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Minimum Viable Taxes - Lessons learned building a MVP in the IRS

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Although the IRS can process your refund quickly, it does not have a reputation for quick internal change; it still uses many applications from the Kennedy administration. But Andrea Schneider, Senior Manager of Product Management in Online Services, is helping the IRS launch a MVP early in next year’s filing season that will allow taxpayers to access basic tax information online, including their balance, tax records, and payment histories, as well as make a payment. She, along with Lauren Gilchrist, Product Manager at Pivotal Labs, who is partnering with the IRS to build the MVP, will discuss their biggest challenges along the way and share advice for experimenting and iterating inside large bureaucracies.

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Minimum Viable Taxes - Lessons learned building a MVP in the IRS

  1. 1. Minimum Viable Taxes Lessons learned building a MVP in the IRS Andrea Schneider @AZSchneiderinMD Lauren Gilchrist @lgilchrist Lovingly illustrated by Linda Joy @ljoy
  2. 2. It all began with a business problem...
  3. 3. IRS gets too many calls from taxpayers asking “what do I owe?”
  4. 4. Maybe we can solve this problem with software...
  5. 5. But, building software in the IRS is hard.
  6. 6. Could agile make building software easier?
  7. 7. Agile isn’t a silver bullet. We still need to build the right software.
  8. 8. Government really needs to build the right software.
  9. 9. Could lean help us build the right software?
  10. 10. Lean tells us to: 1. List your assumptions 2.Understand your customers 3.Get something into the world 4.Adjust based on evidence
  11. 11. Taxpayers want to know their basic tax history 1. LIST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
  12. 12. Is that true? Let’s ask real taxpayers. 2. UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMERS
  13. 13. 3. GET SOMETHING INTO THE WORLD
  14. 14. Taxpayers want to know what they owe the IRS 4. ADJUST BASED ON EVIDENCE
  15. 15. 4. ADJUST BASED ON EVIDENCE Before After
  16. 16. Lean made us confident we were building the right software.
  17. 17. What does lean government software development look like?
  18. 18. What does lean government look like? 1. Test with real people 2.Use data wisely 3.Embrace constraints upfront
  19. 19. It can be hard to find representative users. 1. TEST WITH REAL PEOPLE
  20. 20. Employees are not a substitute for users. 1. TEST WITH REAL PEOPLE
  21. 21. Test before launching (or even building!) 1. TEST WITH REAL PEOPLE
  22. 22. Evidence doesn’t need to be statistically significant 2. USE DATA WISELY
  23. 23. Balance qualitative & quantitative evidence. 2. USE DATA WISELY
  24. 24. Be a scientist, not an expert. 2. USE DATA WISELY
  25. 25. Begin with accessibility 3. EMBRACE CONSTRAINTS UPFRONT
  26. 26. Begin with compliance 3. EMBRACE CONSTRAINTS UPFRONT
  27. 27. MVP looks different for the government. 3. EMBRACE CONSTRAINTS
  28. 28. What does lean government look like? 1. Test with real people 2.Use data wisely 3.Embrace constraints
  29. 29. Lean is really hard. Lean is really worth it.
  30. 30. If the IRS can embrace lean, you can too.
  31. 31. Questions? Andrea Schneider @AZSchneiderinMD Lauren Gilchrist @lgilchrist Lovingly illustrated by Linda Joy @ljoy
  32. 32. Thank you! Andrea Schneider @AZSchneiderinMD Lauren Gilchrist @lgilchrist Lovingly illustrated by Linda Joy @ljoy

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