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What is the Digital Services Playbook?

Earlier this year, the U.S. Digital Services created the Digital Services Playbook – the “what” of best practices for delivering digital solutions in the Federal government. The U.S. Digital Services is part of the Executive Branch and was created to help improve technology initiatives within the Federal Government. Why was it needed? Well, for starters […]

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November 25, 2014

Earlier this year, the U.S. Digital Services created the Digital Services Playbook – the “what” of best practices for delivering digital solutions in the Federal government. The U.S. Digital Services is part of the Executive Branch and was created to help improve technology initiatives within the Federal Government. Why was it needed? Well, for starters a 2012 McKinsey study found for IT projects with a budget of $15 million or more: 45% ran over budget, 7% ran over time, 56% delivered less value than predicted.

This document outlines 13 “plays” or best practices for the government to follow for better digital services. The emphasis is on Agile software development methods and open source technology.

So, what are these 13 plays?

Many are tenets which outline how to build better software: make it user-centered; keep it simple; create metrics and understand the goals of the system; make data-driven decisions; use a modern technology stack; and, implement engineering best practices like automated testing and automated deployments.

Other plays focus on government processes in particular: ensure the procurement office is knowledgeable in the technology area; have one owner accountable for the product; involve privacy and security teams to create repeatable processes; and, default to open source.

So, what does this mean for software teams working with the government?

1. If you partner with the government to deliver digital solutions, your organization should be familiar with the Digital Services Playbook.

2. Get familiar with Agile practices if you’re aren’t already.

3. Look for opportunities to collaborate with your government partners to provide better solutions, on time, which meet the desired needs.

What do you think of the playbook?

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