Here at Digital Foundry, we’ve worked on hundreds of digital projects with the world’s top companies over the last 20+ years. In that time, we’ve employed a multitude of different approaches to product development. Currently, we utilize an Agile ecosystem using a Scrum framework, a popular workflow but one which we’ve fine tuned to our own variation from countless experiences. Through these experiences we’ve recognized a few practices that have helped our development process run more efficiently and are worth mentioning as we kick off the New Year.
Clear Vision and Objectives
It’s imperative that the ultimate goal of any project is clearly defined. To do so, a Scrum Team must have a Product Owner that completely understands the stakeholder’s needs. These desires must be clearly outlined and accompanied by explicit acceptance criteria.
New scrum teams can fall into traps in a number of ways. Often times, the mistake occurs when the definition of “done” is not clearly stated. This could be caused by a Product Owner not fully understanding the stakeholder’s needs or failing to articulate those needs to the rest of the scrum team. Scrum Masters should help coach both the Scrum Team as well as the Product Owner so that everyone shares and understands all pertinent information.
High Touch Communication
Throughout the development process, team members will have multiple instances to communicate. From the Sprint Planning Meetings and Daily Scrums to the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospectives. It’s critical to take full advantage of these opportunities in order to establish/maintain complete transparency. The other benefit of frequent communication is to maintain a high level of agility. If an impediment is uncovered or a pivot becomes necessary, it is reported to the team/Scrum Master immediately so that appropriate follow-up actions are performed quickly.
Kickoff Inception Deck
At the onset, sharing an inception deck with the team during an organized kickoff meeting reinforces the project goals and benefits the project in a number of ways:
Generates a consensus:
A kickoff is not just reiterating what the agreement says. It gets people together for, most likely, the first time. Why is this important? If there are differences of opinion on what means “done,” then this is the perfect opportunity to resolve this before moving forward. Also, get to know who will be signing off on features, or who will be building them!
Leaves a paper trail:
Throughout the project, you may need to look back at high level project goals, personas, or project constraints that were decided in the kickoff to keep everyone on the same page.
Creating an inception deck after a kickoff may seem optional, but to us here at DF it is one of the best ways to ensure success. While some people opt to have these meetings via phone or video conference, Digital Foundry makes it a point to hold these meetings in person, creating a stronger relationship between all parties involved.
While there are a number of ways to manage a project, Digital Foundry has found that an Agile methodology aligns well with our core values of work, play, evolve. The small teams engaging in constant communication allow relationships (work and play) to be formed, ensuring the highest quality product is delivered. The iterative process allows for flexibility (evolve), prohibiting delays in development.
As we move into 2017, good luck managing your digital initiatives and, if you need help from an outside team, please give us a call!