STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCY

AGILE APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT

Changing how software is procured and developed

THE CHALLENGE

As with most large organizations, US government agencies at both the federal and state level are realizing that traditional ways of building key applications for their operations are no longer working. Lengthy requirements documents, a focus on the contract rather than the deliverable and a “big design up front” mentality have led to highly visible failures, most notably Healthcare.Gov in 2013. 

To break this cycle, the state of California solicited proposals for a four week proof of concept for a child welfare portal – asking not for extensive documentation or RFP submissions, but for a real, working software prototype and open source code that could be shared, scrutinized and tested. Passing this test would be a prerequisite for future work with the state in this arena. This was a full spectrum test for our Labs capabilities, cracking the organizational problem alongside delivering high quality technical products.

What we did

WE LEARNED

WE LEARNED

We spent time learning about the challenges faced by parents with children in the foster care system through contacts in the social work space. We also assembled a panel of parents from within our San Francisco office to serve as proxies for the real end users.

WE LEVERAGED

WE LEVERAGED

Working within a tight, four week development window, we used our in-house application development framework, built on top of tried and tested open-source technologies, to get us quickly to a point where we could focus on the key needs of the user and providing robust, scalable code.

WE FOCUSED

WE FOCUSED

We narrowed in on the core functionality in the prototype to ensure it was clean, obvious and easy to use. As we went through the process, any additional ideas that were identified were logged as stories in our Agile backlog, so that they could be integrated in the future.

WE ITERATED

WE ITERATED

We went through multiple iterations of the user interface, first in mock-up, then in code, and continued to seek user feedback as we went through each sprint. This led to a number of changes, from navigational redesigns to visual re-skinning of the application, each leading to a better final product.

Impact

AN APP THAT WORKED FOR USERS AT ALL LEVELS

AN APP THAT WORKED FOR USERS AT ALL LEVELS

After code and functional review, Oliver Wyman was selected as a vendor of choice for the next stages of the child welfare application. In addition, real users were recruited and asked to complete tasks using the prototype to ensure the software was user-centric, and practical.

SETTING THE STAGE FOR GOVERNMENT TO LEAD THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

SETTING THE STAGE FOR GOVERNMENT TO LEAD THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

Our work is helping federal and state technology leap forward, moving from traditional waterfall methodologies to modular, agile and user-centered approaches. An encouraging signal as scalability and cross agency collaboration mounts.

The result was overhauling a monolithic, complex, and deeply rooted technology platform, and replacing it with better technology that can meet the needs of end users quickly and effectively.

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