Yesterday I participated in a really interesting workshop run by Software AG for public sector organisations seeking to modernise their IT infrastructures and approaches. I presented on the role of open source in government, particularly its role in modernising the culture. Open source should not be seen as a goal in itself, but as a means to end. The end, in the UK at least, being Digital by Default, as defined by the talented folks over at Government Digital Service (GDS). One of the unalloyed successes of the current UK government has been its strongly activist stance to improve public sector IT, in order to reduce transaction costs and improve services to citizens. Or put another way – how to stop wasting billions of pounds a year on IT projects that completely fail to deliver on their objectives. Well done Cabinet Office! But the Cabinet Office can only really lead by example – the ministries themselves need to implement the changes.
The session was excellent, although it confirmed that massive outsourcing contracts really are the biggest problem when it comes to wasting taxpayer money on IT, and many of them are not up for renewal for some time.
Anyway I just wanted to highlight the suggestions on my wrap up slide
Digital by Default > Open Source (open source is a means)
Service Design > Open Source (service design and the user story trump everything)
Open Source != Non-Commercial (open source doesn’t mean you don’t have a throat to choke)
Open Source != Open Standards (this confusion has been around since I joined the industry, and it’s still just as unhelpful)
Open Data (how to win friends and influence people)
New approaches to governance for IP, contract, supplier, project and portfolio management (open source does change everything)
Use Open Source to change the culture/as an organisational principle (see above)
Successful Open Source requires a technical competence (GDS is a great example. you can’t leave IT to procurement and legal people)
Impact on application development
agile, continuous deployment, microservices/APIs, TDD, DevOps, NoSQL, UX (cloud/web/doing things better)
Learn and Borrow from the Web – code, events, publications, tools
Software License fees are fair game, claim the rebate (don’t allow SIs to replace proprietary software with open source and not pass on the savings)
Build, Deploy, Iterate – quick wins. Try before you buy. (join the maker movement, it will turn you into a more effective purchaser)