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What a Difference a Year Makes

dshelley February 22, 2011

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Thinking back to a year ago, our team was only four and a half months into working with Agile. This came with a focus on usability. We hadn’t had any formal Agile training, and we were learning with every step we took. As you can read in my last post, we dropped our enhancement and bug tracking tools and went completely manual. From a product standpoint, we had a home screen. We could view an individual. We had system announcements. Along with a few mock ups, that was it!

So, one year later… where are we? In simple terms, we have come a long way baby! We are still growing in our Agile movement, but we have really grown. Not only have we matured in this process, but so has our product.

One of the main differences is getting our team to think from the user’s point of view. All of our development is completed from a user story. Not only do we learn from our clients what they need, we truly communicate with them. All members of the team share the user’s perspective and benefit from it. They understand who the user is, what they are trying to accomplish, and WHY!

Conversation, conversation, conversation is critical. The story evolves and clarifies through each of several conversations. This is the key to the success of Agile. Who knew?

We have moved back into the technology age and are now using a tool set to manage the stories from inception to “done done.” No more yellow stickies, markers, and sticky tac. For some it was hard to see them go; for others, they rejoiced. As for me, I am glad not to be shuffling paper mock ups and designs across my desk any longer.

We now have over a dozen serious administrative tools in place, a robust groups module, exhaustive and customizable user profiles with several layers of security, fully flexible permissions, change logs, a clean and new highly usable interface, privacy preferences, two search options with drop-down graphical abstracts so users can quickly find the records they need, all documented in a Wiki. Well, the list goes on.

In the spirit of Agile, we continue to change and grow as a team. I am looking forward to this year and seeing what difference it makes.

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