Project Time Free

Project time, part 3.

The project developments of the last week or so have seen a marked increase in communication with the client. There has been more direct contact and more opportunity to collect feedback on builds than we've had so far. This is great, because collecting timely feedback is an essential part of performing iterative software development.

We've been running an agile development here at the office for the last two months, though only now, two months in, is the process really beginning to coalesce into something consistent and effective. We are now consistently pulling user stories from the notes generated at meetings with the clients. These stories have been uploaded into the Hansoft project backlog. The next logical step is to have a sit down meeting with selected individuals from the production, development, and art teams and conduct story breakdowns and task estimations. Once these estimates have been generated, the stories themselves can then be prioritized and committed to scheduled sprints as appropriate.

So right now we have three primary issues from a  production standpoint:

- Coordinating these sprint planning sessions can be difficult - we have key product owners scattered across multiple projects, working on different schedules, and located in separate areas of the office park. Convincing everyone of the benefits of having a dedicated sit-down meeting has been troublesome in the past. These difficulties are exacerbated by the fact that half of the production and design staff is down to about 60-70% capacity over the next three weeks due to on-site training. This will in turn make it difficult to maintain consistency in production methods across all relevant project teams. One of the new production staff is going to have to step up and coordinate these complex logistics if we plan on getting the process right this month.

- The initial release schedule remains fairly tight. The production and design teams have in the past only just managed to release builds by deadlines, in general lacking much of the QA and usability testing that we would like to see. The efficiency of the process isn't like to change dramatically in the absence of dedicated design staff. Functioning as designers, the production team will remain in the weeds for now.

- While feedback from the client has gotten better, communication with the client's test end-user group remains nonexistant. We have received neither feedback from the end-user nor afinal confirmation of release dates. Truth be told, there has been no indication that the end-user test group has received any of the builds that we have sent. Some effort will need to be made on behalf of the production staff to encourage better communication with the end-user test group in the future.

On the upside, monthly reviews went relatively well. The art team continues to do great work and the production team is still hanging in there. There's getting to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is looking less and less like a train.

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