Agile work, the concept of creating an organization in the digital age.

Nowadays, in the digital era that has changed exponentially. With new challenges and crises, people have new needs and expectations, forcing all sectors to adapt and respond quickly.
whether it is easy to access convenience and speed or working processes in a new way Therefore, it is the origin of the concept of Agile working, working with flexibility, agility, agility, hereby giving an example of the US government sector. that has applied the concept of Agile work


“If there’s one thing government needs desperately, it’s the ability to quickly try something, pivot when necessary, and build complex systems by starting with simple systems that work and evolve from there, not the other way around.” —Jennifer Pahlka, Founder, Code for America, Former U.S. Deputy CTO 2012 [1]



From the words of Jennifer Pahlka, it can be seen that it works very quickly. It can be adjusted and developed as what the government should do. A familiar style of working is the waterfall model, or hierarchical work. There may be a large number of teams in each section. which work separately It is a top-down type of work according to the orders of the authorized person. and with the decision-making process that the authorized person or executive But there are many steps before it can be reached. This makes this method quite time consuming, but the Agile concept has a different way of working. It can be said to reduce unnecessary steps. and focus on regular team discussions

Fundamentals of Lean and Agile thinking lead to higher success in the development of private sector software and systems as compared to the waterfall approach. Government projects have started to experience similar results with the use of images. However, government agencies have to deal with specific challenges in transitioning to a Lean-Agile working model.

Why use Lean-Agile?

Lean-Agile and DevOps approaches are gaining attention among the executives responsible for the complex and large-scale systems developed for governments around the world. Internal and external pressure has fueled interest in changing the way government services are served to citizens and workers. Not surprisingly, these pressures are similar to those that occur in the business world:

  • Doing a business (mission) that requires flexibility.
  • The impact of digital transformation
  • The higher popularity of social media and instant access to information on IT costs.
  • Increased public expectations
  • Long neglected and accumulated problems coupled with outdated systems has led to IT modernization initiatives.
  • The rapid transformation of national defense systems and the global cyber threat environment.

as well as the business sector Governments are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. But the traditional approach to developing and maintaining new technologies However, bureaucracy of the size and scale of the bureaucracy has proven inadequate in solving the problems of the 21st century.
different complexity From France’s unemployment welfare website to fighter jets.
US F-22 These systems require more than just a team-level Agile approach.

Implementation of Agile in the US Government

Since 2012, the Lean-Agile approach has gained a lot of attention for its use in US government technology development programs. in July of that year The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report that recommends specific practices for Agile development.
Here are 14 specific challenges posed by Agile implementation in government: 1) Teams have barriers to collaboration 2) Procurement approaches are not conducive to Agile-based projects 3) Teams have barriers to collaborating. Shift workflow to self-directed 4) Clients are unconvinced of an iterative approach 5) Agents are more difficult to provide timely and frequent information 6) Teams have difficulty in managing iterative requirements 7) Unit Tasks are difficult to delegate to officers 8) Audits are difficult within the iterative timeframe 9) Timely adoption of new tools is difficult 10) Federal reporting practices are not compliant with Agile 11. a) the technical environment is difficult to build and maintain; 12) the conventional artifact inspection is inconsistent with the Agile operation; 13) the Agile operation manual is unclear, and 14) the conventional tracking system is inconsistent with the operation. Agile model within the same year The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has instructed agencies to shift their procurement approach from large, long-term projects to a more modular contracting approach, in line with the figure. Iterative development model. Although these are positive signs that waterfall implementation is less, organizations have found delays in adopting a method that differs from iterative development models. Old Method Implemented Figure 1 shows the timing of the key events that drove the adoption of the Lean-Agile approach in the US federal government.

Figure 1. Major events that have driven Lean-Agile adoption in the U.S. government since 2010
Figure 1. Major events that have driven Lean-Agile adoption in the U.S. government since 2010
  • December 2010 : US Chief Information Officer A 25 Point Plan has been developed to reform federal IT management.
  • June 2012 : Office of Administrative and Budget Prepared “Contracting Guide to Support Modular Contracting”
  • July 2012 : Report of the Office of Responsibility “Efficient Software Development and Federal Challenges in Adopting Agile Methods”
  • October 2013 : website. Recognize the urgent need to improve and modernize working methods.
  • 2014: 18F and USDS established, TechFAR and Digital Services guides released.
  • 2015 : The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) and United States Digital Service (USDS)
    Start Agile Contract Training for new Purchasing Officers.
    – Unit 18F has launched a procurement model. which has been developed urgently for the first time
  • 2016 : The Office of Responsibility established a panel of experts to develop a new Agile Appraisal Manual.
    – Section 809 has appointed a committee to find ways to improve efficiency in
    Better procurement of defense equipment.
  • 2016 – 2018 : Security Law Order the Department of Defense to implement the Agile approach to pilot projects
  • 2018 : – The Air Force launches the Kessel Run Software Innovation Center in Boston.
    – The Defense Science Board publishes a comprehensive report introducing iterative development guidelines and best practices for Department of Defense software purchases.
  • 2019 : The Department of Defense drafts a new policy on Agile-focused software procurement guidelines.
  • 2020 : The Office of Responsibility has released an Agile Assessment Guide that references the Scaled Agile Framework.
  • 2021 : The Security Law 2021 issues guidelines on the mobility of large enterprises and the mobility of non-software procurement of goods and services.

Problematic launch of the website in the US in late 2013 increased interest in the overnight adoption of an Agile approach. This website was created to provide people with health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for several weeks. with emphasis on the basic problems of the website in
national news coverage This reveals a number of weaknesses in traditional web development methods.
This is the method commonly used in government technology plans. People pay attention to the activities included in the government’s IT plans. This encourages the adoption of modern development approaches more openly.
According to an analysis published by Deloitte in 2017 on the adoption of Agile in the US federal government, The percentage of federal IT projects that have adopted agile or iterative processes has seen a significant percentage increase since 2012, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Percentage of federal programs that report using an Agile or iterative development model
Figure 2. Percentage of federal programs that report using an Agile or iterative development model

Lean, Agile, and DevOps approaches have gained a lot of attention in no time. Two new US government entities, 18F, and US Digital Service, were created to attract industry talent to help improve the way the federal government works with IT. modern Similar to how it works in Silicon Valley, the Digial Services Playbook and TechFAR Handbook are two primary resources that help government program administrators understand how to modernize and develop projects and optimize the organization process. procurement to support
Agile Contracting Governments have more and more in-house resources on Agile adoption due to the publication of successful federal government results after the transition to Lean-based approaches. Agile The Department of Homeland Security has designated Agile as the official software development standard. In September 2020, the Accountability Office (GAO) published a draft Agile Methods Assessment Guide: Agile Adoption Best Practices.
Adopted (The GAO Agile Assessment Guide: Best Practices for Agile Adoption and Implementation) In government programs, Congress continues to order increased Agile training and allow improvements in procurement practices. Hiring to be modern It supports agile work through legislation such as the annual National Security Act (NDAA).

Many government technology projects are large and complex. which involved hundreds of operators. (Sometimes thousands) A method was created where teams needed to:

  • Plan and work together
  • Manage cross-functional interdependence
  • frequent integration
  • Demonstration of software and iterative systems
  • Share learning for continuous improvement.

Often, these larger solutions consist of a small group of government officials working closely with a large number of temporary workers. Multiple suppliers holding different contracts may be required to work on the same project across a region. Relatively high warranty standard requirements and compliance, burdensome regulatory regulations. And the unusually long lead times for procurement make government projects even more complicated.

Implementation of Agile in governments around the world

Developing systems for federal and local governments also tends to take an Agile approach, as are governments in countries around the world. Agile For many years, with hundreds of Agile teams working in various ministries and departments, the Pole emploi (French Employment Agency), Dutch Tax Authority and Australian Post (Postal Service) are some examples of global government agencies that There has been a shift towards a large Lean-Agile system. In the case of Pole emploi, their shift has resulted in the delivery of on-time employment benefits. and increase the satisfaction of the service provided by the agency from both the hiring company and job seekers

Government as a Lean Organization

Government agencies are increasingly challenged by pressures calling for change. Just as it drives businesses to accelerate Lean-Agile transformation, the demand for
Agile business (missions) , Digital disruption , Globalization , Increasing cyber threats , Outdated legacy systems . and the growing dependence on technology of business and its mission for success. These are just some of the factors related to both government and industry sectors.

The hallmark of Lean Enterprise is its ability to deliver the best quality and value with the shortest sustainable lead times.

Challenges in Agile Implementation

Despite the impetus for greater adoption of the Lean-Agile approach, however, there are a number of significant obstacles that have slowed its widespread adoption. The most frequently discussed challenges include:

  1. Misuse of Agile methods make hesitant to use it again
  2. Governance that focuses on a waterfall-centric approach and policies are not easy to change.
  3. Procurement officers have no experience in Agile contracting and Lean contracting methods.
  4. Project outcome-oriented work Compared to the concept that focuses on continuous value creation. It’s something that’s deep in the government’s working culture.
  5. Long procurement cycles cause huge losses and delays in work.
  6. The lack of a Lean-Agile framework causes projects to lack coordination and collaboration.

Although these problems are similar to those facing businesses, but the organizational context, culture and
Governance in a government agency work environment is truly unique. The government procurement process aims to provide fair competition between potential service providers. Unlike the private sector, government agencies also lack the competitive market dynamics and profit-making incentives that drive them.
Changes and innovations are as fast as the business sector.
Budget allocators follow the slow process of allocating annual budgets. Even the concept of “value” in government technology projects is often difficult to conceptualize and measure.

Solutions/Recommendations for Agile Implementation

Because the factors in government technology development are specific. Specific guidance is needed to help change agents implement changes. Here are some examples that address some of the most common challenges in implementing Agile in an Agile project. Governments and best practices supporting the transition to the Lean-Agile model

1) Creating Lean-Agile values ​​and principles and practices that are firmly rooted
In government technology project development, there are deep waterfall concepts and processes, just mimicking the way the day-to-day meetings and pending tasks are completed. can not make the agency to be flexible Government executives and practitioners As well as industry partners need to understand why Lean-Agile is fundamentally different from past approaches to technology development.

2) Building an efficient government and procurement team, Lean-Agile development.
It’s like playing a team sport. Government project teams often consist of government personnel and procurement staff. Often these inter-agency relationships are hostile rather than cooperative. This hinders the development of effective teams and, moreover, impedes the rapid delivery of quality and value work.

3) Investments in technology that are in line with the agency’s strategy
Are presented, approved, and It budgets for government technology projects for a variety of reasons. Technology investments are often made on the basis of projected budgets from past projects without having
Annual Benefit Assessment Optimizing the use of limited funds for development can be achieved by prioritizing tasks in accordance with agency criteria.

4) Transition from a project-based approach to an efficient workgroup operation.
Projects for technology development are comparable to Start-stop operation This leads to finding a solution to the problem too fast in the process. While there is such a development process, there may be some unknown. But it is still committed to deliver the work according to all the features as planned in full. In fact, developing a job based on the most important attributes will give you the most value. Project implementation encourages the transfer of people to work, instead of having the team work on a to-do list. An alternative to Lean work is to organize multi-agency efforts into different workflows of workgroups and manage them in order of importance across multiple teams.

5) Lean budgeting that is in line with the development of value streams.
Besides the transformation of project-based operations into different workflows of work groups, budgeting has also changed. Instead of funding individual projects, different budgets
It will be used to support “factories” that can build everything the agency needs in order of importance. Because priorities can change at any time. This way avoids wasted costs and delays in changing orders. or a request to change investments from project to project which facilitates flexibility

6) Implementation of the Lean method for rapid estimation and forecasting.
The Lean-Agile approach has made us realize that conventional estimation and forecasting techniques often fail because building a completely new system contains a lot of things we cannot know in advance. These traditional techniques also create situations where a single solution is defined and that approach is used to define the terms of contracts with other vendors. Lean estimation and forecasting techniques are uncomplicated and enabling the agency to adapt to the ever-changing conditions and at the same time recognizing important reports and responsibilities.

7) Altering procurement methods to enable Lean Agile development and implementation: Barriers to government adoption of Lean-Agile.
This is a cause for concern as is the traditional purchasing process. Procurement officers are required to use a standard contract for each procurement that is set out with terms and conditions consistent with the waterfall approach.
It cannot be regarded as a truly Agile project if the contractor is required to operate in a manner that is against Lean-Agile values ​​and principles.
In the new model, a new contract template for procurement officers is required, which will enable the partner to also be able to do Lean-Agile work.

8) Made with quality Lean-Agile’s goal is to continuously and sustainably develop a technological approach with valuable workflows.
The continuous workflow will This does not happen if the regulatory process, such as ensuring that the organization’s requirements and customer expectations are met, are still activities that will only be undertaken at the end of the project. Changing the way the development team works is only part of the answer. every part of the stream of technological value, including
Operations and supervision must be worked in stages and divided into subgroups. By working in this way, the solution is quality and followed. This is compared to just one final check before the product is released.

9) Modification of governance methods to support flexibility and valuable workflows
Technological developments with traditional governance standards that are still attached to the waterfall model require a roadmap to plan everything in advance. Set a budget before starting work. Prepare a detailed action plan for the unknown. through the development process and so on.
Many more. Lean-Agile working methods meet the original intent. That is, there is sufficient oversight to ensure that missions are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner through the continued use of alternative processes and tools that support valuable workflows.

The U.S. government has accelerated the adoption of Lean-Agile to the point where most programs adopt a form of Agile or partial iterative development (80% or more in the US). However, the Agile approach is often limited to development teams only. and does not meet the challenges of strategic orientation budgeting Project-based planning Procurement, governance, compliance, and so on, agencies lack a common understanding and set of practical implementations across the organization to synergize between plans and operators. perform work
Therefore, it is imperative that the government should focus on training and applying the concept of Agile working to answer all sectors.


Content adapted from SAFe for Government article (
Translator : Ms. Nontharot Kiatwisanchai
Composer: Ms. Piriya Kwanprom