What works for state legacy systems overhaul

What works for state legacy systems upgrades

Taking what it learned from legacy systems upgrades in California and Mississippi, the General Services Administration’s 18F has published resources and a guidebook to help state and local governments improve technology procurement.   

These resources stem from 18F’s work helping California and Mississippi replace legacy child welfare systems using modular contracting, agile software development and human-centered design. Now, those lessons learned are online for any agency to reuse, according to a post by 18F.

For its Child Welfare System overhaul, California used 18F’s agile blanket purchase agreement to set up a pool of agile development vendors who had demonstrated their ability to use the state’s Health and Human Services application program interface to access data, meet user needs and produce user-centered software. Similarly, Mississippi worked with 18F to find vendors it could use throughout its project by asking them to build a prototype based on a single user story and a dataset, according to 18F.

The modular procurement approach awards smaller contracts over time for different parts of the system, rather than requiring the state to issue lengthy, complex solicitations that result in traditional waterfall development practices. As a result, it allows agencies to ensure the system’s value to end users and get system components into production faster, a GSA spokesperson told GCN.

As states look to replace their legacy systems, they can use 18F’s list of modular contracting resources to help them understand the concept, implement modular contracting in their organization and learn how modular contracting can enable agile development. The resources, which have been created by 18F and its agency partners, provide links to a number of real-world examples, presentations, the U.S. Digital Service’s Playbook, white papers and case studies that organizations can use for modular contracting. The collection also provides sample RFP documents, prototype challenges and vendor pool evaluations used in 18F’s state agency projects.

State IT managers can use 18F’s agile development guidebook for information about agile software development, open source software, modular contracting, commercial off-the-shelf solutions and commonly asked questions from 18F’s previous work with state partners.

Ultimately, 18F hopes these tools will help governments see legacy system replacement as a series of interconnected pieces or modules, rather than a single monolithic project. The state guidebook and modular contracting documents are available on GitHub, so agencies can contribute their own techniques, share experiences and suggest ideas. 18F also plans to continue expanding its collection over time.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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