Feb 12 2015

How we do agile and lean development projects in our web agency

At S8080 we like to keep things lean and we like to get things done. How exactly do we like to get things done? By sticking to some key principals taken from Prince2 and Agile (why limit yourself to only one project management methodology!)

After the client alignment, UX and creative phase, we’ll have a big kick off session. This ensures that everyone on the team knows the end goal, how it can be achieved and their role in achieving that goal.

User stories and the agile wall

Once all is understood and all questions asked, the team will plan out the project by creating user stories, these are simply cards that contain a specific story, or goal. For example one story may be “As a student, I want to be able to view all books available”. Once all stories have been built up, the team as a whole will estimate how long each story will take to complete.

With all the stories created and work estimated, the team place the cards up onto the Agile wall. Think of the Agile wall as a huge ‘to-do’ list.

As the team work on a story they will pass through several stages from the ‘backlog’ to being ‘accepted / completed’. To ensure this process runs smoothly, the teams will have a quick 5-10 minute stand up in the morning, at these stand ups the team will work though any problems or ‘blockers’ that are stopping them from working.

Iterative approach and sprints

We keep our clients well informed by showcasing our work to date at the end of every iteration / sprint. This is a great opportunity to gather feedback early on in the development process, instead of the big reveal at the end. We couple these showcases with a weekly report, which contains contains a general status, dependencies, risks and any issues.

At the end of each sprint, we will perform a retrospective, this is the opportunity for the team as a whole to suggest how we can make improvements for the next iteration – and usually demolish a pack or two of Welsh cakes.

Because some customers require a fixed scope, time and budget we also provide a Gantt chart, this will contain a detailed list of the functional outputs along with any user testing, security testing, UAT and other dependencies. If there is any additional work to be added to the scope, this is simply dealt with via a change request.

Our key take away points are:

  • Encourage team communication through daily stand ups
  • Encourage team organisation through visible Agile boards
  • Encourage early feedback from the client by introducing end of iteration showcases
  • Encourage team performance with end of iteration retrospectives

Sometimes agencies can get too clogged up in ‘how to do Agile development’ to the letter instead of finding a method that works for them, after all, not all clients, teams and companies are the same.