January 15, 2014

Stand by Your Agile Beds

Oh dear, another day, another Government IT fiasco. Perhaps some members of the Government would benefit from our Agile training courses (tongue firmly in cheek)!

There is always a sense of déjà vu when we hear a Government minister stand up at the despatch box and, red faced, have to explain to the baying MPs, from all sides, that yet another IT project is subject to overspend and delay.

We recently wrote a blog (Don’t Roast IDS Alive, Yet) expressing some sympathy for Iain Duncan-Smith who’s having to cope with his own IT issues. Now it’s the turn of Secretary of Defense Philip  Hammond to be pilloried for his department’s now obvious mistake in thinking that the old Army recruitment IT platform, Atlas, could somehow be bodged enough to deliver a completely new, all-singing, all-dancing recruitment tool.

How often have we heard that argument? There’s no need to start from scratch, let’s use what we’ve got (afterall, it will save us money and time). Wrong. Old software, is old software. Most legacy platforms are not up to the job, so why do most people think that they can somehow be forced into providing a new system, at a fraction of the cost?

But legacy platforms to one side, the fundamental issue is that these huge IT projects, unless handled in an extremely Agile way, are doomed to failure from the outset. There’s no doubt that the UK Government is embracing the concept of Agile with some enthusiasm, but the danger is, as we find happening in other parts of our sector, people are getting hold of Agile and trying to tame it, trying to force it into a framework which is completely not Agile at all.

If the Government really adopts the true Agile philosophy, then IT mistakes would become a thing of the past. Now, how’s that for a bold statement? Answers on a postcard please!

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