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Kessel Run panel talks path to production

Software development experts from Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Detachment 12, Kessel Run, discuss their path to production for digital applications during a virtual Ask Me Anything July 30. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., Kessel Run is an Air Force software development unit known for its agile processes. (U.S. Air Force photo by K. Houston Waters)

Software development experts from Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Detachment 12, Kessel Run, discuss their path to production for digital applications during a virtual Ask Me Anything July 30. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., Kessel Run is an Air Force software development unit known for its agile processes. (U.S. Air Force photo by K. Houston Waters)

BOSTON, Mass. – A panel of software development experts from Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Detachment 12, Kessel Run, an Air Force software development unit headquartered here, detailed their path to production for digital applications during a virtual question and answer July 30.

Kessel Run is a hybrid acquisition and operations unit with the mission to revolutionize the manner and methods used to acquire and field software solutions for the warfighter. The topic addressed during this Ask Me Anything session came from feedback during a previous Enablement Day, as well as a recent poll.

“The poll came back unanimously that people wanted to know about Kessel Run’s path to production,” said Caleb Singer, director, Developer Services and Engagement. “So we had our experts cover the process of building applications, from design to production, as well as best practices.”

The panel of experts, comprised of military members, government civilians, and contractors representing various product lines within Kessel Run, provided answers to user-submitted questions. A few focus areas were how Kessel Run is developing apps in an agile way, the operations and function of a product team, and how its development model stacks up against legacy development models.

The experts said from a performance perspective, investing in capabilities like telemetry and observability gives designers insight into how applications are functioning, and that obtaining this feedback is critical to developing applications in an agile way.

“It’s all about shifting capabilities as quickly as possible, based on the needs of the user,” said Michael Medellin, technical lead, All Domain Common Platform. “By shortening the feedback loop and delivery time, we can bring updates into the pipeline in a faster and more agile way.”

To understand the path of production of an application, the panelists provided details on the function and operations of a product team. At Kessel Run, the product team is a tactical level unit consisting of a product manager, a designer, and six to eight developers working together to design, develop, and update an application. The team meets regularly to coordinate tasks, from solving technical issues to conducting user interviews and testing.

The panelists suggested that Kessel Run’s development model is successful because of its user-centered design, the speed in which they deliver their products, and that product teams are constantly engaging users, obtaining feedback, and making adjustments.  

“Our biggest success is incremental delivery, because we provide value constantly,” said Ben Goodrich, legacy transition tech lead, Operations Command and Control. “We’re not throwing a Hail Mary on years’ worth of work and hoping for the best. We are always delivering results and constantly adding value for our users. I think that is the biggest difference between our model and the legacy model.”

Kessel Run product teams currently manage over 60 applications. Their apps have helped to modernize Air Force Air Operations Centers by reducing costs, aircraft delays, and labor. 

Businesses partners and Department of Defense organizations interested in engaging with Kessel Run should visit https://kesselrun.af.mil/contact-us/