After AustinTexas.gov’s launch in January, the AustinGO team made a commitment to build on a successful start by continually incorporating new tools and features to the site for the benefit of our visitors. We pledged that we wouldn’t just stand the site up and walk away, but would create a resource that paralleled the dynamism of interactive media across web, social and data/mobile.
Through the first half of 2012, our biggest asset has been the Austin public, who have stayed engaged and shared hundreds of different ideas for improvements or new features. While we can’t implement all the suggestions, we do want to identify the areas where our community speaks with one voice in regards to a need, change or new functionality.
We want to move forward with the community’s big ideas in the most efficient way we can, and at the same time we want to improve our own skills and efficiencies as a team. To do this, we’ve embraced some new methodologies in our improvement schedule, much as we did during the six-month implementation period in 2011
Currently, we’re using a hybrid Agile methodology on our development projects. This is a unique thing for the City's IT shop, which has traditionally employed PMI methodology for most enterprise projects. We feel a mix including the best of Agile and PMI has given us the opportunity to be flexible and responsive to the public’s diverse mix of ideas, but also keep in line with our established IT procedures.
Since launch, we’ve employed software development sprint cycles to address site enhancements, upgrades and fixes. While not traditional sprints (we schedule eight weeks vs. the more traditional two or four weeks), we do utilize the same tactics of attacking a specific set of tasks within a strictly defined period of time, meeting for daily scrums and maintaining a backlog of requirements.
The key principle we employ is the flexibility that the sprint process brings, allowing the development team to respond as unpredicted changes or challenges arise.
Next time, we’ll share an overview of the different improvements we’ve made to AustinTexas.gov since launch. Until then, if you want to read about another government’s experience with small “a” agile development, check out this post from Great Britain’s Government Digital Service.
Please don’t hesitate to share your ideas with us, either in the comment section below or at our online feedback form. Who knows? Maybe your idea will be the next one we try to add to AustinTexas.gov.