The ACE Program is Customs and Border Protection's effort to modernize all of their systems that touch the process of bringing cargo across the border. We were designing and building tools in JAVA SWING, and in HTML, JSP, and JSF on top of a web portal to support a deeply complex set of matrixed data and 275 defined user roles for members of the trade community (carriers, brokers, importers, consignees, and all other users who care about moving cargo in and out of the country), participating government agency users (ranging from INS to the FDA), and CBP employees (including the officers at the border, and the people who administer the data, support the users, and manage the tools).
I oversaw designers on five teams at various points in development process: production and enhancement, and 4 new initiatives at various points in development process (one though development, one through requirements and design, one in design/development, and one in requirements/design). Each project had different business and development processes, and tended to be isolated from one another. I grew the team from 4 to 15 people, and managed 15-18 designers and writers across these five teams. I also served as the Acting Team Lead for one initiative for the first three months, where I defined the schedule, process, and documents that the development and design teams would follow. I was the Acting UI Lead for all of these teams at the begining of my tenure, until I could hire and develop UI Leads for 4 of the teams, freeing me to focus on the tasks I was specifically hired to complete.
As the UI Architect, I was responsible for all aspects of the user interface for all ACE Portal projects. Most of my work on a day-to-day basis fell under the aegis of management, design reviews, problem-solving, and design direction. In the course of a typical day, I interacted with business analysts, subject matter experts, technical experts, developers, testers, and designers on five different projects, working collaboratively to resolve issues, review design choices and specifications, clarify requirements, manage any unplanned or unexpected issues, and to ensure successful design, development and deployment of software.
Traditionally, the software has been designed and built in a series of functional silos without consideration for universal design standards, 508 compliancy, or a consistant user interface. I was tasked with fixing each of those situations, in building out the UI team, and in improving portal team documentation and larger team processes in a time of shifting budgets. I was responsible for establishing a common UI style guide, standard Portal guidelines, defining the information architectures of new and existing products, and ensuring that the teams abide by them. I pinch-hit for other leads and architects in our group when necesary, and worked with customers to ensure their satisfaction.
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