Agile Thinking

Is Agile the Answer to the Government’s IT Skills Deficit?

Skilled, ambitious IT workers aspire to work in a dynamic, challenging setting like Google. They seldom rub their hands together at the prospect of working for the government. As a result, government IT skills can be lackluster at times. In a quick article for FCW, Steve Kelman muses over whether agile might be able to shake up the status quo and empower government IT to take greater control of its operations.

More Understanding with Less Challenge

The government frequently outsources its IT needs, and that is fine. What is not fine is when government IT employees do not even have the skills to properly monitor the work that contractors are producing. Kelman thinks agile and its associated processes can however help even the less technical people to better evaluate contractor deliverables. He explains his position by pointing out the ways that receiving agile deliverables differs from receiving waterfall milestone deliverables:

The first is that there are many more [deliverables], connected with the many sprints into which an agile project is divided. This makes it easier for the government itself to learn by doing over time, and get better at judging agile work product.

Second, the individual work products are less complex and therefore easier to evaluate. Often the test for evaluating a work product is as simple as observing whether the incremental functionality actually works as promised. The government person will often be able to make this judgment as a user, even without technical skills. In evaluating deliverables the government is focused on whether a feature works, not whether it is properly architected or elegantly coded.

Kelman concedes that the government will still require in-house specialists to determine if the underlying architecture of deliverables is scalable. Still, it is a better set of circumstances than IT started with.

For additional thoughts, you can view the original article here:

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