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Why government can[not] build digital services iteratively

1bdc2012d1ccc0dcdb0d2fd057a5978d?s=47 Andreas Amsler
December 05, 2017

Why government can[not] build digital services iteratively

Since 2011 public-sector organizations in the UK have embraced, tested and implemented a paradigm shift towards faster, shorter, more ‘modular’ ICT procurement and development. The motivation behind is to minimize risks on a large scale and to operate ‘more sustainable’ IT solutions.

In the past five years the understanding and pressure to reconsider existing practice has grown in Switzerland, too. In terms of procurement, governance, implementation and operation of IT solutions, ‘iterative’ approaches with shorter and more frequent release cycles are often in conflict with public-sector trends to build large IT procurement programs and implement large IT systems.

In my thesis I am discussing why the UK approach is [not] practicable in Switzerland at Federal level because of public procurement or other legal reasons. I am showing how ‘iterative’ approaches are already practiced in all phases of building ‘digital services’, and that they can be legitimated on the existing legal framework. My conclusion is: ‘iteration’ is ‘safe-to-try’ for Swiss government, too.

In this Liiptalk I want to share with others these findings to clear away myths and/or excuses one might has heard about 'iterative' and 'agile'.


Andreas Amsler

December 05, 2017


  1. Why government can[not] build digital services iteratively Andreas Amsler, @andreasamsler

    - 5 Dec, 2017, Liiptalk Animated version including speaker notes: liip.to/iterate
  2. Why do I care? When government is building digital services

  3. Place your elements over this background 1920x760px It’s public money

    being spent ..
  4. Place your elements over this background 1920x760px Dependencies being created

    for long ..
  5. Place your elements over this background 1920x760px Users kept waiting

    with unsatisfied needs ..
  6. What’s the standard process? draft procure develop gov.uk/service-manual

  7. SUMM A different approach research build test learn gov.uk/service-manual

  8. Iterating, what’s that? gov.uk/service-manual

  9. Is it something new? iteration

  10. Is it widely applied? iterative

  11. Is it going to disappear? to iterate

  12. To iterate is a standard method laws processes methods ?

    x ✔ , but not a process nor a law DNA of Government
  13. Reality bites … for lawyers, govs et al. Flagship digital

    services are mostly built by iterating. (e.g. produkte.migros.ch) … i.e. flagship government digital services, too. (e.g. opendata.swiss) Conclusion: 1. Those in government, who want to iterate (because it works ..), are doing it. 2. Procurement laws and regulations are not banning them from doing it. 3. To ease the appliance of ‘iterative’, the standard process needs adaptation.
  14. What can you do to adapt the process: Emphasize: 1.

    To iterate is safe to try. 2. To iterate reduces risk a. of money being spent for nothing; b. of becoming dependent on another legacy application; c. – and ultimately – of not meeting growing user needs (enough). Do not give in: 1. Do not let frustration win: Share your experiences with (like-minded) people. 2. Do not compromise: Be the change you want to see.
  15. What’s your experience with iterating in government? 2011 2017 2021

    where do you / they / we stand?
  16. Example:

  17. 2011 2017 2021 .. Progress is possible iteratively, i.e. steadily!

  18. Anything? Please let me know .. thanks! twitter: @andreasamsler linkedin:

    linkedin.com/in/aamsler mail: a.amsler@gmail.com