Bettering the Lives of Citizens, One Tech Solution at a Time

Sep 19, 2017 12:30 PM ET

It’s critical to Americans’ well-being that government services are fast and reliable. We need tax returns filed and processed within minutes; automatic renewal of forms of ID; and immediate care if we get sick. To keep essential government services operating at top efficiency, there is an urgent need to rethink the processes and methods which occur behind the scenes, and ensure better public service for taxpayers.

Technology is the natural solution. But how can the government apply what’s working in the commercial sector for the benefit of citizens?

Meet Jeff Feller, the problem solver at Booz Allen Hamilton who’s working to bring cutting edge digital solutions to government services. Jeff proposes a scaled agile approach—a solution that allows organizations to look at their IT systems from a software development standpoint, bringing efficiencies to large-scale projects. By employing scaled agile, citizens have better access to services such as paying taxes and voting or reducing delays veterans experience in receiving benefits. Read below to see Jeff’s top 5 myths of scaling agile and what it takes to make this a reality for the government:

Myth No. 1: I’ll have to hire more people. 
You already have the people you need. At many organizations, developers and other technical experts tend to work in functional silos. Scaling agile merely takes them out of those silos, and assigns them to individual cross-functional teams. This helps individuals collaborate more, and stay focused on the organization’s larger goals.  

Myth No. 2: I’ll need a big reorganization. 
RealitySelf-organized agile teams are independent in that they control their own workflows. While the growth of individuals should still be conducted by the people best suited to mentor and develop them; functional management doesn’t have to change. What does change is that managers no longer must spend a large portion of their time on tasking. They also don’t need to evaluate the progress of the project—testers on the team take over that role. In other words, managers are freed up to better manage their people, rather than the project.

Myth No. 3: The implementation will disrupt our delivery cycles. 
RealityYou don’t have to shut down—or even slow down—to smoothly implement agile at scale. While you do have to take time to readjust, with the right planning you can work the training and cadence shift into your regular cycles. Implementation is gradual, and closely tailored to project schedules, so there’s minimal disruption. There’s also constant support—initially from the outside, as agile is scaled—but then from your own people, as they gain expertise. You’re never left high and dry.

Myth No. 4: The PMO will no longer have a way to measure earned value. 
RealityEarned value is fundamentally about tracking what gets done. Nothing could be more congruent with agile! With agile at scale, we’re bringing a level of transparency and accountability to the whole enterprise, and we can keep tracking earned value for our technical delivery.

Myth No. 5: Agile at scale won’t stick in our organization. 
Unlike many other initiatives, agile at scale sticks because it gives people what they really want—more of a voice in the work they’re doing. Instead of tasks being assigned to them from the top, developers and others play an active role in planning and decision making. Experience has shown that with this newfound responsibility, people become actively engaged in scaled agile. In a way, it’s what they’ve been waiting for.

Through scaled agile, Jeff envisions a world where citizens have on-demand, 24/7 access to government services to lead better, more productive and meaningful lives.

Want to learn how scaled agile can improve the lives of digital citizens?  Read the full report here: 5 Myths of Scaling Agile in Government