Michael Brennan – Thinking Agile With The DTO

Apis has recently had the opportunity to work with the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) on a ‘transition’ project for a Commonwealth Government client.


More than an IT system development approach

Apis has recently had the opportunity to work with the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) on a ‘transition’ project for a Commonwealth Government client.
The project set out to explore transition points in a citizen’s life, during which there is an increased need to access or interact with multiple Government services, and aimed to discover opportunities to assist citizens with navigating the myriad of Government services available to them during these periods.

The project was executed over a 20-week period and traversed three stages of the DTO’s Service Design and Delivery Process – Discovery, Alpha and Beta. The fourth stage, (Go) Live, will be linked to the progress of the .GOV.AU initiative, which you can read more about here.

Working closely with the DTO allowed us to observe its fresh approach to the design, development and delivery of public services. The DTO’s open approach to sharing knowledge and practices is dynamic and adaptable to many situations, and will assist Departments and agencies to adopt enhanced work practices with respect to the design and delivery of services.
At the core of this approach is the agile team, a multidisciplinary group wholly responsible for a project’s outcome. The team is led by the Product Manager and supported by the Delivery Manager and Agile Coach. Each team member not only possesses deep subject matter expertise (e.g. User Experience Design), but also contributes throughout the development cycle, applying themselves to areas they may not necessarily specialise in. For example, a UX researcher would play a lead role during the discovery phase of a project, and would also contribute to content design and development during its later stages. This approach replicates the “T shaped” characteristic of agile work practices, whereby each team member obtains deep knowledge and skills in one or more disciplines, and broad knowledge and skills across multiple others.

Adopting this agile approach for service design and delivery aims to improve visibility of the project outcome throughout the lifecycle, increase the adaptability of the project so it can respond to progressive feedback, and deliver value to end users sooner through iterative releases.

Our involvement in this project with the DTO has led us to reflect on our own approach to agile working for non-ICT projects.

At Apis, we have agile techniques and methods within our own work practices that lend themselves equally to business projects as they do to ICT projects. For example, many of our teams use daily SCRUM meetings to set priorities, maintain clear team communication and remove barriers to delivery on a daily basis.

As management consultants, we play an important role in helping Departments and agencies adapt to the DTO Service Standard, and where appropriate, encourage the adoption of agile ways of working. However, it is equally important for us to understand the culture and maturity of an organisation, so as to determine the approach and pace for introducing agile work practices.

On 29 August 2016, the DTO launched the digital market place where providers of digital delivery services can be accessed by Government Departments. Apis is a member of the DTO panel and provides a range of services including: