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The purpose of this guide is to provide the reader (that is you) with an insight into the agile way in which we work and some of the terminology you are likely to hear us use. Scrum, Kanban, MVP – we are about to explain it all in an easy to digest way.
Business requirements, user needs and technical specifications are elaborated as stories, and gathered into a backlog. We bring together the combined resources of product owners, business analysts, technical and data architects, user researchers, user experience designers, content designers and developers to furnish the backlog, and stories are periodically refined and updated to reflect changes in the real world. From the backlog we identify a series of minimum viable products to build; each MVP comprising a minimum set of features to satisfy growing numbers of customers. As each MVP is released, it provides invaluable customer feedback, and an opportunity to discover hidden opportunities and address customer concerns.
Project cycles are organised into two-week sprints and the team meets periodically to plan and prioritise deliverables for each sprint. Our planning focuses on producing deliverables that we can demonstrate to stakeholders at the end of each sprint cycle, keeping everyone informed of progress and direction of the project.
Users are actively engaged, and feedback is solicited to determine what user needs are being successfully delivered, and which we are failing to meet. Learning and adapting user feedback is central to our user experience design philosophy, and we plan our sprints so that user research and user experience design is always ahead of the development effort.
We manage the daily sprint using a hybrid of the scrum agile framework and the Kanban display system, colloquially known as scrumban. The scrum team meets for a short time at the beginning of each day to provide a progress update of the stories that each member is working on, and to flag impeding issues. The stories are displayed prominently on a Kanban board (physical or virtual), and each story progresses through various stages of completion during the spring cycle. With scrumban we begin every day knowing exactly what who is working on what, and any pinch points that need to be resolved.
Our sprints culminate in a show and tell gathering where teams share their work with the business and stakeholders. We invite the business and stakeholders to join us for thirty minutes to an hour and review what we’ve done. The goal of show and tell is to share in a transparent way the work that has been done in each sprint cycle, and to solicit feedback from the business and stakeholders. It is an opportunity to share insights and hypothesis, to surface ideas and reaffirm the vision and goals of the project.
As a team we’re always looking for ways to improve what we do. We ask ourselves how we can deliver better quality; how we can avoid making the same mistakes; how we can cultivate better communication and suffer fewer missed opportunities. At the end of each sprint cycle we meet to discuss our experiences in retrospective. We acknowledge the things that went well, and we address areas to be improved. We identify actions and outcomes with a plan to implement improvements at the earliest opportunity.