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  • Delivering Citizen-Centric Services Using Agile

    By NIC Inc. |

    Agile has swept the development realm, overtaking traditional project management models.  Agile approaches are a fundamental element of helping state and local governments achieve high quality results and speed to market of digital services that they provide their citizens. 

    NIC Inc. recently hosted a webinar to showcase how we are helping government to deliver citizen-centric services using Agile. Let’s take a deeper look at the challenges, benefits, adoption and outcomes of going completely Agile or using a hybrid model to complete any scale government IT project.

    THE CHALLENGE

    There are a lot of benefits associated with Agile, so why ​are some teams reluctant to adopt the framework? Availability of resources is a main reason, a​s well as trust. Some claim the method is a poor fit due to the strict requirements, budgets, and scope from the outset of government IT projects.

    Unfortunately, Agile is not a silver bullet that guarantees success of an IT project. I think Ben Moore, Director of Operations at NIC Wisconsin Interactive said it best, “Agile won’t solve all your problems, it simply points out where your problems are.” 

    THE BENEFIT

    The Agile framework provides exceptional visibility and strategic insight to the stakeholder from the outset and throughout the project. Being able to see and test products early in the lifecycle allows for adjustments to be made that are not possible in traditional waterfall methodology. The customer is in complete control over the product every step of the way. These things make the method an excellent fit for government projects.

    There are many benefits to the Agile approach including increased quality, greater transparency, risk mitigation, and ability to course correct to stay on-time and on-budget. Improved quality comes from continuous testing starting day one. With Agile, testing happens throughout the project not just at the end when the project is nearing completion. Testing during each sprint provides the team with the flexibility to quickly adjust as they go vs. doing a complete rework after months of development.  This type of continuous activity provides feedback early and often.  Giving the team and the customer greater insight into the project reduces the risk of going over budget or needing more time.

    GETTING STARTED & SEEING SUCCESS

    A recent survey conducted during the mid-year NASCIO conference, identified that only 59% of government IT teams are using Agile practices when implementing IT projects. 

    NIC's Wisconsin team has leveraged Agile Scrum to create high performing teams that deliver software projects of varying sizes.  The Wildcard team has delivered over 45 services in three years, with 6 people.  Operating in two-week sprints, every two weeks the team meets to discuss their plan and commit to delivering a certain amount of work.

    “In my opinion, there are two factors that are critical to successfully implementing Agile," said Ben Moore, Director of Operations at NIC's Wisconsin subsidiary, Wisconsin Interactive.  "First, the team must remain the same. Second, a single list of prioritized work should be assigned to keep projects on task, minimizing interruption from outside sources.”

    NIC’s Texas portal has implemented Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe), which is a knowledge base of proven, integrated patterns for enterprise-scale Lean-Agile development. The Texas Online Private Security (TOPS) project was delivered using this methodology.  The team integrated agency partners from the Texas Department of Public Safety with internal teams to define product increment objectives and align them to quarterly milestones. From there an architectural runway was built which enabled the delivery of all product objectives and demonstrable, fully tested working software for six consecutive quarters.

    The entire Texas.gov portfolio uses SAFe, focusing more fully on the outcomes rather than just the process. Process should be light - just enough to enable efficient work, not hinder it.

    TOPS The development world is evolving, and government doesn’t need to be left behind. The day has come where citizens are demanding a more accessible government. One way to meet this demand is through the development of digital government services that offer flexibility. The approach to building these services can make all the difference in how quickly citizens are served. 

    Want more information about agile methodology? Contact the local NIC General Manager in your state. For a complete listing, visit egov.com.


     

     

     

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