There is a concern that the lack of technical skills inside most federal IT shops will not only keep agencies from being able to create their own digital service products, but also hamper their ability to monitor and judge the work of IT contractors.
According to Steve Kelman’s column in FCW, agile methods may help address this problem because:
- Agile milestones are small and divided into sprints, which aids government in learning as they go
- Individual work products are less complex and easier to evaluate, even for non-technical staff
- Agile requires the delivery of working software early (not “percentage complete” estimates as in waterfall)
From the article:
Agile is not a magic bullet solution, of course. Even if individual deliverables from a contractor work and thus “pass,” the less-technical civil servant can’t figure out how good the architecture is. (Will it scale? Is it an efficient use of resources?) To answer such questions, the government may need specialized in-house skills or an independent verification and validation contractor. But agile allows the government to get a fair bit down the contract management road even with limited technical skills, and to economize on the need for not-always-present IT technical skills. It is a way out for what otherwise might be a very difficult dilemma for government.
Read the full article: Is agile the answer to government’s IT skills deficit? | FCW