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Posted by on Nov 5, 2014

GSA’s 18F Consulting to Aid in Government Adoption of Agile Project Management

agileIn the current Federal environment, there is a growing need to replace existing systems with newer, more robust systems.

Anyone familiar with Federal agency processes can certainly appreciate that this is no easy feat; there are implicit challenges when creating new systems. But, the application of Agile project management methodologies can make the process smoother and more manageable. As the need for better systems and processes has increased, Federal agencies need help implementing these projects using Agile project management.

18F, the digital delivery team at the General Services Administration, will soon launch their solution to this problem: 18F Consulting. 18F Consulting will function as an Agile development and acquisitions planning group, which will essentially act as an Agile coach to agencies across the government.

If you’re not already familiar with its story, 18F is a consulting service that GSA launched earlier this year. 18F was born when GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini and Federal CTO Todd Park were thinking about how to evolve the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. They recognized a need to agile management and software development to the government, while also creating of an innovation culture in the government through a more permanent program.

18F Consulting will help agencies to simplify the replacement of systems into smaller component deliverables that can be developed and executed based on Agile principles. As of now, this service is being tested at the Labor Department and two other agencies.

The new Agile approach requires a conversation early on with the stakeholders who approve the budget, and is built around the idea of creating a contract and then expecting change. Those contracts must allow for the room to be flexible and nimble, and allow for real agile work to occur.

18F will also soon release a dashboard with status information on its projects and other information on GitHub, a collaboration, code review, and code management tool for open source and private projects. This dashboard will allow taxpayers to receive real-time updates on current IT projects, and the success of those projects based on GSA metrics and criteria for success, which will create a high level of visibility and accountability.

With the 18F Consulting leading the way, more and more agencies will expect an Agile project management approach as the update systems and undertake major IT projects. Federal project and program managers will need to be skilled in Agile project management and how to effectively use the methodology in the Federal environment.

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