This paper was first published in CrossTalk, The Journal of Defense Software Engineering, Vol. 20 No. 8, August 2007. It is copyright to Capt. Steven Lucks and CrossTalk, ©2007.
ublished here February 2008.

Introduction | Problems and Issues | Practical Technical Challenges
Security Issues | Building a System That Would Work for Iraq
U.S. Government Makes IRMS the Standard | Summary

Problems and Issues

The Information Technology (IT) team, which consisted of contractors from the United States, including the native small business association firms, and local Iraqis, could have built an IT system to solely run the coalition's reconstruction effort. That would have been cheaper and easier, since it would function entirely in English and run on off the shelf and DoD supplied software. Instead, they opted for the complexity of writing additional code that let the system run in parallel with Arabic and Kurdish. This option ensured that the investment in technology and processes needed to manage the reconstruction had ongoing value that could be transferred to the Iraqis, focusing on what happens the day after the contractors leave. The master database built by the combined team was named the Iraq Reconstruction Management System (IRMS).

The major components of the IRMS system included Maximo (owns the requirements/assets); ESRI (defines the location); Oracle e-Business (exhibits cost and performance), Primavera P3ec (develops the schedule), DoD standard procurement system (authors the contracts), DoD Corps of Engineers (ACE) financial management system (manages the finances), DoD requirements management system (captures the construction), Oracle e-Success (delivers the estimates), Expedition (provides project controls), and Oracle Portal (spans the program, gateway to the solution) all running on Unix, Linux, and Microsoft (MS). Net operating systems were accessed via MS Office on the desktop.

Connecting the various components that comprise the system was relatively easy compared to the logistics and danger to workers building the data center and offices. Regarding the software build, the distance and time zone differences had to be taken into consideration because Iraq as well as Virginia, California, and Washington had to be linked and functioning in real time. Personnel in Iraq often worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week in the software effort. Configuration management was a central issue to ensure success.

Building the data center and its infrastructure was harder to accomplish than building the software. Many of the Iraqi men had limited education due to what Iraqis reported as Saddam Hussein's tendency to restrict education for the males to the sixth grade. This made it difficult because the team had to find qualified locals who turned out to be educated females. This presented a problem in a culture dominated by men where women were not valued for their knowledge or ability to work outside of the home. Overcoming these cultural differences by use of relationship management, statesmanship, diplomacy, and trust building allowed the formation of a world-class team.

By working with the Iraqi Console for Employment, the project received a steady flow of résumés from young Iraqi men and women who wanted to participate in what they called a privilege to work environment. There were many technologically literate Iraqis anxious to apply their skills to the rebuilding effort. They understood their skills might not be the most current, but they were ready to learn. While few of the workers had worked with advanced applications such as Maximo, many had basic technology skills and were familiar with Oracle and other common IT environments.

Introduction  Introduction

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