Agile Government Digital Service (GDS) framework was designed and adopted by the UK public sector to ensure a higher level of agility in their digital services development programmes. This terminology is not new for people and enterprises that are already associated with digital services market or public sector transformation initiatives in the UK.
For all enterprises and professionals involved in digital transformation projects or digital services development, it is vital to have a firm grasp on the historical background and reasons for putting in place a distinct framework.
With the emergence of new technologies and the wide-scale implementation of digital transformation programmes to accelerate business processes and automate various operations, the term ‘digital transformation' has gained immense popularity across the globe. Often, it is assumed that the meaning of the term is restricted to ‘technology’ and ‘digital services’ only; we tend to overlook the most important aspect of digital transformation which is a ‘flexible mindset’ and a ‘definite approach’ that encourages exploring better avenues for efficient utilisation of available resources, developing a deeper understanding of user problems and, delivering quicker and acceptable outcomes.
In 2011, the UK government established a dedicated department called ‘The Government Digital Service (GDS)’ to deliver on the vision to transform the provision of online public services under their ‘Digital by Default’ strategy. The department is a unit of the UK government’s cabinet office and oversees the implementation of Agile methodology and defined standards in all of their digital service development programmes.
In this context, the Government Digital Service department can be regarded as a leading authority for all digital transformation initiatives of the UK government. They have created a service manual that clearly lays out a set of pre-defined principles and best practices to employ in the execution of transformation programmes.
The focus of this approach from a higher level perspective is on recognising user needs and understanding the pain points before embarking on the digital transformation journey. The distinction between the standard ‘Agile’ practices and ‘Agile with GDS’ is not strikingly distinct but they differ in terms of their structure.
The UK government’s Agile with Government Digital Service framework divides its entire service development into multiple stages such as Discovery, Alpha, Beta (Private, Public) and Live. At the culmination of each stage, the stakeholders and respective users review/experience the outcome and provide their feedback, decisions, necessary approvals and funding to begin the next stage of the programme.
Even if one is not directly involved with transformation projects in the UK public sector, Agile GDS still offers a strategy that can be employed for improving the efficiency of different digital transformation programmes.
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