I've been privileged to ask for a review for the recently printed book Agile Project Management For Government written by Brian Wernham. My initial thought was that this was just another book about Agile Project Management complemented with some study cases for government agencies, I was totally mistaken, this is indeed a great book that covers real case studies in several countries and for very large implementations like the FBI Sentinel project.
These case studies just provoke the reader and keep him/her interested for reading the rest of the great material that this book has to offer. It's no secret the great expenditure of tax money that governments put to backup IT projects but what these cases studies made more than evident is that money is not the only enabler. On the same venue, well founded government projects are lacking agility and that is hindering their ability to deliver value.
This book provides hope for all those government projects and actors that can turn they look into more efficient ways for working close to the end user and deliver incrementally usable products. Much transformation is needed inside government officials and IT departments and for that this book offer nine Agile Leadership Behavior closely aligned to the Agile Manifesto. These behaviors if successfully implemented could turn disastrous projects into successful ones; what is even more important, government IT personnel can also deliver high quality software in shorter periods of time like their cousins in the IT private sector are already doing.
The big caveat is the rigid and bureaucratic structure that many governments enforce in their ranks. Brian did a great job describing 6 barriers that prevent Agile from success in government IT projects. The mega-project mania really caught my attention because we're so accustomed to think that everything that governments do come in mammoth size. Smaller, faster and better seems to have been lost for the sake of complexity; this book does a great job remind us all that there is excellence in simplicity and light weight methods.
Five years from now I think that this book will still be in my bookshelf as a key reference book. What is even more important, people who have read this book would have delivered successful projects produced in an energizing work environment enabled by Agile principles and values.