In the news today, Iain Duncan Smith has been questioned on progress of the Universal Credit system and the software development write off.
So what causes the government to write off software before it is even finished?
Well, whilst I am not an expert on government software, we have over the years worked with several public bodies when specifying and developing software and the process is significantly more complex than when dealing with private companies.
The principal problem in our experience is the lack of a single decision maker and in its place, a decision by committee culture, made worse by the fact that the committee is always changing!
Our solution is to project manage the process closely, document everything and identify changes made to previously agreed specifications. This safeguards us commercially but costs the tax payer money every time the public body changes its mind.
Why is public software so expensive anyway?
Well, it's not the scale. Well designed software should scale up relatively easily so it must be the complexity that costs. But complexity is built by human beings, and generally, committees build complex systems; the trick in software design is to take a seemingly complex process and simplify it.
At Triangle we pride ourselves on our approach in simplifying seemingly complex processes. Simple software is less expensive, quicker to learn, easier to use and less error prone, all benefits that a private business person would understand but it would appear, large public bodies have a problem with.