US Treasury officials probing blockchain technology have listed their advice for other government agencies thinking of taking up the ground-breaking technology.
After looking at how blockchain works for six months, the working party came up with some recommendations – but surprisingly none related to the blockchain but to the people developing software based on the technology.
The project team discovered including blockchain non-believers and non-technical staff in their development process was a surprising help rather than a hindrance.
The suggestions were made by the Bureau of Fiscal Studies after a team put together a blockchain app for tracking gadgets issued to staff, such as tablets, laptops and smartphones.
According to the bureau’s blog, these are the five important points to consider about blockchain:
Is blockchain the best solution for the problem?
The bureau suggests if the developers can answer ‘yes’ to several of these questions, then switching to the blockchain is worthwhile – but to answer the questions, the team must have a deep understanding of the problem they are tasked with solving.
The questions are:
- Do you need a structured central repository of information?
- Is more than one entity reading or writing to the database?
- Do the parties/entities in the system trust each other?
- Are central gatekeepers introducing costs and /or friction when verifying transactions?
- Are there routine or logical interactions that could be programmed to self-execute?
Probe the pain points
Discover the good and bad points from users about the current system to ease development of a blockchain solution.
Map the processes
The devil is in the detail and sometimes mapping the current process throws up overlooked functionality in the existing system or other small tweaks that negate the need to reinvent the current solution.
Get out of the echo chamber
Building a team that includes blockchain sceptics and non-technical users means any solution is robustly tested by people who may not believe in the new technology. A pro-blockchain team may be blinded by hype and ‘force a square peg in a round hole’.
Explain what you are doing
In the bureau’s case, taking time to clearly explain how the blockchain solution might work to agency governance boards speeded rather than slowed the project, while the task helped the project team see their problems and solutions more clearly.