Our Project Fundamentals

Published Jun 30, 2020, 12:30 PM
Written by Amanda Brown

We know successful projects involve a multitude of factors coming together to deliver amazing outcomes and taking a cookie cutter approach just doesn’t work.

Ways of Working

Our projects are built on great communication, strong relationships, expertise in every area, a shared understanding of what’s happening and ensuring the final product is the best quality and exceeds expectations. 

Whilst we don’t always follow the same script, there is an ethos to everything we do at Symbiote.

Here’s our fundamentals.

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Project Principles

Get the project approach right

Ensuring the methodology best suits the project is a key success factor. 

There are a couple of fundamental decision points here: Scope/Time/Budget fit and organisational agile experience. 

Scrum is the perfect fit for a project with an outcome-focussed goal but flexibility on the specifics of scope, in an organisation familiar with running agile projects. If there’s the need for a knowledge uplift that can easily be addressed - sharing on Scrum projects is all part of the fun. 

We love Scrum

It’s totally focussed on getting shit done. As a framework, it encourages great communication, self organisation, learning from experience together and continuous improvement.

Start strong

We agree on how things are going to work right up front, with everyone involved understanding why we’re here, how we’ll communicate, make decisions, know when work is ready and what the release process looks like.

We really test this understanding by asking tricky questions or putting up possible scenarios so that good conversations are happening early, a shared understanding is achieved and we can get on with the work.

The goal here is a true understanding of how this project is going to work by everyone on the project, so there will be no surprises later. This includes a shared understanding of:

  • The vision and the value the project will bring to end-users
  • Everyone's role on the team
  • Dependencies

Everything depends on the squad culture

We work hard to build rapport between the whole team as fast as possible. The mix of roles on a given project will be across multiple organisations and teams - so it's crucial we put in the time early to get everyone working together. 

To get to “we’re all in this together” as fast as possible, you need to build real trust and from project kick off have loads of transparency. Working out what everyone needs to do their best work and support each other is a vital first step too.

Run meetings that matter

Throughout the life of the project, making sure ceremonies are useful and truly communicative is a key factor: sprint planning that sets us up for success from the sprint start, stand ups that are concise, showcases that celebrate progress and share that progress with stakeholders and retros that are thorough and outcomes-focussed.

The roadmap is a powerful artefact, and it will change 

The product roadmap shows progression over time at a higher level, and how sprints will deliver on business priorities long term. 

That roadmap will and should change. Part of the power of agile is that you aren’t stuck to a set of deliverables that were articulated months, or even years ago - but are instead evolving to changes in the environment, customer insights and learnings from previous releases. 

You learn, the environment changes, and the product evolves - for the better - to suit.

UX is critical, all the time

From the initial deep understanding of customer needs informing product design, to regular usability testing, to “the user research says” in every ceremony - UX is embedded in the team at every step. 

This takes us from being a feature farm, to building solutions that make human lives better.

Testing is a huge part of the picture

Delivering a quality product through reliable, high-quality testing reduces risks around releases - reducing negative impacts to end users and increasing customer satisfaction.

Involving QA early and often drives rigor around requirements, acceptance criteria and delivery against those requirements. 

Our QA team works hard to find future efficiencies through automation and helping developers write more testable code.

Get to the business of delivering real, positive change - on the regular

All of the above comes together, so as quickly as possible we get down to building really useful services for end users. Regular release cycles mean improvements are delivered to customers fast, and further opportunities to learn and improve are captured.

Wrap Up

Setting up a project team with shared values, building a culture where everyone can do their best work, building amazing solutions users really want - all adds up to a powerful experience for everyone involved and the outcomes are extraordinary.

Hi, I'm Amanda

"At Symbiote we build digital services for government that directly provide benefits to citizens.

I am passionate about achieving the best possible outcomes and am proud to be able to spend my working effort putting this positive change out into the world."

Amanda Brown - Head of Strategy & Projects

Team member

Amanda Brown - Head of Strategy & Projects

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