Jun 23, 2009

It's Okay Not to Know-But How Will This Work?

Empty goal, photo by henning via FlickrNextGov reports that would-be Recovery.gov designers face a moving target,
Web-design firms bidding on a contract to revamp the official stimulus-tracking site Recovery.gov face the challenge of building a prototype that must comply with unpredictable content requirements, according to procurement specialists and information access academics.

In October, agencies will be required to start transmitting reports from stimulus fund recipients to Recovery.gov, which is maintained by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. But the details of what will go into those reports and the technologies that will dispatch information have not been finalized.--Read more on NextGov
It's great that the Board at Recovery.Gov is not creating a multi-volume set of requirements. In addition to lacking the time, the tortured requirements process is not a clear path to application success.

But what is the path to success?

A challenge in a project like this--especially when establishing a new work relationship--is to have client and vendor share the same expectations.

I hope that the RFP includes clear and specific goals for the site. I hope that it defines what success is--for the END USER. This definition will provide the touchstone to develop and evaluate features, to set appropriate phases of implementation, and to pull the plug on efforts going astray.

I hope that the project includes government program staff who are well-versed in the technology and who have the time to participate as partners, rather than observers. I hope, too, that their bosses trust them to do the work and make the decisions they need to make.

I hope that the people working on the effort spend most time coding, iterating, sharing, fixing and coding, iterating, sharing, fixing and fewer resources on updating project management software.

I hope that there is the courage to honestly say what's working and what's not, and to be able to say when a timeline is flawed or to jettison some one's pet feature in order to make the deadline.

And, I hope that the project goals are reviewed in every meeting to keep everyone aligned with the big picture.

Did I say goals were critical to success? This is especially key when there are so many unknowns.

Good luck!

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