Digitalization (Ministry of Science)
Public focus on a flexible model of development
Digitaliser.dk is at the center of the public effort to digitalize and its development is based on the agile method, Scrum and on the components of open source. The public sector digitalization will provide major administrative and economic gains. However, the effort will only be successful, if public and private actors can agree on the most optimal data exchange standards.
Hence, the obvious move was to create a site – digitaliser.dk – for the development of knowledge and dialogue on digitalization, benefitting both authorities and suppliers, explains office manager Christian Lanng of the Ministry of Science.
However, the civil service had no particular tradition of promoting two-way communication to large user groups. Thus, there was no readily available solution on which to base the new digitalization portal. Finally, it was a demand that this solution could be made available for all interested parties. Thus, basing the portal on licenced technology was precluded.
Open standards and ruthless prioritizing
"Even though we could not use licenced software, nothing impeded looking for a standard solution. Components often applied make it simpler to extricate oneself from single suppliers and that makes for a broader use of the solution," Christian Lanng explains.
A solution was chosen with Fedora based infrastructure components and the content management system Umbraco, both built on open source code and a wide user base.
However, development methodology was equally important, and the agile ”Scrum”, which works with short development cycles, regular supplier feedback and priority on critical solution elements, was chosen.
First site version ready in only three months
Using Scrum, we managed to build a functional site quite fast, which was open for refinement later. "However, always in such a way that the most essential elements were developed first", says Christian Lanng.
The result was that only three months passed from the initiation of the development work in June 2008, until the first version of digitaliser.dk went online. "It was deeply impressive to see the first version of digitaliser.dk online in such a short time. Particularly when considering the fact that the same work can last two, if not three years, using traditional development – and procurement models, where a much larger assignment is taken on and subsequently, all changes must be negotiated as were they independent purchases. In this case we prioritized ruthlessly. And it paid off", Christian Lanng states.
However, the agile development methodology showed its worth after another month, when the Minister of Science announced that the site was also to support a direct debate function.
"In this case, Scrum made it possible to create several editions of the site in only two weeks and we made the deadline. Furthermore, we did not have to pay the supplier extra, as we merely postponed other development tasks", Christian Lanng says.