The WhiteHouse has recently published the U.S. Digital Services Playbook: http://playbook.cio.gov/
Which outlines ‘plays’ that revolve around agile methodologies. Many stating directly: use agile!
They also have the TechFAR handbook which dives into more technical approaches that revolve around agile and some of the technical excellence methodologies: http://playbook.cio.gov/techfar/
Check these resources out!
In 2012 the FBI released a Press Release that announces their deployment of the Sentinal project. Lots of information was left out that outlines their $400+ million dollar project that turned from failure to success with the switch to agile!
Related News Articles:
- How the FBI Proves Agile Works for Government Agencies – cio.com
- FBI’s Sentinel Project: 5 Lessons Learned – Information Week
- Case Study of a Difficult Federal Government Scrum Project: FBI Sentinel – Collab.net
These articles do a great job of outlining how this project proves agile works not just for small/skunk-work projects, but for some of the biggest projects to achieve success and build the right product. Some awesome conclusions are cited from the above articles by government leadership as to why the project started to succeed after the transition to agile:
- It was clear when a feature was actually done and what done means as opposed to work was applied.
- The process was transparent and progress was very clear so that planning could adapt with the reality of the project.
- Agile development was faster and cheaper.
Texas Education Agency (TEA) core technology program manager, Martha Reesing, stated “By the time the product was being implemented, the requirements were stale and had already changed…” This sparked the TEA to looking for better process solutions which lead them to implementing scrum. It was observed “When customers see how software is shaping up, they refine their ideas. If we go against human nature, we actually increase the risk.”
The success of agile within the TEA project as well as the Douglas County CO sex offender management system has lead Douglas County’s CIO to start implementing a full scale migration to agile.
Read the full story at Government Technology here
The Department of Homeland Security has been adopting agile and is sharing their experiences. They have identified some core changes that are critical to their success: testing integrated during a sprint and not at the end, iterative progress and not chunks of features delivered after years, and integrating users with developers to ensure they are building the right product.
Texas DPS and texas.gov completed an eight-month project to create a new vehicle inspection service in record time and cheaper than ever by utilizing agile development. The system they were replacing took 18 months to develop and that was not an option for them this time around.
Texas DPS and texas.gov had to work together to deliver a usable system and they had always worked with variants of waterfall methodologies. For this project they had “three teams of 10 employees met every two weeks to discuss what they had developed and make adjustments to keep the project on course, rather than waiting until the end, hoping that everything turned out right. ” They found the limited success of up front requirements gathering and the need for collaboration that agile was the obvious choice. Texas.gov had experience using agile on internal projects but this was their first agile project done in collaboration with another agency. They found agile to excel and empower this collaboration.
Other awesome conclusions that Texas DPS discovered included the team feeling an increased sense of engagement and reward as well as being more innovative than ever.
Read the full article here.
Outlined in this Projects@Work paper is another real world story of a large government project, managing census operations paper forms, that started to fail but succeeded in time and under budget by switching to agile.
The 6 page paper highlights how this Census Bureau project was slated to cost $350 million and was accomplished in $50 million.
The project manages 52% of the census data that is not responded to by mail and requires manual effort by the operations. The team implementing the management system was up to “110 folks.” This was a back and forth process while contractors experienced in agile worked with teams who had little to no background in agile at all.
One of the great outcomes of this project is not only a successful, working system, but the knowledge and expertise transferred from an experienced group to existing management teams that will be able to apply this experience elsewhere. “This program taught the staff we
were working with at the Census Bureau that they could add agility to some of their processes…” Half the battle is experiencing agile’s success and this helps spread good practices throughout the government.
Read the full paper here.
The government launched healthcare.gov site has been scrutinized in every way since it’s launch. Healthcare.gov is one of the most unique launches in history in that it was a new site, solving a new problem that has a realistic user base of the entire population of the United States all likely to visit on launch day. This is an unheard of launch for a web system. User base didn’t grow over years, it was instantaneous.
Due to the high profile nature of this site, the process which lead to it’s unsuccessful launch has been reflected on by the government, industry experts and the community at large. Read some of these articles that articulate how agile methodologies could have discovered and resolved many of these issues.
- Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls: A More Agile Healthcare.gov – The New Yorker
- The way government does tech is outdated and risky – Washington Post
- Where Did HealthCare.gov Go Wrong? Let’s Start with “Everywhere” – Smartbear
- 6 Software Development Lessons From Healthcare.gov’s Failed Launch – Computer World