By gene | Thu, 09/25/2014 - 17:00
Here at Cheeky Monkey Media we are constantly looking for ways to improve our processes and ways to ensure our clients get what they need with the least amount of surprises.
Our project process has evolved rapidly over the last year as we’ve transitioned from just monkey muscle for hire to a full service shop focusing on our own clients. We’ve been lucky enough to see how some of the biggest shops out there handle projects and have learned a few hard fought lessons of our own along the way.
In project management there have been two types of project management style:
- Waterfall: a sequential design process, used in software development process, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards through (typically) 7 stages.
- Agile: a group of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.
We realized early on that there were pro’s and con’s to both of these styles and were able to adapt our process to be a hybrid of these two project management styles. We refer to this system as ScrumFall.
We don’t live in a world where clients have unlimited budgets so we’ve had to ensure we keep a strong hold on project scope, while still providing flexibility and deploying work quickly.
When a new project gets started here at Cheeky Monkey Media there are 3 high level stages it goes through:
- Discovery and Planning
Discovery and Planning
We don’t just throw a thousand monkeys on keyboards at a project - hoping to get something amazing as result - without first properly identifying exactly what it is the client thinks they need, and most importantly, defining the WHY. This phase of our process includes a lot of meetings, conversations, emails and Google Hangouts - going back and forth with the client until we have a clear picture of the WHY and what it all entails.
Common deliverables a client may get during this process would be:
- Card sort
- Home page design
- Standard page design
- Detailed scope breakdown
- Project charter
It is not uncommon to reach the end of the discovery and planning phase to realize what is needed is not the same as what was originally scoped.
At the end of the discovery and planning stages we work with the client to set the final scope for the development phase. Many times this means defining a minimal viable product and a full featured product. We have found that if it is possible to provide a minimal viable product (MVP), the clients are happier as they get their new site or product out to the public much sooner than were they to wait for all the features to be ready.
At the end of our planning phase, we are able to have all the requirements broken down into individual tickets which are then assigned to our development teams to construct the product for the client. With having these individual tickets broken down we are able to organize them into sprints. A sprint is defined as a set amount of features to be completed within a specific time frame. For Cheeky Monkey Media, we work in two week sprints.
The life of our sprints consist of the following activities:
- Sprint planning meeting
Through each sprint, the project manager ensures the client is kept up to date with weekly status reports; and, at the end, the team does a demonstration of the new features that were developed during the sprint.
As the project proceeds, the client can make the decision to launch the sprint as the minimal viable product or to wait for further development.
Launching the project is one of the most exciting and nerve wracking experiences we get to go through. It’s the first time the public is seeing the new work and that carries a number of questions: will they like it, will the servers hold up under stress, is someone going to find something we all missed? …argh!
With any launch of a new site or product there are always the first week jitters - working out issues in production, emergency feature tweaks that are identified - but by the end of that first week, things are typically running smoothly.
As it says at the bottom of our launch checklist:
“The site has been launched and is now available for your customers, it is time to celebrate this first milestone.
- Celebrate with your favorite beverage
- Get arranged with your project manager for next round of features to add to the site”