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acquisition_policies.jpg
The graph Acquisition Security Related Policies & Issuances Chart (acq.osd.mil, PDF version) by the Office of the Director, Defence Research and Engineering is meant to increase the awareness of existing policies, in order to improve compliance, and to get policymakers to reflect about writing "one more policy" now that they are able to observe the huge existing "heap" they actually contribute to. The chart's designers are interested in your constructive feedback to make it better (and maybe help your country at the same time?).

The chart organizes acquisition security policies and guidance by purpose and the responsible offices. It shows all policies a typical acquisition program may need to comply with, and links them directly to the appropriate texts. The bins or categories for the policies emerged during the creation process itself: some policies clearly spanned multiple bins, and were placed appropriately, by overlapping across multiple bins.

The creators of the graph (3 people who worked over a period of more than 3 months) claim they have gotten positive feedback from the "operational crowd", that is the people who actually "use" this to do their work. The target audiences are DoD "acquisition program managers" and "security people" who are responsible for complying with these policies, and DoD "acquisition security policy makers" who contribute to this rich policy universe.

The chart was designed in Microsoft Visio, which enabled including hyperlinks from policy boxes to their full texts, making the graph interactive and more "than just wall art". In the future, they like to make the chart more interactive such that users could tick certain criteria and only the relevant policies would stay visible.

Any ideas for improvement?

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acq-security-policy-tool-chart.jpg

10 COMMENTS

This chart and project management charts contain similar types of information (and similar bad design choices).

A thread on the Tufte forums (http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=000076&topic_id=1&topic=Ask%20E.T.) contains a lot of great information and the ideas there could be applied here.

Tufte provided 2 examples:
The blown-up view: http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/images/00008m-112.jpg

and the detail view: http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/images/00008m-115.jpg

Thu 19 Nov 2009 at 3:48 AM
Nick

It's not beautiful but I bet it is functional. The color coding doesn't work very well to my eye -- too many shades, too much ambiguity, too much distance between the key and the boxes. (They also don't work very well together.) Duplicating the OPR information on each rectangle would be valuable.

Are square rectangles vs. rounded rectangles (there are a few) meaningful?

The design would be a lot less geometrically constrained if there were a less literal way to describe policies that span domains. Maybe an icon could indicate that a particular document appears more than once in the taxonomy?

Thu 19 Nov 2009 at 4:19 AM
tim

It's ugly. I don't trust it.

Thu 19 Nov 2009 at 7:24 AM
tyson

tim - thanks for the feedback. I struggled a lot with the color coding and agree that it's not the most beautiful thing in the world. The one plus side is that it makes a good argument for how many different offices are contributing to the policy pile :).

One idea might be to rework the colors (now that the policies are place) so that they flow from one end of a spectrum to another. I just found out about Kuler and want to see if there is a way to use that.

Good catch on the rounded boxes - they are not policies, just lists. I need to make that more clear.

Thu 19 Nov 2009 at 9:33 AM
Jonathan Goodnight

@tyson. So what do you propose to make it more trustworthy / beautiful?

Thu 19 Nov 2009 at 11:07 PM

Nick - that ET thread is awesome.

I do like the idea of zooming in to show more detail... right now this is flat. The chart actually spawned a very similar one devoted solely to Information Assurance policies (bottom left-ish)... I can see this developing into a super-chart that links to sub-charts for each bin.

What design choices would you have made differently?

Fri 20 Nov 2009 at 2:23 AM
Jonathan Goodnight

Nick - that ET thread is awesome.

I do like the idea of zooming in to show more detail... right now this is flat. The chart actually spawned a very similar one devoted solely to Information Assurance policies (bottom left-ish)... I can see this developing into a super-chart that links to sub-charts for each bin.

What design choices would you have made differently?

Fri 20 Nov 2009 at 2:24 AM
Jonathan Goodnight

Jonathan, is there any possibility of releasing the Visio document? I find it easier to explore ideas if I have the actual thing to work with.

Tue 01 Dec 2009 at 11:30 AM

The IATAC has recently released a similiar chart for Information Assurance purposes. It can be found at: http://iac.dtic.mil/iatac/ia_policychart.html

Tue 15 Dec 2009 at 7:27 AM

I like it and use it often. If you do this line of work, it should be wall art and electronic. I find my printed copy, hanging in the cube, gets just as much use from my customer base when they come seeking answers.

Wed 30 Jun 2010 at 8:43 AM
Adrian A
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