An Agile vendor team cannot be successful unless the agency has prepared for them.
Category Archives: Tech
“Customized COTS” is the worst of both.
It’s a tar pit, a way to pay for extensive renovations to software that you do not own, and now feel that you cannot leave, because the sunk cost fallacy is real.
Why governors put this over here, with the rest of the fire.
When presented with a disastrous, multi-year, failing, mission-critical software project, a governor will double down on the failing strategy. Here’s why.
An Excel error caused a $202 million state budget shortfall.
Excel shouldn’t serve as load-bearing infrastructure. Its files can’t be diffed, version controlled, or tested. Virginia’s failure shows the cost of doing so.
Major government software procurements fail at a high rate. There are a lot of methods of reducing the odds of failure, but how do you know if that’s necessary? Developers talk about “code smells”—small things that are off in ways that indicate that there may be larger problems. So, too, are there procurement smells—the little …
The disconnect between software development and government contracting.
There’s a big disconnect between modern software development practices and government contracting. It can seem intractable, but there is a solution. It’s the job of contracting officers to get government the best value for their money. That means being sure that they’ll get precisely what they need, within budget and on time. Normally, the best …
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Never contract for story points.
When contracting for Agile software development services, sometimes contracting officers make “story points” the thing that they’re buying. This is an enormous mistake, on a couple of levels, and nobody should ever do it. Let’s talk about why. First, let’s define “story points.” Agile development teams need to figure out what they’re going to work …
Reduce bids by reducing uncertainty.
When government agencies procure custom software, the price tag is often driven up because the agencies are unwilling or unable to reduce the complexity prior to beginning the acquisition process. The complexity and associated uncertainty is obvious to vendors, so when asked to provide a firm fixed price bid, they’re going to price it for …
Government should procure custom software as open source.
Government software becomes vastly better when it’s procured as open source. Normally, government buys closed-source custom software. Government never looks at the source code. The public can’t inspect it. Is it any good? No, it is not. There is no incentive to make it good. In fact, there’s a perverse incentive: hard to maintain means …
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Make sure your UI modernization plan includes an open source clause.
Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs this year. Overall, over 35 million people have made unemployment benefit claims since the crisis began. State unemployment systems are crumbling under the load, and they’re desperate to modernize. The CARES Act, passed March 27th, expands benefits for those who lost work due to the pandemic, …
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