Project work in progress – Part 1: From pitch to sprint 0

As we’ve been working on a particularly interesting project this year, we thought we’d try and capture what we did this time around, and how we felt the process went so we — and maybe you — can learn something from it. In order to maintain client confidentiality we’ll be referring to this as ‘project work in progress’.

With projects like this — where the end product is aimed at a complex, diverse audience — there’s usually a long list of requirements to cover. To design and build a really effective, innovative solution that perfectly suits the needs of the users; we have to do a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work before we even begin thinking about what the website will look like and how it will function.

In this blog, I’ll be talking about the important work we’ve been doing to make sure we’re fully prepped and ready to start the design process for this project.

What we did

To begin with, our Strategy team conducted detailed research to identify the audiences, their key motivations and what we could do for them. Based on this information, we then asked client representatives for each audience group to tell us what they thought their users needed, and what the business needs from them.

On the back of this, we put together various workshops for audience groups where we could directly ask them questions and get their point of view on what they were looking for. We then interviewed specialists for more niche areas to gather the technical information we needed.

We also took the decision to accept spreadsheets of requirements from anyone within the client business who was unable to attend sessions, or who felt they had more requirements we hadn’t captured. Finally, we took all the information we’d gathered together and processed it into a list in the product backlog which we prioritised with the client.

In the meantime, we’d been exploring creative concepts and also getting the infrastructure and technical foundations of the project right.

Backed by all this relevant research and data, we were confident that we have all the resources we needed to move into solution design for the first sprint — and we couldn’t wait to get started!

What we learned

In this case, the workshops gave us especially fantastic results, as we were able to identify similar themes, discuss together and capture unique requirements. We never underestimate the importance of talking directly to end users here at Code, so this often plays a key part in our research work.

At the other end of the scale, accepting the requirements spreadsheets and collating the submitted data created a huge amount of work as we had to identify duplicates, rewrite points into the right format, and spend time chasing the client to clarify any unknowns. As such, we will definitely try to avoid this step if possible in the future.

We now have a product backlog, initial creative concepts and technical architecture. Next time, I’ll be talking about our next stage in the process: collaborative solution design.