Getting Started

Before you submit a Request for a VA App or other services, please become familiar with VA's App development process.

About VA Apps

If VA tests an App and approves it, it is eligible to be a VA App. Some Apps must be VA Apps. See Deciding to Build a VA App for more information.

  • VA Apps undergo extensive testing and review to ensure they are safe, secure and effective. A formal review occurs when development is complete, but it is important to be familiar with the development standards early in development to avoid unnecessary rework later. See About the VA App Compliance Review for more information.
  • VA can offer planning, development and management support for chosen ideas. See About the Request Approval Process for more information.
  • VA maintains a robust Mobile App development environment and development tools that you can use to develop and test your App. See About the Mobile App Environment and Services for more information.
  • VA maintains an App Store for VA Apps. Some non-VA App stores have VA Apps. See Quick Links for their addresses.

Note: If you have already begun developing an App, you must still align your work with the VA App processes, beginning by submitting a Request. Most, if not all, of your planning and development work should align with the VA App processes.

About the VA's Mobile App Development Life Cycle

There are five stages to VA’s App development process:

  1. Planning: Define an idea for an App, review Apps already approved for development to ensure your idea is unique and then submit your idea as a Request. VA's Web and Mobile Solutions team (WMS) manages all Requests and assists you in gathering all Request requirements. See Planning a VA App for more information.
  2. Development: Develop the App to conform to VA standards. The Product Owner and the Project Manager are responsible for this stage. See Developing a VA App for more information.
  3. Compliance Upload your App code into a VA environment and submit it for review. The Compliance Review Bodies are responsible for this stage. See About the VA App Compliance Review for more information.
  4. Preproduction Simulation The App's Subject Matter Experts test the App to ensure it meets the App's functional requirements.
  5. IOC Field Testing The VHA Release Management Team conducts an Initial Operating Capability (IOC) field test.
  6. Release When the App passes IOC, VA's Office of Information and Technology (OI&T) deploys it and makes it available from all appropriate App stores. See Releasing a VA App for more information.
  7. Sustainment A VA App requires VA Help Desk support, maintenance and plans for its retirement (Sunsetting). See Sustainment for more information.

About VA's Mobile App Project Management System (MAE JIRA)

The U.S. Federal government requires that all VA software meets their standards for quality, safety and effectiveness. VA defines software development requirements and processes in its Project Management Accountability System (PMAS), which includes processes specifically designed for mobile App development. VA maintains an Atlassian JIRA system that follows the App PMAS processes. The installation resides on VA's Mobile App Environment (MAE).

About VA's Mobile App Environment (MAE)

VA maintains an environment specifically for developing and managing VA Apps to these standards. The MAE is a server installation within the VA network available only to approved users.

The MAE provides a suite of development tools and services, including:

  • VA Mobile Framework
  • VA Health Adapter
  • Hewlett Packard Fortify
  • Atlassian JIRA: Each App project has its own JIRA project tracking system that is prepopulated with many of the elements for running an agile development cycle, including many non-functional Compliance Review requirements as issues, intake forms and PMAS artifact templates.
  • Atlassian Confluence: Each approved VA App project has an accompanying Atlassian Confluence wiki space where the project team authors and maintains all of the App's documentation. VA also maintains its process documentation in a MAE wiki spaces. When you receive your MAE JIRA account you can access the latest guidelines, instructions and best practices.

For more information, see About the Mobile App Environment and Services.