Category Archives: software licensing

Lessons from a government agile success

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?

What we’ve learnt about scaling agile – Government Digital Service

Agile can fix failed GovIT says lawyer


SME company gains 395 new customers despite a challenging marketplace

Campaign4Change spent some time this week talking with Scott Haddow, chief executive of York-based value added reseller Trustmarque Solutions, which through its Enterprise Solutions Group (TESG) is helping its customers reduce their IT expenditure costs.

Trustmarque’s approach has been so successful, that in the last year it gained 395 new public and private sector clients.

Over the past eighteen months, Trustmarque has successfully transitioned from Large Account Reseller (LAR) to Value Added Reseller (VAR) status, moving away from a high volume, low margin business where there is no direct relationship with the customer.

Its success has had a significant impact on the bottom line.  In the first nine months of its 2010/2011 financial year, Trustmarque increased its Gross Profit by 28 percent, with TESG doubling its associated turnover from consulting, managed services and software solutions.   That continued growth also means Trustmarque currently has 20 open vacancies in Sales, IT, Finance and Operations which it needs to fill by the start of its next financial year in September.

The public sector may be wary of cloud computing, for now, but the private sector happily sees the potential in adopting it, which is perhaps why Trustmarque bought cloud infrastructure and hosted services provider Nimbus Technology Systems  to provide it with more breadth and depth of expertise in cloud services delivery as well as an expanded portfolio of managed cloud services. 

What we also learned from speaking with Haddow is that many of the company’s NHS Trust customers are very forward thinking in their approach to IT. In a sector that may not have been known for competition, it is clear that some want to be at the leading edge and are prepared to use whatever technology solutions they can to gain a competitive advantage. Just like the private sector, there are  trusts that are happier being front-runners and who’ll actively seek to use technology to keep their edge.

We also learned how Trustmarque sits down with new customers for lengthy meetings to thrash out where they can make savings, through consolidation of IT assets, and especially by reducing their software licensing costs. For example, Durham Constabulary is saving £190,000 in licensing costs over three years; Derbyshire Fire and Rescue will save £88,000 in licensing costs over six years; Transport for Greater Manchester will also save £60,000 a year on licensing costs; and Plymouth City Council will see savings of £494,000 over a 3 year period and a 26% reduction in its previous licensing arrangement.

It’s clear that even though the Coalition has aspirations to open up more business for SMEs, success-stories like Trustmarque don’t need to rely on those plans to gain a healthy slice of government business: they’re doing it for themselves.