Agile Ops as a Path to Modernization

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

The word “agile” is everywhere now, describing everything from cloud technology to team dynamics. Beginning as an innovative method of software development, agile has expanded to describe projects, solutions, teams and workflows.

As government agencies look to update legacy systems, there is an increasing recognition that modernization encompasses not only updates in technology, but also improvements in how projects are developed and delivered. Here are examples of how federal agencies are applying the agile concept and how technology vendors can insert themselves in upcoming opportunities.

In the world of government IT, agile refers to a software development or project management method which aims to be faster, more customer-centric and more responsive to sudden changes than traditional methods. (If you want to further explore the basic premise of “agile,” GSA has published a comprehensive set of FAQs.) What is most noteworthy about the presence of agile development in government IT is that it represents a significant change in mindset. The government is realizing that efficiency, responsiveness and scalability are often the best ways to stay on top of rapid technological changes.

Several federal agencies have written or are writing agile ops into their requirements. For example, TSA is gearing up to release an official solicitation in August for a 7-year BPA dedicated to agile development methods, nicknamed FAST. The BPA focuses on modernizing legacy systems through continuous and consistent solution delivery. Vendors should focus on how to facilitate the transition, as well as how to provide support throughout the solution development lifecycle.

Agencies are also incorporating agile ops into their technology strategies. At HHS, CMS laid out its own strategy for agile development in 2017, deeming it crucial for quality project delivery. The guidelines emphasize customer satisfaction and transparent decision-making. Emphasizing your specific approach for project management or offering project management tools that will facilitate agile ops could help you stand out from the pack at CMS.

The government is also using agile ops to explore innovative ways of solving problems. A notable example is The Opportunity Project established by the Census Bureau, which brings together IT specialists from different sectors to utilize agile development to build data management tools for a variety of government agencies. The broad nature of this opportunity means there are multiple points of insertion. Involve your technical team early in projects which can showcase the strengths of your solution.

If you’re a vendor and the word “agile” has caught your eye in an RFQ, you’ll first want to understand the context. In addition to hiring vendors for agile development projects, agencies are also seeking tools and professional coaching to develop their own internal agile capabilities. If you are looking at training opportunities, consider what specific agile methods you have experience in, such as scrum. In terms of products, workflow management software and cloud-based solutions are a natural fit.

As federal agencies face increasing pressure to modernize, the development of adaptable, user-friendly and efficient systems is critical to success. Focusing on how your service or solution facilitates teamwork and delivers a great user experience will help agencies tackle their modernization goals.

 

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The 6th Annual Government IT Sales Summit will be taking place in Reston, Virginia on November 21. Details here.

About Jessica Parks
Jessica Parks is an analyst with the Market Intelligence team at immixGroup, providing actionable analysis to help technology suppliers shorten their sales cycles. She holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. in political science from UNC Chapel Hill.

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