States’ digital services efforts are evolving

In the short time since it launched in October 2019, the Colorado Digital Service has evolved, its director says on StateScoop’s Priorities podcast.

One of the ways the young agency has matured, says Kelly Taylor, the director, is by following a recognition that procurement is as important as software engineering and user experience.

“Working in government, procurement is a core competency people need to have,” Taylor says. “As you move into this new way of these cross-functional multi-discipline teams where the procurement understanding of the team is just as important as the engineering understanding for success, that’s one of the big differences I feel like in government versus my experience in the private sector. For us, this idea of aligning the money with the product delivery, this hits home.”

Taylor says that state agencies and lawmakers alike are interested in changing how Colorado hires software vendors and that this idea could begin to take hold in state government.

“As a product manager, I don’t want the pressure of multimillion dollar budgets,” Taylor says “I want to be able to iterate, I want to be able to learn and make things better as I get more input. And that comes from users using the product you’re building, it comes from conditions around the ecosystem and the industry and the world you’re living in and how things change.”

Later in the podcast, Giuseppe Morgana, the digital director of the New Jersey Office of Innovation, says user-centered design and agile development have allowed the state to develop tools that work, quickly. He cites the launch of the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub as a case in which modern development practices improved the state’s odds of success.

“We went from idea to actually launching and having that announced by the governor in about a week and we know that first version wasn’t perfect, but it got a lot of information out there and it was helpful,” Morgana says. “And it also gave us an opportunity to learn more what users needed and the support that they were looking for and so shortly after that we added a new component to that site around helping folks find information regarding jobs and unemployment, and so it was a very iterative process.”

On this episode:

  • Kelly Taylor, director, Colorado Digital Service
  • Giuseppe Morgana, digital director, New Jersey Office of Innovation
  • Colin Wood, managing editor, StateScoop & EdScoop

This piece is part of StateScoop & EdScoop’s Special Report on Digital Services.

Listen to archived episodes of Priorities from Season 5 (2020),  Season 4 (2019)Season 3 (2018)Season 2 (2017) and Season 1 (2016). Catch all of StateScoop’s podcasts on SoundcloudApple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher or Alexa’s TuneIn.