SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, Dana Gardner, Kevin Benedict

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Agile Cloud … for Government

Our next upcoming webinar introduces our headline best practice program ‘Agile Cloud‘.

This refers to combining Agile practices with Cloud systems, for purposes of enhancing both the speed and quality of your application engineering work.

To help organizations achieve these benefits a critical part of Agile Cloud is that it is not limited only to technology, although naturally that acts as an enabling and essential foundation.

Other key areas include organizational dynamics and culture, as sometimes it is in these areas that act as the inhibitors to faster and smarter ways of working.

Increasing Business Value Throughput (BVT)

So to provide one quick example before we dive into our ongoing series about the technical elements, we can best explain it by tailoring it for scenarios like Government.

For example one part of their IT process is the RFP funeral march where they publish their required procurements to sites lke MERX, a sequence of gathering user requirements, writing the RFP, publishing it and reviewing vendor responses, bid selection and implementation. Each one takes many months and such it adds up to years to implement.

Often this drives procurement of one big ‘COTS’ (Commercial Off The Shelf system) like an SAP-based application for Social Welfare payments, which is one big solution in one step.

The key aspect this highlights is that this means that from the point of identifying the customer need, the start of the requirements analysis, to the end point of a system being delivered to meet these needs, can be a timescale quantified in years.

Even by Vogon standards this would be considered a bit sluggish and to help understand where and how to make improvements we can quantify this in terms of “Business Value Throughput“.

In short meeting the needs of the documented users is the function of providing “Business Value” and how much is being delivered on a daily basis is the flow of it that can be measured.

With the RFP process as described it means that for a long period of time there’s absolutely zero, and then lots all at once, as the new systems is turned on for the first time. This is assuming a perfect world for a moment, where it works first time with no problems. Even then it’s meant that there has been zero BVT for many months and years.

What further makes this situation worse is that of course we’re not in a perfect world, and one symptom of these projects is they experience high failure rates because, you guessed it, the project’s are too large. Ultimately very little BVT is achieved until very late in the project cycle.

Agile, in a nutshell, is therefore the systems implementation model that is based on “eating the elephant” by working instead at the level of lots of small chunks, the primary benefit of which is that you can sustain smaller volumes of more immediate and regular Business Value on an ongoing basis, thereby increasing your BVT factor.

This is achieved through increasing the frequency of Release Events.

In the case of the SAP implementation this means that in essence there is just one Release Event in a number of years.

In contrast Agile is about increasing this throughput rate so that more modular, faster frequency deliverables are made possible.

This requires changes to procurement process as well as IT procedures, so to successfully embrace Agile mindsets organizations like Government need to be embrace organizational transformation as much as new software tools.

We’ll be explaining how on the webinar and through follow on activities.


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