By Tony Collins
Some central government departments spend a great deal with large suppliers on the development and maintenance of their websites (more on this in a separate post). They could save millions of pounds if they followed the example of the Government Digital Service (and were not locked into mega-outsourcing contracts that include website development).
Agile teams within the GDS are responsible for GOV.UK, which largely replaces Directgov and offers a one-stop site for government services and information.
Simple, clear, fast
The guiding principles for GDS’s agile teams were “simple, clear, fast”. Lessons from the open-source project are on the GDS website. These are some of them:
“When things get tough and you want to go back to old ways, go more agile, not less”.
Less is more (a rare attribute for a government IT project).
Use independently-verifiable data to track your programme
Agile can work at scale. “We’ve embraced it culturally and organisationally…”
The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said:
“In stark contrast to the way IT has been delivered in government in the past, GOV.UK can rapidly accommodate new standards for development and security, catering to emerging technologies and user requirements quickly and effectively. It has been built the way Amazon built Amazon, and in the way that BA transformed their online business, by being agile, iterative and focused on users.
“GOV.UK has also been built using open source technology, which means we don’t have to pay expensive software licensing costs.”
A good result for the Government Digital Service. Will others in central government follow?