SDWIS NextGen Update

Those involved in SDWIS Next Gen are now preparing for a more active development phase.  The EPA contractor, Indus, is nearly finished with a Business Requirements Document (BRD) that provides higher level business needs for SDWIS Next Gen.  This is being developed using information gathered from the current SDWIS/State, along with the work of existing focus groups and the User Advisory Group.  Five “stewards” (three states, EPA HQ and RO) have been reviewing the draft BRD with Indus to recommend priorities for developing the various business requirements.  These will be considered by the SDWIS Steering Committee and final decisions made on priorities before the full development process begins.

The actual work of building SDWIS Next Gen will be accomplished using an “agile” development process that creates individual components of Next Gen through an iterative process involving product owners (EPA), focus group leaders (states), subject matter experts or SME’s (users from states and EPA), and a host of contract support staff (business analysts,  developers, testers, database administrators, and others).  This work is done in a number of “scrums” and “sprints” that will eventually cover all aspects of SDWIS Next gen.  The sprints each cover some basic element or process in Next Gen.  A group of related sprints form a scrum.  Each sprint covers 15 working days.  The first two days are used to clarify and refine the functional requirements for that sprint.  Then there is a period of analysis and design where the group determines how the module will look and act.  Then the actual development begins with developers periodically verifying that they are on the right track through interactions with the rest of the sprint team. Finally testing is done so that users can accept the finished product.  At the end, a final review is conducted to identify lessons learned that can be used to enhance future sprints and improve the overall development process.

Two evaluation sprints will be conducted in the next couple months to become familiar with the process and make tweaks before the major work begins.  These will cover user access (system administration, security) and water systems (basic inventory).  Full development will begin once EPA has received upper management approval for the plan and architecture for Next Gen.  This is expected later this year.  Until then, EPA will continue to educate states and others on the process and examine related issues like use of web services to allow outside programs to link to the SDWIS database.

A webinar for focus group members to provide more detail on the sprint process was held this week.  An archive of the webinar is available on the Next Gen Community page on the ASDWA website.  If administrators and others in the drinking water program want access to the Next Gen area on the ASDWA website so they can keep track of more Next Gen development details, please request access from Anthony.