Last year I read an article in the Federal technology publication FCW that talked about the President’s 2016 spending plan and how much of the focus is on the improvement of digital services. Overall, the IT spending budget is $86.4 billion and $105 million of that is slated to expand the U.S. Digital Service, the tech IT services group that was established in 2014 and is headed by Mikey Dickerson, a Google veteran.
When President Barack Obama announced the U.S. Digital Service, he said, “I want us to ask ourselves every day, how are we using technology to make a real difference in people’s lives”. The objective of the U.S. Digital Service is to work in collaboration with other government agencies to make customer experiences on government websites better, to identify and fix IT problems, and to help upgrade the government’s technology infrastructure.
Before it came, we all knew an announcement of this sort was coming – due to the Healthcare.gov situation the previous year – and the question was whether or not a significant change could occur within the government IT infrastructure to alleviate future IT disasters from happening.
This significant change was the creation of a Digital Services Playbook, a guide from the U.S. Digital Service, which lays out best practices for effective service delivery for government agencies. The guide spells out 13 key “plays” that are helping Federal agencies deliver services that are advantageous for users and reduce the time and money to develop and operate. For example, the Digital Service at VA is already helping to transform the way technology works for veterans and their families by building, improving and simplifying infrastructure that allows veterans to access the support they need.
Though the Digital Services Playbook is a guide of IT best practices that government agencies should follow, the 13 “plays” are applicable to any software development organization in the public or private sector. These 13 “plays” also align with CollabNet’s vision for helping organizations develop quality software – on time and on budget.
U.S. Digital Services Playbook – 13 “Plays”
How These Plays Align with CollabNet’s Company Vision and Products
|1. Understand what people need||We strive to understand customer needs and offer product and services that allow developers to use the tools they want to use and stakeholders to have project visibility.|
|2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish||TeamForge helps people, processes and tools collaborate across the entire software development lifecycle.|
|3. Make it simple and intuitive||Developers can scale software development efforts across the enterprise with one simple, easy-to-use solution.|
|4. Build the service using agile and iterative practices||We continue to invest Agile transformations through consulting, training services, and continuing to strengthen Agile capabilities within TeamForge.|
|5. Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery||Insight +Intelligence = Success. The transparency of TeamForge allows stakeholders to drive smarter processes and make more informed decisions.|
|6. Assign one leader and hold that person accountable||TeamForge allows organizational wide alignment and collaboration that allows you to map your business, technology and enterprise architecture into hierarchical categories, groups and projects – and enables accountability.|
|7. Bring in experienced teams||Gain organizational insight of data from different developer teams using a rich set of contextual TeamForge dashboards.|
|8. Choose a modern technology stack||We help customers build modern technology stacks by integrating open source, commercial and home-grown tools for maximum integration.|
|9. Deploy in a flexible hosting environment||We offer products to meet every customer’s hosting environment needs, whether it is on-premise, in the cloud or a hybrid solution|
|10. Automate testing and deployments||TeamForge pulls disparate automated tool activity and functions into the overall Application Lifecycle Management process, enabling a centralized view of test and status results.|
|11. Manage security and privacy through reusable processes||TeamForge provides the foundation for global enterprise reuse of code and processes|
|12. Use data to drive decisions||Our solution enables executives and workgroups track development through deployment across projects, releases and tools. With this data they are able to make informed business decisions.|
|13. Default to open||We strongly support the use of open source tools such as Git and Subversion for the myriad advantages they provide to both developers and stakeholders.|
In 2015, federal agencies showed more of an inclination towards the innovation expected of the private sector. As his first project, Dickerson implemented a complete overhaul of HealthCare.gov, such as by installing monitoring practices on the production system and creating a culture of collaboration among the team. He’s identified dozens of other projects like this within the public sector, and his team has already been making strides.
Time will tell if the U.S. Digital Services Playbook will bring about the significant positive impact that is needed in the government, but the results are already promising. Several forecasts, including Booz Allen Hamilton’s Systems Delivery Group predictions for public-sector tech in 2016, are already predicting that Agile and DevOps practices will significantly impact government IT this year. But as we wait to see how the guidelines will affect other government practices next year, the Playbook is a good document to review and compare how your software organization’s best practices align with the Playbook’s 13 “plays.” And if you don’t have a list of your best IT practices, this could be a great opportunity to begin one.
What are your thoughts about the Digital Services Playbook? Do they apply to your organization? Why or why not?