Developing a seamless and elegant digital experience for federal clients can be an ambitious undertaking. Government entities require a mature development and managerial process that can deliver secure products in a determined timeline. The solutions need to be flexible, reliable and easily grown.
At Mobomo, we’ve been developing intuitive solutions for federal clients for over a decade. We have successfully developed and deployed Drupal products for agencies including GSA, USGS, NASA, FERC, VOA, and NOAA. We have remained agile and nimble in our approach to each project, and Acquia is our chosen partner to help us combat these obstacles to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Let’s dive deeper into what exactly these challenges are and how we’ve addressed them for our federal clients.
The Challenges Federal Clients Encounter
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has labeled government entities as “the dinosaurs of the digital age: slow, lumbering, and outdated”. In general, there is a large gap between the digital experience of a private company versus a government site, and now the government agencies are putting extra resources into catching up. In working on some of these modernization projects, we have encountered these four areas of difficulty:
1. Speed in Delivering New Features
Flexibility is a key component needed when working with federal agencies. Expectations and requests can quickly change depending on the priorities of the organization, so government entities expect speed in delivering new features and modules to their product. Due to the need to be accessible to the general public, these sites cannot be offline for updates or modifications and all changes need to occur quickly and seamlessly. This was one of the most important components needed for our client, (Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN).
MBN is an American Arabic-language non-profit media organization that broadcasts news and information across the Middle East and North African regions. They came to us with a goal to streamline their digital properties and provide journalistic freedom and flexibility to author, publish and broadcast digital content across six different websites. Since they were looking to share up-to-date news across multiple languages, all deployments needed to be quick. Our team designed a cherry picker tool to use with the Acquia Platform.
This tool allows a development environment with distinct experimental features to exist and be deployable separate from UAT/Prod, while still allowing development to continue within UAT/Prod. By using this tool, we are able to continuously develop and produce new features without disruption to the main branch of the repository. Overall, this solution supports the release of new features quickly, with no production delays for MBN’s audience.
2. Robust Solutions to Complex Requirements
Government agencies are responsible for disseminating a lot of information and resources to a broad audience. Typically, this means that their sites host an abundance of content and use over 200 Drupal modules to collect and make available various resources. The complexity of their CI/CD pipeline means that they need a robust and flexible solution that easily meets all of their requirements.
Mobomo supported NOAA Fisheries on their Drupal 8 Modernization project. At the time, we had to redefine the information architecture of more than 16 different websites. This was done by pulling information and data from multiple external applications via APIs. After a thorough content audit and the development of a new content strategy, our team chose CircleCi to automate the process and enable a continuous integration system.
Additionally, we employed Tugboat to speed up the code reviews and QA, ensuring that we were producing the best product for our client. Using both of these tools together, we were able to simplify the process through automation and guarantee that we were successfully deploying the large-scale product.
Our team has developed an enhancement to the Acquia Site Factory deployment process. We call this enhancement Site Factory Factory. It utilizes the Acquia Site Factory API underneath, but incorporates some specific touch points needed for our federal clients. Below is a list of additional functionalities our tool supports:
- Shows site IDs and task logs for easy reference
- Uses a clear caches button
- Contains cherry picker tool
- Displays tickets, respective merges and Jira statuses
- Builds a list of tickets for approval by the Change Control Board
Overall, this tool supports in simplifying the deployment and reporting process for our team of developers and stakeholders. It also ensures that we are meeting all requirements as stated by the SOW and various compliance standards.
3. Traceability and Collaboration in Development
Government agencies require a mature project management system that allows for complete transparency and collaboration throughout the development process to manage multiple stakeholders and adhere to federal record-keeping requirements.
Our team at Mobomo uses Jira and Slack integrations to enhance our collaboration. We use Jira to control and keep track of all the work streams through the creation of tickets. This ticket will then flow through our development lifecycle as we hit key milestones such as Peer Review, Deployed, etc. We have set up these tickets to automatically transition based on built in release tags. By integrating with Slack, our development channel is notified of any new tickets created or the movement of tickets. At which point, clients can review the progress and send feedback or questions. This automated process saves our management team time and allows for up-to-date reports to be sent to our clients.
4. Meeting Federal Compliance Standards
Finally, federal agencies need to be able to guarantee that their products meet FedRAMP standards. FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) is a standardized security assessment and authorization for cloud products that ensures all federal data is highly protected.
Acquia’s compliance portfolio is unmatched by all other Drupal hosting providers and includes FedRAMP as well as SOC 1, SOC 2, PCI, HIPAA, ISO 27001, CSA STAR and GDPR.
Why Mobomo Partners with Acquia
Acquia has been a preferred partner of Mobomo for many years. Since we support many Drupal websites, we are extremely happy to serve our clients with a partnership with such deep roots in the Drupal community that directly contributes to the Drupal project. They had a solid foundation of solutions optimized for Drupal that made building and shipping sites easy and fast. Acquia’s FedRAMP certification allows us to offer the highest level of security to our clients, and their robust API provides a level of flexibility, allowing us to make upgrades as needed.
Together, we have supported multiple federal projects including migrations, web modernization and web redesigns. These projects have won awards such as the Vega Digital Awards, Muse Creative Awards and Webbys.
If you would like to learn more about Mobomo’s services or offerings, please contact us here.
Every project has their individual challenges. Being aware of the obstacles and being prepared to tackle them can be the difference between a successful launch and a stressful one. With federal clients, some of these initial challenges could be speed in delivering new features, developing a robust solution to large-scale problems, collaboration in the development process, and guaranteeing to your clients’ federal compliance standards. Preparing for these challenges can change the course of your project workstream.