Published on September 16, 2007
RFP vs. Website A Love Story for the NZ egov barcamp
Attraction • RFPs must represent interests of gov’t • Websites must represent interests of... government
Attraction • RFPs must represent interests of gov’t • Websites must represent interests of... government • Both sides want the same thing really bad so what’s the issue?
Lust • Government wants the best site it can get: slick, feature-full, broad browser support, etc. • A web shop wants to deliver the best site it can: slick, feature-full, broad browser support, etc.
Courtship • RFP’s are issued, vendors breathlessly respond. • “We can do that, no problem.” • “It’s just a simple <insert feature here>.” • The right questions are not being asked: • how to prioritize? what user experience are you aiming for?
Marriage • The deal is signed and the relationship, um, consummated. • Now the fun begins...
Conﬂict • What’s the most common source of conﬂict in any loving relationship?
Conﬂict • Breakdown of Communication: • features not clearly elaborated (this does not imply “create a thick spec doc”) • misunderstandings based on inaccurate perceptions • commitments (drivers on both sides) not understood • wild-ass-umptions
Conﬂict Resolution (Cover Your Ass) • Try to place blame • Work really long hours and possibly succeed while deﬁnitely shortening your lifespan
Dissolution or Resentment • Worst case things go really wrong and the project dissolves, creating animosity all around • Next-worst case you struggle through, resenting the other side while on Death March to the ﬁnish line • Better case: Both sides have conﬂicts but communicate well and work through them
Good Divorce • Eventually, some kind of ﬁnish line is crossed and both sides go their separate ways, usually. • Ideally you want to be in a good place at this point • Only way to be in a good place is by communicating well • But how?
What went wrong? • RFP not addressing fundamental needs • Need to have accountability is in conﬂict with how websites need to be developed • Desire to over-specify on next project • This is the intuitive response, and the wrong one
How do other people do it? • Websites are software • Example: US DoD MilStd 2167-A • Dangerous trend toward the above • How to avoid?
Answer: Agile Techniques • There is no Holy Grail • Agile is better than other approaches • risk management • expectation management • How to reconcile Agile with government needs?
Tweak Government • Government expectations rooted in outdated needs and goals (from a software perspective) • A lot of what we’re talking about today is how to get government to recognize it’s 2007 • So...?
Speciﬁcs (for both sides) • Show the intent of what you’re trying to achieve. Give usage scenarios. • Ask questions. • Provide examples of desired (or mandatory) functionality. • Say what’s out of scope. • Recognize conﬂict. Allow for room to resolve during the project.
Bend like a reed • Both sides need to be ﬂexible (and still ﬁrm) to achieve a good outcome • Frequent communication is critical • Use tech to help communicate • Skype, wiki, email • Agree to intent and high-level only • Finally...
Have fun • Order icanhascheezburger shirts for the team
Thank you • Brian Calhoun • firstname.lastname@example.org • 021 506 844
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