Paper by Robin Carnahan, Randy Hart, and Waldo Jaquith: “Only 13% of large government software projects are successful. State IT projects, in particular, are often challenged because states lack basic knowledge about modern software development, relying on outdated procurement processes.
State governments are increasingly reliant on modern software and hardware to deliver essential services to the public, and the success of any major policy initiative depends on the success of the underlying software infrastructure. Government agencies all confront similar challenges, facing budget and staffing constraints while struggling to modernize legacy technology systems that are out-of-date, inflexible, expensive, and ineffective. Government officials and agencies often rely on the same legacy processes that led to problems in the first place.
The public deserves a government that provides the same world-class technology they get from the commercial marketplace. Trust in government depends on it.
This handbook is designed for executives, budget specialists, legislators, and other “non-technical” decision-makers who fund or oversee state government technology projects. It can help you set these projects up for success by asking the right questions, identifying the right outcomes, and equally important, empowering you with a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of modern software design.
This handbook also gives you the tools you need to start tackling related problems like:
- The need to use, maintain, and modernize legacy systems simultaneously
- Lock-in from legacy commercial arrangements
- Siloed organizations and risk-averse cultures
- Long budget cycles that don’t always match modern software design practices
- Security threats
- Hiring, staffing, and other resource constraints
This is written specifically for procurement of custom software, but it’s important to recognize that commercial off-the-shelf software (COTS) is often custom and Software as a Service (SaaS) often requires custom code. Once any customization is made, the bulk of this advice in this handbook applies to these commercial offerings. (See “Beware the customized commercial software trap” for details.)
As government leaders, we must be good stewards of public money by demanding easy-to-use, cost-effective, sustainable digital tools for use by the public and civil servants. This handbook will help you do just that….(More)”