8-13-15 – News – The BCAT IRB Survival Kit

BCAT The IRB Survival Kit

The most stressful part of building or enhancing an IT system, arguably, is not programming, but successfully surviving the IT Investment Review Board (IRB) and other milestone requirements. Engineers and programmers are expected to write and promote a business case for a project while being thrown into a sea of laws, regulations and policies that threaten to delay the entire effort. Getting through IRBs for back office systems development projects can be particularly hard because less experienced staff assigned to these smaller projects may not get through the IRB as easily, adding rework and delaying projects.

Raise the chances of surviving your IRB within your timeline and with your sanity intact. Use these tips to build your own “survival kit” and stay focused on developing systems instead of building strategies.

Train, Train, Train. Each member of your team needs to know what to expect at the IRB before you begin writing your business case. Understanding why the IRB exists and its goals makes the process more positive and provides each writer with a common vision. Instruction and coaching on business case structure, costing and CPIC provides a common foundation and investment process language so that everyone sounds like an expert. Lastly, reviewing the laws, regulation and policies will dramatically reduce your risk of non-compliance—the most common reason that investments fail the IRB.

Create a Repository of Success. Providing a repository of successful business cases helps the team understand the end goal and a consistent approach brings structure to your business case and presentation. Include a list of successful stakeholders in your repository–when you are backed up by all of your stakeholders, your business case will be iron clad.

Practice ‘Till You Drop. Never go into an IRB without practicing your presentation, a script and multiple team practices. Consider using a video camera to record your presentation, allowing you to truly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Rehearsals may reveal that your initial presentation is not effective, so don’t get frustrated if it must be rewritten from scratch. Your rewrite will get your message across clearly and with impact.

Don’t Forget the Cheat Sheet. Expect the IRB to ask all the tough questions. Be ready with a comprehensive list of answers and decide beforehand who will speak about which topic. Review and quiz each other about these details before the IRB so that the notes are needed only for the most complex issues. Be careful to organize answers in a logical manner—nothing increases stress like dead silence while shuffling through papers at an IRB.

Consult with the Experts. XLA’s BCAT team has taken multiple Federal programs and IT systems through successful IRBs in less than three months. Their proven Investment Review Framework, which includes more than 50 templates, instruction and one-on-one coaching, imparts a big picture view to your team, helping you survive and fly through any IRB review. Learn more about BCAT at www.xla.com/BCAT.


8-11-15 – XLA Announces New Systems Development Management Solution

BCAT Couples Successful Systems Delivery with Continuous Learning

Tysons Corner, Virginia (August 11, 2015) – Tysons Corner-based XLA today announced the launch of its new systems development lifecycle management solution – BCAT. Short for Business Capability Analysis and Training, BCAT has already proven to reduce rework in systems development projects, including development of back-office systems.

BCAT uses a reliable, repeatable process to help government staff successfully navigate the Investment Review Board (IRB) process by using its unique Investment Solution Framework to produce better documentation the first time, every time. The Framework helps government staff navigate systems development milestone gate reviews more efficiently and effectively, while receiving valuable practical instruction along the way.

“The value of XLA’s BCAT solution lies in the continuous instruction and coaching that our experts provide to government employees throughout the systems development process,” said Gary Slack, President of XLA. “BCAT leaves clients with the most valuable artifact of all – a well-schooled, continuous learning workforce.”

The BCAT Investment Solution Framework:

  • Integrates the needs of each stakeholder group into all artifacts throughout the IT investment lifecycle
  • Defines, describes, executes and defends needed investments in your unique business environment
  • Provides a support environment that guides your investment efforts to approval and completion with less rework, and offers side-by-side coaching at every stage of the process

“The BCAT solution is best suited to mid-sized back office systems development projects where government staff may be less-experienced in producing documentation for systems development projects,” Weber said. “Our team helped a DoD customer rework a failed IT business case – and in only 3 months the case was completely overhauled and sailed through the IRB. Our efforts helped systems engineers focus on what they do best – getting IT systems built and working.”

To learn more about BCAT and the Investment Solutions Framework, visit www.xla.com/BCAT or call (703) 848-0400.


XLA is a leading provider of program and systems lifecycle management, financial management, engineering and technical solutions, and international program-support services to the Federal government. XLA has more than 24 years of experience supporting mission-critical requirements for Federal agencies. XLA is a portfolio company of The Halifax Group.