By Tony Collins
The National Audit Office says in a report published today that Defra’s agile plan which involves outsourcing to multiple IT suppliers has “significant” risks.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs plans to implement a single integrated £80m Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) system built on agile methodologies.
Defra has been working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) to plan an agile implementation and learn from the lessons of the past, the department’s chief operating officer Ian Trenholm told Computer Weekly in January 2013.
Today’s NAO report on Defra’s 2012/13 accounts says that the department is planning the procurement, development and implementation of new systems in line with changes to the way the common agricultural policy operates.
“Development and implementation of these [new systems] will present a number of challenges, including the requirement that data cleansing is completed on time, in order to ensure that accurate and complete data is transferred to the new systems,” says the NAO.
It adds that the IT element of the change programme “will be delivered through an agile approach which involves outsourcing to multiple IT providers”. The NAO says that Defra has recognised a number of significant risks relating to the Programme. “It will need a strong relationship between the Programme team and other important stakeholders, and appropriate governance arrangements, to ensure that these risks are adequately managed and that the Department learns the lessons from the implementation of CAP 2005.”
Defra and its Rural Payments Agency had a disaster with the Single Payment Scheme which was built on conventional lines through one main supplier. If there are risks with the new agile approach involving multiple suppliers they cannot be as great as spending hundreds of millions of pounds with one company; and working through those new agile-related risks may help other departments find a different and much cheaper way of buying IT, and implementing important policy-related business change.