The Government Digital Service, a branch of the Cabinet Office focused on developing government websites, has published the source code for a self-built requirements management tool named the ‘Needotron’.
The tool was built to help developers prioritise end-user requirements for the gov.uk pan-governmental website, formerly known as alphgov, that is currently being built.
The GDS assessed all the requirements, or ‘needs’, that end users may have for website by analysing search terms for the current government portal, directgov.uk. It went through a process of prioritising these requirements "to make sure we work on the most important things first", the GDS blog explains.
The Needotron is a project management tool that keeps a record of all the decisions that developers make relating to each of the 950 requirements. For example, some needs have been merged into others, and some have been discarded altogether. "The Needotron tracks the history of a need through the process and records the reasons for decisions".
"We are planning to develop the Needotron into a fully fledged product dashboard to help product managers understand how well each and every need is being met," GDS wrote.
The code for the Needotron has been published on github, a collaborative software development portal. A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office confirmed that organisations are free to copy and use the software for their own purposes.
The spokesperson said that publishing the code is in keeping with the government’s objective to become more transparent. "For commercial reasons, we can’t always make everything that is built in the government’s name freely available, but we’re definitely interested in doing more things along these lines," they said.