By Mary McKnight, ImageSoft, Director of Professional Services
In a recent Government CIO Outlook magazine article, “IT Transformation at EPA,” Ann Dunkin, CIO, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, writes about the evolution that the EPA has undergone to find a way to deliver solutions faster and better. She’s right that most government agencies as well as the private sector follow a “classic waterfall” implementation methodology and she’s right about the danger that comes with using outdated methods like over analysis and trying to avoid risk at all costs. This works just fine for construction or manufacturing when the foundation must be poured at the right grade before the studs are erected. Without this level of planning, your house will fall over. Data is not concrete and there is a better approach to developing software solutions.
At ImageSoft, we’ve done the traditional waterfall approach. It can work, but in our 20-year history, we’ve found something that works better. We call it The ImageSoft Way and it embodies many of the key concepts Dunkin highlights in her article. We, too, seek to deliver off-the-shelf solutions (COTS) wherever possible. We work with a highly configurable software and you are relying on us to be the subject matter experts. Providing solutions that work in the wild expedites delivery and lets you earn your ROI much faster.
A major reason for failure in government IT projects is lack of user input, according to Dunkin. Successful systems are designed around the needs of individuals who use the system every day—not around the needs of stakeholders, she adds.
We, too, start with the business process. We work with you to understand why you do what you do and then provide a document written in your business language describing how the solution will support it. We, too, embrace risk. We demonstrate the solution to your users at regular intervals throughout the entire build phase. By showing you the solution early and often, we prove out the high-risk items like integration and web service development before the budget is spent. When you expose risk, you limit it.
Finally, ImageSoft also embraces collaboration across our company. We tore down our silos and threw them into the waterfall and we have not looked back. We’ve developed some strong change management practices along the way and can help you do the same.
I agree with one more thing Dunkin says, “All of this is certainly a work in progress…when it does work, amazing things happen.” The best part about the ImageSoft Way is that we have amazing success stories out there to back it up. Agile development in government might be a fresh concept but partnering with a company that has the right culture and experience has always been the best way to achieve success.
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