Another very well attended AgileTea last Thursday at Cafe Zest! The theme of the session was 'Procure and Deliver', timely given the recent focus on Chris Chant's blog post, the Government's Supplier event on 21 November on how Government wanted to make it easier for them to do business with the Crown and ApplyCamp on 22 November, which was to discuss the Invitation To Tender for the G-cloud framework. The scale of interest in how to tender for Government business was evidenced by the 800 suppliers who attended the Supplier event and the 200 participants at the ApplyCamp (including online participants as well).
First up was Chris Parsons from the Agile Delivery Network (ADN). Chris spoke about the background to the network and their use of agile project methodology. Some of the major benefits of agile, in his view, were the ability to break down large projects into smaller manageable sprints, focussing on the outcomes and benefits. By demonstrating value incrementally rather than with a “big bang” delivery (which includes failing early and quickly), these methods reduce risk without restricting the size and scale of projects.
Chris used the example of the recent agile delivery of the e-petitions website which the ADN supported. The e-petitions project was not without issues however; securing hosting was significantly delayed meaning that once it had been allocated they only had 10 working days to deliver the service to deadline. Since it went live there have been over 6.5 million visitors and 30 million page views - producing 21,500 e-petitions and collecting 2.6 million signatures.
David Hardstaff from Eximium then gallantly stood in for his ill colleague Derrick Cameron. David talked about the role of the intelligent buyer within the procurement process and how agile was successful when the buyer understands what they need, as opposed to what they think they want, and takes into account trade-offs such as ease versus complexity, open versus secure which would add to the cost and the time it would take to deliver a project. A key lesson was to provide early success to give confidence in the ability of an agile approach to adjust the requirements flexibly to improve outcomes.
There was a good deal of debate about procurement generally and ongoing developments to accelerate procurement for Central Government and Local Government following February's Lean Review (note: PDF). Certainly a lively discussion, and one to continue at the next AgileTea camp – planned again in Cafe Zest on 19 January 2012. I am thinking of including a session on agile in procurement capability, so any nomination for speakers is welcome.
For those with questions about procurement, why not have a look at the Mystery Shopper programme, run by the Cabinet Office, which is away for suppliers to update the Government on any issues in confidence, as well as the Dynamic Marketplace where suppliers can register to supply Government.
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