Agile in Government

Despite my last blog on some well publicised troubles, agile is still firmly central to the UK government’s digital strategy (incidentally this appears to be true over the pond in the USA). This topic was explored on Friday morning at agile on the beach.

Mark Craddock provided a very useful description of the G Cloud and the Digital Services Framework. The former is really a catalogue of service providers used by government departments (and other public sector organisations including schools) to procure services. The latter is an attempt to create a ‘shortlist’ of agile capable suppliers.

Organisations can register themselves on G Cloud and offer IaaS, PaaS, SaaS or (perhaps most usefully) ‘cloud specialist services’ with associated day rates and pricing models. However once this is committed to the store it cannot be changed (at least until the next 6 month cycle). Interestingly, it is possible – indeed encouraged – to partner with others; for example, memset, which is an accredited provider. The submission deadline for this is 23 September 2013

As far as I can tell, the purchasers of G Cloud services use the catalogue as an initial screen to identify a shortlist of providers to contact. In other words, there is not a blind ‘just choose the cheapest’ selection process.

The cloud store was itself developed using agile techniques (and open source platforms) in only 8 weeks!

The digital services framework specifically mentions ‘agile’ suppliers (although the deadline for applications is now passed: 7 August 2013). The framework is looking to identify a number (someone told me n=50 though this is not obvious from the web page) suppliers, either SMEs or ‘agile practices’ in tier 1 suppliers, with proven agile capabilities. There is quite a lot of detail about the expected agile practice with a service manual and, usefully, some detail about the supported contracts (including capped T&M).

Both initiatives have top level support through the government’s digital strategy – and in fact the goal is to spend 25%, perhaps going up to 50% (p16-17 of this report) on SMEs. The Government has a Digital Strategy which includes agile principles and open source; Francis Maude (Minister for Cabinet Office) describing the strategy as “agile, flexible and digital by default

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