Projects run best when all parties remain open and honest at all times. We like to speak plainly and speak our minds, and we’ll tell you if we think your app idea is simply not going to work, or if we’re falling behind schedule, or if a key team member has become ill and withdrawn from the project. We hire good people. Our culture is warm and fresh, and we are in many ways an extended family. We speak from the heart, tempered by deep understanding of our domain. The first pillar of transparency is the fact that we will be honest with you, because we can and because we care.
We use 5 tools to maintain transparency:
Open communication is more than just a philosophy; it is baked into all our policy and practices. Things happen during the course of a project and we know through solid experience that the best way to get through the hard times is to just lay it all out, keep working away at the problems and make certain we keep up constant communication through the good times and the bad. So we have policies about reporting problems, prioritising and escalating critical tasks, and follow up communication of progress and resolution. Policy is the second pillar of transparency.
The third pillar is process. We talk more about Scrum in the topic why we are agile; our agile methodologies dictate specific events including sprint planning, retrospectives, review and daily stand-ups. There are rules governing these events, including who may participate and required talking points. We encourage our clients to be involved in the sprint process, and a fortnightly meeting is strongly recommended.
The fourth pillar is access. Our communication policies encourage direct contact between stakeholders; clients may wish to communicate directly with developers or designers or QA or anyone else related to their work. We only put a small caveat on this to say that the account manager must be kept in the loop on communication please so they can properly manage their projects!
Finally, we have systems to ensure transparency. Basecamp provides public access to all invited parties; you can have private conversations there but that doesn’t happen a lot, and generally anyone involved in the project can speak to a point and receive a response from anyone else. Email, Skype, WhatsApp and other tools are less transparent, so we have policies that account managers must summarize significant meetings, calls and other communication in Basecamp.
Internally we use project management software called Atlassian JIRA for issue tracking and timesheets, and we may provide access to this tool to some clients. JIRA is where the project team live and breathe; we use it to track all client projects, and many of our internal tasks as well. JIRA is very much a rough tool though, it’s not pretty and it’s not always intuitive. So whilst we don’t always grant JIRA access, we will consider and offer this access to clients with good technical knowledge and experience with similar systems, which means you can see that work items are raised, assigned, progressed, discussed and closed in real time, and with full visibility of time spent on tasks, and timesheet reports throughout the entire project.
We delve deeper into our processes in the next topic, and discuss what to expect when you engage Dapper Apps.