Blog 53

We’re often asked about our approach and process when it comes to delivering projects. We’ve even noticed that, sometimes, knowing this early on helps potential clients understand what to expect from us. This is an overview of how we approach our work and manage projects.

Our approach to project delivery

We actually have two approaches. One begins with a Discovery workshop. This is meant for those clients that already know what they want their project to be and need to find out what its development would entail before they commit to us. We’ve blogged about our Discovery approach and why it’s useful for some businesses before.

Discovery usually includes a detailed set of requirements, a documented technical approach, product validation, a project plan and firm pricing, so you’re aware of every little detail well ahead of development. This also means there are no hidden costs, surprises or missed details. If you’re happy with the plan, the work can begin and the team will work according to the agreed plan and approach set out in the Discovery.

The other approach is for clients that don’t have a set plan or requirements for their product and prefer to work in a more agile, iterative way. This also works for us really well. This means we can deliver regular value by helping you order and develop your product backlog, in two-week sprints of work. Once a sprint has started, we work with you to ensure the next two-week sprint is ready to start as soon as the current one is complete. This allows you to change direction easily and ensure we deliver regular value. This approach enables us to work in a more collaborative manner with you and is an effective way of delivering a product roadmap.

For example, we already do this for our clients - evestor and Betfred. evestor is a fintech company that reached out to us to work in partnership with their internal development teams to help accelerate and get their product where they want it to be faster. Whereas, Betfred is our longstanding client that we work with to enhance their mobile products.

How do we communicate with clients?

We communicate our progress to clients every day and produce demos of the work every fortnight. We then do a retrospective review to make sure we take note of what can be improved. As we deliver small chunks at a time, it’s easier to merge them into the core product without having to disrupt it.

At Degree 53, there’s full transparency between our clients and the team. We create a shared Google site with all documents and project information embedded to ensure maximum transparency. We hold scrums every day with our teams to track progress, raise issues and prevent any problems from escalating. It might be difficult to visualise working this way, as there’s no set deadline other than the commitment to deliver two weeks of work and it may be a risk for some, but we’ve done short engagements to trial this approach and proven how this can work. For example, with one of our clients, we started with an initial engagement of three sprints, which was later extended to nine months. We’ve proven ourselves to our client, because we continuously delivered value to them.

Why these approaches?

All digital agencies have different approaches to delivering work and it takes time to develop a method that works for the clients and the business. A lot of it depends on the agency structure and their capacity to handle projects of different sizes. As some products or businesses change so quickly, shorter periods of development are better suited to address that.

Both of our approaches have the same team structure and start off in a similar way. We have Business Analysts that work with you ahead of each sprint to define work for the development. We also assign dedicated Project Managers to look after the progress and manage the team. The QA is involved on both project types to make sure there are no errors and everything works smoothly.

We also include UX and Design in the process. As well as using our in-house UX and Design experts, we can work with external design teams (client-side or third-party). When working with external design teams, we have a clear definition of what’s required for development, which we provide to make sure progress isn’t stalled. We agree the terms with the design team in advance to make sure we can deliver our work effectively and give the customer what they want. This helps to avoid surprises along the way.

What happens at the end of the project?

Once our QA team has signed off that the product quality meets the requirements or acceptance criteria, the project goes into User Acceptance Testing (UAT) for you to test and make sure you’re happy with it. We then facilitate the production release, followed by a period of warranty.

To guarantee new projects go live smoothly, we can also take care of deployments and setting up cloud infrastructure. We have experts in Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to house databases and digital products. We manage the whole production setup and deployment process. We advise and set up the best possible solution for your needs to allow for scalability and growth of user base. Essentially, we take away the hassle of managing hosting and infrastructure if you don’t have the expertise, or desire to manage physical servers in-house. It can be expensive and needs scale reviewing over time, so some of our clients prefer us to do the heavy lifting. For apps, we can handle all app store submissions and provide the necessary documentation and files for a successful submission.

We’ve recently introduced our IT Service Delivery function to provide support and maintenance for those that need help post-warranty. They support live products of our clients with dedicated people and tools to ensure peace of mind and support whenever they need anything.

Part of our project management process also includes a retrospective review for everyone involved in the project. It’s an internal practice to review how everything went, what was good and what areas we need to work on to reduce any drawbacks. This helps our team learn and develop, as well as improving our quality of work for future projects.

If you'd like to discuss our approach further, get in touch and we'll be happy to give you more information.

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