10th March 2011. Government IT offers many challenges but, it seems, few solutions that satisfy everyone.This UK report analyses the problems of “failed project delivery” and recommends solutions, focussing on “agile” concepts.
There is a well-documented history of too many high-profile and costly failures. This is rarely the fault of the underpinning technology: policy complexity, late additions to already-long lists of requirements; inadequate change management processes; and a failure to bring users fully in to the picture, all play their part. As with many organisations, there remains a critical dependence on legacy systems for large transaction processing, with the consequent need to deal with interoperability between systems.
Meanwhile, as this report brings out, the possibilities IT offers for wholly transforming people’s lives increase exponentially with each passing year.
1. Think in terms of platform and agile
The platform must standardise and simplify core elements of government IT. For any elements of IT outside the platform, new opportunities should be explored using agile principles. These twin approaches should be mutually reinforcing: the platform frees up resource to focus on new opportunities while successful agile innovations are rapidly scaled up when incorporated into the platform.
2. Use the platform to drive efficiencies but keep delivery decentralised
The platform must manage the well-established elements of government IT by: bearing down on the cost of commodity items; reducing duplication of services and infrastructure; and setting common standards to support interoperability across the system. The centre will need to manage certain aspects of the platform (strategy, policy, common standards and benchmarking in particular) but delivery should reflect and build on the capacity and capability distributed across the system.
3. Support and foster agile principles
By adopting an agile approach to IT projects, government can radically improve outcomes on IT projects. Projects can be delivered more cheaply and rapidly while also delivering better solutions.