HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES AWARDED POSITION ON $10B 8(a) STARS II CONTRACT

Fairfax, VA – The highly anticipated, $10B 8(a) STARS II Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) on-ramp award list was released on June 13, 2017. Highlight Technologies, LLC, a Fairfax, Virginia-based technology and management services firm, is among the 500+ companies that have been on-ramped to this contract.

The 8(a) STARS II contract is a multiple-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) vehicle that allows federal agencies to quickly and easily contract with information technology firms that have been pre-vetted by GSA to have competitive pricing and technical proficiency. By using 8(a) STARS II, federal agencies can gain access to leading edge technology solutions through a centralized and streamlined vehicle, saving time and taxpayer money.

Highlight Technologies was awarded the contract in both constellations and all eight functional areas. The 8(a) STARS II award allows directed task orders up to $4M for all federal agencies through August 30, 2021 with performance period through 2024.

“We are delighted to have this important vehicle, which opens the door to many great opportunities for the company. STARS II will be a great vehicle to help us continue to serve many of the customers we have acquired through the 8(a) program,” said Rebecca Andino, CEO of Highlight Technologies.

About Highlight Technologies, LLC

Highlight Technologies, LLC is an award-winning 8(a), woman-owned, ISO 9001:2015, CMMI Level 2 small business that provides IT, Security, and Program Management services to over a dozen Civilian, DoD, and IC agencies. Our customers include BBG, DISA, EPA, FDIC, FTC, GSA, the Joint Staff, NIH, NDU, SBA, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Departments of Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Veterans Affairs. For more information please visit www.highlighttech.com.

QUALITY ASSURANCE – A MEANS TO AN END (PART I)

Axiom on Quality Assurance

“Quality is achieved only through diligent process surveillance”

This article is the first of two parts which are intended to introduce and define Quality Assurance (QA) and describe some of the many activities that QA is involved with in support of software and systems engineering requirements. It will also describe important process improvement initiatives such as the CMMI Institute and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2015 Standard within Highlight Technologies. While the main focus of this article is to educate us about what QA is, we will also briefly describe what QA is not.

QA is a planned and systematic approach to the evaluation of, the quality of, and adherence to product standards, processes, and procedures. Quality Assurance includes the process of assuring that standards and procedures are established and are followed throughout the software and systems engineering developmental and/or hardware life cycle. It is important to understand that QA does not write the standards or establish the processes and procedures used in the process. Compliance with standards, processes, and procedures is evaluated through process monitoring, product evaluation, and audits. Control of processes include QA approval points, where a QA audit is conducted.

A project team uses standards and established procedures since these provide the framework from which the product evolves. Standards are the established criteria to which the products are compared and procedures are the established criteria to which the development and control processes are compared. Both are critical to the developmental process because they establish the prescribed methods for developing the software or systems engineering product. The QA role is to ensure their existence and adequacy. Proper documentation of standards and procedures is necessary since the QA activities of process monitoring, product evaluation, and auditing rely upon unequivocal definitions to measure project compliance. Product evaluation is a QA activity that assures standards are being followed, while process monitoring ensures that appropriate steps to carry out the processes are being followed.

HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES IS AN AUTHORIZED ELASTICSEARCH DEALER

On June 1, 2017, Highlight Technologies executed a Participating Dealer agreement with EC America for their Elasticsearch Federal GSA program. As a result, Highlight is now authorized to quote, receive orders, and accept payment on behalf of EC America for Elasticsearch Federal opportunities.

For Federal agencies, this means that Highlight can provide Elastic-based solutions using GSA approved pricing for licenses and other Elastic products such as vendor training.

The Elastic Stack, consisting of Elastic, Logstash, Kibana, and Beats, is the most widely used collection of open source products for solving mission-critical use cases like search, logging, analytics, and visualization. This is open-source product portfolio is used by millions of developers worldwide and is used by leading technology companies and government agencies including NASA JPL, USGS, and the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information about the company and the product suite, please visit https://www.elastic.co/.

For more information or to request an Elasticsearch quote, please contact Elaine Schlegel, Director of Contracts.

HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES AWARDED HEALTH IT SIN UNDER GSA IT SCHEDULE 70

Fairfax, VA – Highlight Technologies, LLC, an award-winning provider of information technology, security management, professional, administrative, and mission support services, has been awarded the Health IT Special Item Number (SIN) 132-56 under their GSA IT Schedule 70 Contract GS-35F-0040X.

The General Services Administration (GSA) launched a new Health IT Special Item Number (SIN) that increases the visibility and access of Health IT services to customer agencies. The Health IT SIN has been added to the $15 billion IT Schedule 70 Program. Agency customers and industry partners now have access to innovative and cutting-edge Health IT technologies that are more visible and accessible.

Under the Health IT SIN 132-56, Highlight Technologies can expand their expertise to include:

  • Innovative Health IT Solutions
  • Health Informatics
  • Connected Health
  • Health Information Exchanges
  • Health Analytics
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Emerging Health IT Research
  • Personal Health Information Management
  • Other Health IT Services

About Highlight Technologies, LLC

Highlight Technologies, LLC is an award-winning 8(a), woman-owned, ISO 9001:2015, CMMI Level 2 small business that provides IT, Security, and Program Management services to over a dozen Civilian, DoD, and IC agencies. Our customers include BBG, DISA, EPA, FDIC, FTC, the Joint Staff, NIH, NDU, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Departments of Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Veterans Affairs. For more information please visit www.highlighttech.com.

HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES, LLC RECOGNIZED AT VIRGINIA’S FANTASTIC 50 AWARDS 2017

Fairfax, VA – Highlight Technologies has been recognized as one of the fifty fastest growing companies of 2017 by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. The Fantastic Fifty Banquet was held on April 27, 2017 at the Westfields
Marriott in Chantilly. The banquet was preceded by a large networking reception which connects the winning companies and sparks many new business deals.

This is Highlight Technologies’ first time receiving this award. The Virginia Fantastic 50 Awards is the only program that highlights 50 of Virginia’s fastest growing companies on a statewide basis and is open to all types of businesses.

“It is a honor to be recognized with this prestigious award. It reflects the hard work of our employees and the trust that our customers and teaming partners have put in our company. We are grateful to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and congratulate all of our fellow awardees in the Fantastic 50,” said Rebecca Andino, CEO of Highlight Technologies, LLC.

About the Virginia Chamber of Commerce

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is the largest business advocacy organization in the Commonwealth, with more than 26,000 members. The Chamber is the leading non-partisan business advocacy organization that works in the legislative, regulatory, civic and judicial arenas at the state and federal level to be a force for long-term economic growth in the Commonwealth. Learn more at www.vachamber.com

About Highlight Technologies, LLC

Highlight Technologies, LLC is an award-winning 8(a), woman-owned, ISO 9001:2015, CMMI Level 2 small business that provides IT, Security, and Program Management services to over a dozen Civilian, DoD, and IC agencies. Our customers include BBG, DISA, EPA, FDIC, FTC, the Joint Staff, NIH, NDU, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Departments of Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Veterans Affairs. For more information please visit www.highlighttech.com.

HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES SR. PROJECT MANAGER CHRISTOPHER MCGRATH SELECTED AS 2017 YOUNG AFCEA 40 UNDER 40 AWARD WINNER

Fairfax, VA – Highlight Technologies’ Senior Project Manager Christopher McGrath has been selected for the 2017 Young AFCEA 40 Under 40 Award! The Young AFCEA 40 Under 40 Award is given to 40 individuals ages 40 and under for their significant contributions in a technical STEM field by providing innovation, thought leadership, and support to their client or organization using information technology (IT).

Christopher has over 10 years of experience in the contracting services industry. As Highlight Technologies’ Recruiting and Project Manager, he is responsible for managing talent acquisition for all projects and contracts, as well as managing the talented staff at Highlight in order to achieve the government’s goals. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP), a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and an Informational Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3) Professional.

McGrath will receive the award on June 14 at AFCEA’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium (DCOS) at the Baltimore Convention Center.

About Highlight Technologies, LLC

Highlight Technologies, LLC is an award-winning 8(a), woman-owned, ISO 9001:2015, CMMI Level 2 small business that provides IT, Security, and Program Management services to over a dozen Civilian, DoD, and IC agencies. Our customers include BBG, DISA, EPA, FDIC, FTC, the Joint Staff, NIH, NDU, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Departments of Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Veterans Affairs. For more information please visit www.highlighttech.com.

HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES, LLC AWARDED CONTRACT FOR DHS’S $1.5 BILLION PACTS II IDIQ VEHICLE

Fairfax, VA – In March 2017, Highlight Technologies, LLC was awarded a prime contract to provide Professional and Administrative Support ServicesDHS-Seal1 to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The company will provide these services through the Program Management, Administrative, Clerical and Technical Services (PACTS II) contract vehicle under Functional Category (FC) 1 Program Management & Technical Services and FC 2 Administrative and Operation Services. The maximum cumulative dollar value of all contracts in this program is $1.5 Billion.

Highlight Technologies is a member of the Strategic Alliance Business Group Joint Venture (SABG JV), a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). SABG JV is one of only two companies who have received awards in both PACTS II functional categories.

“As a member of SABG JV, we are pleased to have a spot on this important contract, and we look forward to continuing and expanding our support to DHS under the PACTS II vehicle,” said Rebecca Andino, CEO of Highlight Technologies, LLC.

This is Highlight’s fourth contract with DHS. Highlight currently provides SharePoint Management, Knowledge Management, Network Support, and Database Management and Reports Development services for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and DHS Headquarters (HQ).

About Highlight Technologies, LLC

Highlight Technologies, LLC is an award-winning 8(a), woman-owned, ISO 9001:2015, CMMI Level 2 small business that provides IT, Security, and Program Management services to over a dozen Civilian, DoD, and IC agencies. Our customers include BBG, DISA, EPA, FDIC, FTC, the Joint Staff, NIH, NDU, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Departments of Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Veterans Affairs. For more information please visit www.highlighttech.com.

ADAM MCNAIR JOINS HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES AS CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER (COO)

Fairfax, VA – In February 2017, Adam McNair was named Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Highlight Technologies, a Fairfax, Virginia-based information technology firm providing information technology, security, and program and administrative services to U.S. civilian, intelligence, and defense federal agencies. At Highlight, McNair will oversee all programs and lead business development efforts.

McNair has over 20 years of experience serving federal agencies in both government and industry. He most recently served as Chief Administrative Officer and Group President for DMI, and before that worked as Vice President of CACI responsible for profit and loss and business development in civilian federal agencies.

McNair is involved in industry organizations including ACT/IAC and WashingtonExec, which promote collaboration between government and industry.

“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to work with Highlight and assist in growth to create more opportunities for all of our employees. I’m looking forward to fostering the culture that CEO Rebecca Andino and EVP Jim Flynn have established, and to continuing to make a difference for our nation,” said McNair.

About Highlight Technologies, LLC

Highlight Technologies, LLC is an award-winning 8(a), woman-owned, ISO 9001:2015, CMMI Level 2 small business that provides IT, security, and program management services to over a dozen Civilian, DoD, and IC agencies. Our customers include BBG, DISA, EPA, FDIC, FTC, the Joint Staff, NIH, NDU, NGA, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Departments of Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, Navy, State, and Veterans Affairs. For more information, please visit www.highlighttech.com.

HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES NAMED AS FINALIST FOR SECAF’S 2017 GOVERNMENT CONTRACTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD

April 4, 2017, Fairfax, VA — Highlight Technologies is one of many dynamic companies nominated for the 2017 Small Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum (SECAF) Government Contractor of the Year Awards for $12 – $25 million in revenue category. This will be Highlight’s second finalist nomination. In 2015, Highlight was recognized as a finalist for the SECAF Awards in the $6 – $12 million in revenue category.

“It is an exciting honor to be a finalist in the SECAF Awards program, and we look forward to celebrating with all of our peers in industry,” said Rebecca Andino, CEO of Highlight Technologies.

“The SECAF Awards Gala is the preeminent annual event that spotlights small businesses that are doing outstanding and innovating work in the government contracting community,” said Cameron Hamilton, Chairman of SECAF and Principal at The McLean Group.

The winners will be announced at the 9th Annual SECAF Awards Gala on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at the Hilton in McLean, VA. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2nSITUd.

About Highlight Technologies, LLC

Highlight Technologies, LLC is an award-winning 8(a), woman-owned, ISO 9001:2015, CMMI Level 2 small business that provides IT, Security, and Program Management services to over a dozen Civilian, DoD, and IC agencies. Our customers include BBG, DISA, EPA, FDIC, FTC, the Joint Staff, NIH, NDU, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the Departments of Army, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Veterans Affairs. For more information, please visit www.highlighttech.com.

About The Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum

The Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum (SECAF) enables the small and emerging government contractor to achieve maximum growth rates in a highly competitive marketplace. Providing members with business resources, access to influencers and government agencies, and advocacy opportunities and education, SECAF is an important resource for a growing company. SECAF also serves the medium to large government contractors, providing invaluable introductions to specialized small businesses that enable the overall contracting community to work successfully in tandem. For more information, visit www.secaf.org.

LEGACY SYSTEMS MODERNIZATION TO THE CLOUD: 5 LESSONS LEARNED

Modernizing legacy systems to the cloud is a hot topic for many government agencies as they strive to increase operational efficiencies and cost effectiveness in carrying out services on behalf of the American people.

The experts at Highlight Technologies have worked on key government legacy system modernizations to the cloud and have learned some important lessons in the process. We share our lessons learned here in hopes they can help improve government legacy system modernizations going forward.

1. HELP USERS SEE HOW THE NEW SYSTEM BETTER ENABLES THEIR BUSINESS PROCESSES

Although technology advances rendered by cloud platforms offer clear advantages when modernizing systems, user skepticism about the new features of modernized systems often exists, especially among users accustomed to a single legacy system with outmoded features. Such users are prone to perceiving what the system does (system workflow) and business process as the same – a view that often leads users to conclude that system feature changes represent unacceptable process changes. To overcome resistance to new system features, it is crucial to effectively communicate to users the efficiencies enabled by the new system and to highlight how the new features are aligned to their agency’s business processes.

In modernizing a government emergency responder deployment system, our team met with user resistance to new features that differed from legacy system features. To address this hurdle, we conducted repeated in-person user education sessions that demonstrated how the new system aligned to the agency’s business processes. Motivated by these sessions, one user decided to confirm for herself the new system’s efficiencies by performing emergency responder dispatch functions on both the new system and the legacy system. She discovered that, although the newly designed features differed from those she was accustomed to in the legacy system, the new system performed emergency responder dispatching in just 13 minutes compared to over 60 minutes for the same function on the old system – a more than 400% time saving. This user’s experience served as testimony for other users about the new system’s increased capacity to enable critical agency business processes.

Key Lesson Learned: Help boost user acceptance by enabling stakeholders to understand how the new system better enables their critical business processes.

2. ENHANCE EXPLORATION OF POTENTIAL NEW FEATURES AND SYSTEM DESIGN WITH AGILE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

Using Agile software development in modernizations to the cloud encourages exploration of new system features which accelerates the development of system efficiencies. Because the cloud platform enables faster system feature builds than in non-cloud environments, it facilitates Agile software development testing features. As a result, development teams are able to provide more frequent opportunities for users to “test drive” system features and provide valuable feedback that will inform design and strengthen integration capacities of the new system.

At the start of one government legacy system modernization to the cloud, user stakeholders found themselves unable to envision any system requirements beyond “make the new system features identical to those in the old system.” By conducting numerous system feature trial runs for user stakeholders – and encouraging their frequent and honest feedback – our team helped create a climate conducive to experimentation. As they experienced firsthand the new system’s efficiencies, stakeholders’ ability to think through system design possibilities expanded. Capitalizing on the testing advantages of Agile software development in the cloud not only facilitated user feedback that informed development efforts but it fostered stakeholder exploration of new system possibilities.

Key Lesson Learned: Capitalize on testing advantages of Agile software development in the cloud to facilitate user feedback and foster stakeholder exploration of new system possibilities.

3. DON’T OVERLOOK LICENSE REQUIREMENTS

Just as car buying involves elements beyond the vehicle itself – like auto insurance, parking permits and vehicle maintenance – successful legacy system modernizations to the cloud take into account implications beyond the platform itself. Especially critical in this regard is the area of software product licenses. Since any cloud-based system can only function optimally when appropriate licensing requirements are in place, it is crucial to help the client agency’s IT department ascertain all licenses required to enable the new system to function as expected.

One of our government clients with a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud platform in use prior to their legacy system modernization assumed that all licenses required for user operation of the new system were already in place. This turned out to not be the case – and our team stepped up with research and expert advice to help the IT department determine all licenses required for effective functioning of the modernized system.

Thanks to their experience with the licensing structure complexities of the SaaS cloud product in use by our client, our experts knew what questions the agency’s IT department should ask in order to determine the right license purchases. These questions included: How many users must access the new system? What functions must users be able to perform and are the right licenses in place to enable this? Will there be other applications on the same cloud platform and, if so, what licenses facilitate integration of these multiple systems? Through this dialogue, our team helped the client agency envision the long-term benefits of addressing all licensing needs and assess the full range of associated costs. As a result, the IT department was able to present a compelling business case for additional license purchases that won the approval of agency decision-makers.

Key Lesson Learned: Make the technical and business case for all licensing requirements – and their associated costs – so that client agency budget approvals and acquisitions can proceed.

4. FACTOR GOVERNMENT-MANDATED IT SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS INTO YOUR PROJECT PLAN

Because incorporating cloud-based systems into the Federal government IT infrastructure entails assessment and authorization (A&A) through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), effective communication with the appropriate Security Department and IT Department stakeholders is a crucial step toward obtaining the necessary Authority to Operate (ATO). Since approaches to leveraging the FedRAMP process vary widely – with some agencies extensively involved and others less so – it is vitally important to learn from your client agency’s Security Department and IT Department stakeholders what they specifically need to meet all government-mandated IT security requirements.

Realizing our government client was relatively new to security considerations in cloud environments, we met with lead stakeholders early on to learn details about their agency’s ATO process. We soon discovered our client agency followed more stringent FedRAMP requirements than anticipated and that this would result in the target cloud platform and products used in the modernization needing additional certifications. Our team mobilized with the appropriate IT and Security stakeholders in coordinating the efforts to ensure all government-mandated IT security requirements got met so that new system release could proceed without delay. This experience highlights the importance of ascertaining at project outset your client agency’s approach to meeting applicable government-mandated IT security requirements and of incorporating these considerations into your project plan.

Key Lesson Learned: Engage early on with IT and Security stakeholders to determine their agency’s approach for addressing government IT security mandates and factor those considerations into your project plan to help ensure on-time system release

5. ESTABLISH APPROPRIATE LEGACY SYSTEM PERMISSION CONTROLS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM TO FACILITATE SEAMLESS DATA MIGRATION

Modernizations of legacy systems to the cloud must not only take into account permission controls that enable stakeholders to effectively access and operate the new system but also those required by project developers to access the old system during the development phase. Establishing the correct legacy system access permissions at project outset significantly improves the likelihood of seamless data migration – a cornerstone of successful legacy system modernizations.

When tasked by a government client to consolidate two legacy systems and modernize the unified system to the cloud, our experts started by identifying permission controls needed by all stakeholders to access the new system as well as those required by developers to access the legacy systems during the development phase. At first, our client denied legacy system access to our development team because they assumed their IT people could readily extract the old systems’ data and import it into the new one. Only after failing in their attempts to extract “importable-friendly” data did the client agency decide to reassign this task to our team and grant them the necessary legacy system access. Using the accesses provided, our team quickly developed data migration software scripts, exported all legacy system data and imported it in readable form into the new system.

Key Lesson Learned: Address the full range of legacy system permissions requirements for the modernization development team to help ensure seamless data migration