AGL Discuss Recap: Coaching acquisition officers on better procuring Agile

Last month we asked members of the AGL group on LinkedIn if they had examples or tips on coaching acquisition officers on better procuring Agile.

We got some thoughtful responses that included the bullet points below:

  • Be prepared to provide a strong product owner who knows what they want and can set priorities.
  • You can buy “sprints” worth of labor instead of buying functionality.
  • Demand “spikes” that prove out functionality early in order to mitigate risk.
  • Demand one-button deployment with an automated script in order to prevent operational vendor lock-in.
  • Use open-source to lower long-term maintenance costs.
  • It is NOT your job to get the best value for your agency: it is your job to get the teams that produce the most value (per dollar) for your agency. Big difference.
  • Don’t think of it as procuring software. You are procuring expertise.
  • Don’t think that you can pin down the software requirements – you can’t.
  • Don’t think that you can pin down the cost – you can’t.
  • The best work comes from a partnership between your agency and the vendor. Effective partnerships must be win-wins. You cannot have a situation where your agency wins at the vendor’s expense: that does not work for Agile software development because it kills the partnership.
  • Flexibility is key to protecting your agency. Instead of thinking in terms of being able to take the vendor to court if they don’t perform, think in terms of your agency being able to not renew the vendor and switch to another vendor. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that the agency does not become locked into the vendor. Think in terms of work process clauses and deliverables that prevent lock-in.
  • Don’t try to define performance too precisely. An effective partnership is made or broken based on very subjective things. Enable your agency to terminate vendors without having to justify it. Make contracts renewal based, with short periods of performance for each renewal.
  • Understand that when you buy Agile, you are acquiring effort in support of functionality. You are not buying a product. The acquisition of effort necessitates a time and materials or labor hour contract, which I believe is how Agile is typically purchased in the commercial sector.

This conversation is just getting started – we look forward to hearing more! Join the conversation here.

2017-04-23T23:03:00-08:00 February 2nd, 2015|Categories: Agile government, AGL Discuss|Tags: , |

About the Author:

Elizabeth Raley is director of professional services at CivicActions and member of the Agile Government Leadership steering committee. Connect on LinkedIn.

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