Today we’re proud to announce the release of our state software budgeting handbook, “De-risking custom technology projects: A handbook for state budgeting and oversight” a 40-page guide for executives, budget specialists, legislators, and other decision makers who fund or oversee state government technology projects.

State IT projects are especially challenging. Many decision makers tasked with funding and oversight responsibility lack basic knowledge about modern software development. These stakeholders often rely on outdated procurement processes better suited to physical infrastructure than modern software. As a result, only about 13% of major government software projects succeed (according to a report from The Standish Group).

The handbook will provide state officials with tools to make custom technology projects more successful. Over a dozen best practices are documented, including budgeting for software as an operational expertise, limiting contract size, measuring success iteratively, and hiring in-house tech talent. Additionally, the handbook helps leaders identify better outcomes, empowering them with basic knowledge of software design principles.

In work funded by the U.S. General Services Administration’s 10x program, our researchers spent a year meeting with state legislators, legislative fiscal staff, budget and contracting officers, as well as gubernatorial policy advisors. Our aim was to reduce risk and deliver value faster to people using IT systems, both inside and outside of government. We learned about their challenges and developed the handbook to provide a comprehensive guide to share insights and best practices.

The handbook is available now, both online and in PDF format. We’re excited to see how this helps state employees and legislators in the years ahead. If you have questions, suggestions, or any kind of feedback, we’d be happy to hear from you. The handbook is on GitHub, and we welcome forks, pull requests, and issues!