviors – all of which lead to gradual transformation across the organization. The goal of Stage 8 is to firmly ground these changes in the organization’s culture. Stage 8 ensures that these changes are sustained long into the future. Without it, organizations will automatically regress to old patterns and the changes will be lost!

Regardless of how intelligent and competent an executive team is, if no one teaches them about organizational culture and its powerful influence on behavior, it’s natural for executives to allow a major transformation effort to regress.

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Topics: change management

Consolidating Gains To Produce More Change

Posted by Chris Barlow on Jun 21, 2019 3:01:17 PM

Stage 7 of the 8-Stage Process of Transformation

Transformation Across the Organization

Part of our Series on Leading & Adopting Change

As we shared in the previous article, short-term wins are vital for the success of a long-term transformation effort. After each victory, it’s important to celebrate the hard work your team has done, yet at the same time, to use that energy to start the next project. Beware of big celebrations, which spread the message “We’ve done it! Everyone can relax now,” because as soon as people begin to believe they have arrived, complacency can begin to creep in, and urgency is lost.

Major transformations take a long time, and there are several factors that can slow down or stall this process:

  • Exhaustion
  • Turnover of key leaders
  • Celebrations that communicate “the task is done”

In a very short time, years of work can be undone. Instead, during Stage 7 of transformation, leaders must do 3 things:

  • Relentlessly use small successes to renew urgency (remind everyone of the ultimate goal)
  • Sustain acceleration or even gain momentum (use energy from wins to start new projects)
  • Increase credibility (communicate how these short-term wins validate the overall change effort)
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Topics: change management

Generating Short-term Wins

Posted by Chris Barlow on Jun 11, 2019 2:32:58 PM

Stage 6 of the 8-Stage Process of Transformation

Shor-term wins aren't short-term gimmicks

Part of our Series on Leading & Adopting Change

The primary purpose of the first 6 stages of the transformation process, as developed by John Kotter, is to build up enough momentum to break through the dysfunctional barriers that prevent organizations from change.

When we ignore any of these stages, we put the entire effort at risk. Especially in Government, the process is tenuous and time consuming – it usually takes years to complete. Stage 6 is, in part, a culmination of Stages 1-5, taking all the work together to start making small, measurable changes to the organization.

If you initiate a transformation effort for your Agency, from the beginning you will get a few zealous believers in your vision, who will be willing to stay the course no matter how long it takes. For everyone else, however, the effort will need to provide measurable performance improvements along the way, showing that the effort is moving your organization in the right direction.

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Topics: change management

Empowering a Base of Supporters

Posted by Chris Barlow on Jun 5, 2019 10:30:16 AM

Stage 5 of the 8-Stage Process of Transformation

Empowering a Broad Base of Supporters

Part of our Series on Leading & Adopting Change

A major transformation effort cannot succeed without broad support, in attitude and in action, across your organization. In order to get this support, people need to be inspired by the vision and empowered by leadership – in this case, “empowered” means that employees feel capable of helping, that their help is needed, and that organization structures, systems, and supervisors are also in alignment with the vision.

Stages 1-4 of a transformation effort are:

  1. Establish urgency for change,
  2. Build a guiding coalition,
  3. Develop a vision for change, and
  4. Communicate that change vision.

These four stages can inspire people to support the transformation effort, but there are numerous obstacles that can still block them from having the power to do so.

In this article, we summarize Stage 5 of John Kotter’s Leading Change, sharing how leadership can remove these obstacles and enable the people in their organization to give vital support needed for success.

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Topics: change management

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