GSA releases 'de-risking' handbook for state technology projects
Published: August 08, 2019
The new guide is designed to help non-technical officials grasp and use modern software-development best practices.
A new handbook released this week by 18F, a civic innovation office within the General Services Administration, aims to help state government officials with a series of best practices for managing technology projects. The guide was created with non-technical decision makers who often oversee technology procurement in mind, and aims to increase the success rate of large government IT projects.
In the report, the authors explain what they see as the six basic tenets of modern software design: user-centered design, agile software development, product ownership, DevOps, building with loosely coupled parts, and modular contracting. It also includes a list of best practices for project management that budget officials can follow. This includes setting expectations for human outcomes, as well as technical elements. It also advises that request for proposals should include quality assurance check-ins and regular software demonstrations, rather than just progress memos.
The handbook also addresses some common areas for pitfalls, such as budgeting for a one-time expenditure and neglecting maintenance costs, or acquiring a new legacy system to replace an old one, instead of building incrementally with smaller, lower-cost contracts. Additionally, it recommends states expand their vendor pools to include new, lesser-known software vendors that may have experience with agile development.
The recommendations included in this handbook offers insights into potential changes in the procurement and management of state government IT projects. Interested vendors, both large, established companies and smaller scale, younger vendors may find these points useful as they consider what strategies and approaches their state government clients could employ in the future.