A Secretary of State talks about agile

By Tony Collins

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, told MPs about agile at a hearing of the Work and Pensions Committee this week on Univeral Credit.

He told the Committee:

“The thing about the agile process which I find frustrating at times, because we cannot quite get across to people, is that agile is about change. It is about allowing you to get to a certain point in the process, check it out, make sure it works, come up with something you can  rectify, and make it more efficient.

” So you are constantly rolling forward, proving, and making more efficient.”

He was answering concerns that the IT for Universal Credit may not work. Tomorrow the Department for Work and Pensions starts a publicity campaign on Universal Credit. Part of it will focus on how agile enables the UC project to adapt to change.

Agile does work in government – GDS

Agile will fail in Government IT  – corporate lawyer

Agile can fix failed GovIT says lawyer

PR campaign on Universal Credit starts tomorrow (20 September 2012).

2 responses to “A Secretary of State talks about agile

  1. Anonymous Coward

    Is UC really employing agile techniques or just cowboy coding dressed up as agile? I think a lot of people working on the programme would agree the lack of anything written down suggests the latter.


  2. Good heavens I agree with IDS!

    I was pleasantly surprised to read the above comments, I then went off and read the articles that TC had provided as links. I then noted the dates of said articles and the number of responses they had generated and the general tone of said responses.

    I have always maintained that Agile is not a panacea and that it does appear to have been jumped on as the proverbial current bandwagon of choice when it comes to public sector IT.

    IDS comments that “agile is about change”, this is right on the money. The problem will be that the commissioners of new IT systems rarely take this into account. New IT systems, as part of their design process, require the identification of existing real world processes and if necessary the real world changes to those processes. Invariably this is not what happens and is probably the main reason for implementation failure, NPfIT being a classic example. In Mark Ballard’s article from ComputerWeekly in which lawyer Alistair Maughan tells us why Agile is not suited for Gov Projects he sites a s part of his reasoning “As if that isn’t problem enough, Agile offers insufficient means of remedy if things go wrong.”, all well and good, ad again siting NPfIT as an example how many of the non Agile projects / suppliers were brought to book in relation to their non delivery?

    I think the main problem is fear of change and fear of accountability it is completely reasonable to behave in a way which we behaved before, ticked all the right boxes and have a project fail at vast cost to the public purse and then say oh well next time… or is it?


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