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Change has to start somewhere: kill upgrades, release often and save the public sector money

Last Tuesday, I attended an event in London to discuss Digital trends in Local Government - what came out of it was remarkable.

The meeting was designed to help carve out ideas that offered opportunities, brainstorm emerging trends and identify commodity areas that should be simple off the shelf solutions. Basically, a lot of post-it notes. 

It was a fascinating meeting, both in reality and in my head.  What struck me was that all the suppliers in the room had some great ideas as well as a ton of enthusiasm.

We captured a string of trends and upcoming technologies that could be potential game-changers. Two of the ideas, pace of change in IT and Web Security stuck with me. These were things that we at Jadu could easily move forward.

What was clear, was that there are IT vendors in the market that refuse to change their ways: APIs that either don't exist or are heavily licensed. Slow pace of upgrade, slow pace of change, never mind that many Government back office systems are essentially closed and gated communities.

The sentiment of the day for me was the IT sector needs to kill upgrades, release often and save the public sector money.

Expensive upgrades preventing progress.

These were things we at Jadu were also frustrated with. A decade of trying to integrate with systems that have no API or webservices has made us change the way we make our own software. We ensure the Jadu APIs are free and open. We also iterate our software much faster, thanks to Agile.

DCLG meeting

An inspired meeting with some passionate people. My note book filled with ideas, two of which Jadu will implement immediately. We hope it starts some form of change.

Jadu is founded on action. As an impatient founder - I've surrounded myself with impatient people. We are uber specialist at delivery and execution. One of the most amazing things about my team - is the almost super-human ability to meet impossible deadlines and get a job done. Being in meetings that don't result in immediate actions frustrates anyone at Jadu.

After the meeting, I met with an old friend, Mark Chillingworth for a glass of beer. We were talking about the state of Government, some great CIOs we both know and about what makes media communication successful in the current climate. Mark said something remarkable. He said "the real voice is in your team".

This was an epiphany.

The next day my team made some swift decisions that should lead some direct change that will save our customers money and pain and put Jadu in the lead with Agile iteration. We think just one of these changes, continuous delivery will have a massive impact. 

We will save the 70+ Local Authorities in the UK using Jadu Platform over £1.2m in external and internal costs. That's a lot of money that can be re-invested into innovation.

Based on the cost of external IT support and internal resource costs

Two actions we are immediately putting in place as a direct result of those two meetings - some meaningful change:

1. Speeding up digital:

There is more vendors should be doing to support LocalDigital. Much more. It simply is not happening. APIs are heavily licensed and expensive and more often than not - unavailable. Ironically, the big BPO vendors are common suppliers that charge for APIs making an immediate barrier. Aside from that the cost of upgrade is becoming unacceptable according to our customers. The maintenance cost of enterprise software is too high. 

We will take a position on this and hope the industry pays some attention. Making upgrades faster will move local government on further. APIs can be released faster, new features can be released faster and security updates can be shipped faster. All of that should be the responsibility of the vendor. The commercial benefit is customer loyalty, case study and goodwill. 

Our action: we will remove upgrade costs. There are over 70 local authorities using Jadu so this will have disruptive impact on the market. 

2. Making security a commodity:

Jadu will make its position clear on web security and 2FA (Two Factor Authentication), at the very least of access to administrative systems. By making upgrades free and more immediate, we can implement smarter security on behalf of the local authorities and make it optional. If a council wanted to implement 2FA . They shouldn't need to buy something else.

Our action: We will implement 2FA for all customers and we're making it easy to enable. We will start with the administrative log-in to our software and iterate from there.

I see myself as a facilitator and an agent for change - rather than a top down business manager. My team is autonomous - we all work together for a common aim, which means we can deliver things literally in real-time. What really helps, is that we are Agile. That means we are accepting and welcoming of rapid change and we can deliver things quickly. Like our software. 

I hope the Government software industry takes note. We all know that we can release faster and cheaper. Time to let go of software stranglehold and invest in the goodwill and good karma of customer loyalty. Solve the pain and we all gain.

The change has to start somewhere. If we all get behind continuous release - perhaps other vendors will take note and change their policy on how they support their customers with the digital challenge.

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