So, what is it?
Agile procurement is a way of purchasing services based on the outcome required rather than the product specification. Procuring solutions in an Agile way provides the opportunity for a more flexible and collaborative experience for both buyers and suppliers.
Agile allows buyers to move away from fully scoped projects and start an early dialogue with suppliers who offer solutions to the overall problem.
Why Agile procurement aligns with public sector values
Agile software project management is based on iteration and transparency, and these terms should be ingrained in how government procures. Working in iterations allows for development, continuous improvement and user feedback. And of course, public sector procurement should be open and transparent.
Technology moves so fast; the public sector cannot be expected to know all the available tech solutions to their problem. Implementing Agile procurement processes allows them to change course where needed and ensure the right solution to the problem is found.
Why effective supplier and contract management is key to Agile procurement
For Agile procurement to be successful it must have someone driving the project, making sure the business needs are being addressed. During an Agile procurement process, suppliers can often take on a greater share of the project management and development. So, it is key that you have a positive and cooperative relationship with them and keep in mind the overall vision for the project.
Just as the relationship with the supplier is more collaborative in Agile procurement, so is the contract. Rather than being focused on fixed deliverables, these contracts are based on outcomes, challenges solved and iterative learning.
In theory, Agile seems to be coming out of the shadows when it comes to public sector procurement. The practices and principles greater align with the rhetoric coming out of government digital organisations. However, there is still a way to go for this approach to be widely adopted across government. It requires more trust and arguably more effort from both the supplier and the buyer. Both parties need to buy into the practice and move away from the ‘fixed cost’ and pre-defined definitions of delivery mindset.