Tag Archives: agile

Delib goes agile(r)

Back in May Rowena posted about her experiences at Blue Light Camp and noted that she is a qualified Scrum Master. In fact, we have three Scrum Masters in our team, but how do new Delibbers (like me) fit in to a lean, agile structure?

Simple, we get trained. Recently, a few Delib employees were trained by agile guru Paul Goddard of Agilify, along with some of our friends from Aardman and Mobile Pie, as well as some Team Rubber colleagues.

Agile is a set of practices which aim to make teams deliver better work, faster, and in doing so make our clients happier. In the past year, Delib has grown rapidly, and has incorporated people with no prior agile experience. Many businesses use older, more established methodologies, because this is what they are used to. But are industrial revolution era practices really applicable to small, nimble digital media companies?

One of the core agile principles is continuous delivery of valuable software. This means that we don’t work for a year and then give our customers a large number of new features while crossing our fingers that they like them. Instead, we deliver “pioneer” features to some customers, and get feedback regularly before releasing them to our whole user base.

Paul illustrated the benefits of this with a seemingly simple exercise – taking a bunch of spaghetti, some rope and some sellotape, who can build the highest structure which can hold a marshmallow on top? The winning team was the one which tested whether their tower could hold the marshmallow after every change, and the losers built a huge tower which promptly fell down right at the end when the marshmallow was placed on top.

Adam with his spaghetti tower with a marshmallow on top
I tried not to look too smug after a comprehensive victory

We’ve returned roaring with enthusiasm, and ready to deliver our clients even more top-notch software and services. Our customers’ satisfaction will continue to be our highest priority day in, day out, and not the marshmallow under which our towers collapse at a crucial moment.

Awesome Citizen Space version 1.6.2 new features now out!

Citizen Space 1.6.2 has just been released with some really awesome new features. This is part of our commitment to keeping Citizen Space constantly improving and evolving with the ever-changing times.

Both current and future clients can now benefit from a range of new features, including these two great additions worth explaining in detail:

1) Generated graphical PDF reports

All Quick Consult consultations now include an extra link on the consultation dashboard to create a summary report in PDF format. Citizen Space administrators have the option to create a report which can be used to both track open consultations’ progress or provide a quick and easy to use summary report of closed consultations’ outcomes.

We are really excited about this new feature and have already been chatting to our current clients about some of the potential benefits and use cases. The analysis of results and subsequent consultation feedback loop back to the public can now be much quicker and easier. For example reports can be generated quickly for a meeting with stakeholders and policy makers to review/assess progress.

  • For questions where respondents can select at most one answer, such as radio buttons or a drop down, a pie chart is displayed:

  • For questions where respondents can select more than one answer, such as checkboxes, a bar chart is displayed:

2) Mailing list sign up for Quick Consult respondents

Respondents can now have the option to opt-in to a mailing list once they have completed a response. The email list can then be exported and used to keep respondents informed on consultation outcomes and results. The email address opt-in feature can be enabled on a per-consultation basis to ensure that it is only used on relevant consultations.

The text above the email opt-in option can be easily edited by the administrator to ensure that respondents will know how their email address will be used.

It is possible to view the number of email signups at any stage of the consultation on the dashboard without needing to download the list.

We also included continuous improvements across the app that many of our users will no doubt appreciate; such as a nice bright ‘Jump to a page’ bar on the ‘view response’ page:

For more information on Citizen Space or to request a demonstration please contact one of our Team on 0845 638 1848.

5 Ways We Ensure Quality

Software testing or quality assurance is an area of our work which is often completely invisible to our clients. It is however a vital part of our production process, essential in giving us the confidence we need when we make a new release of one of our apps. I’m going to try and give you an overview of how we do this without going too deeply into the technical detail.

Test early and often
Delib have a strong belief that where possible quality should be built in throughout the development life cycle rather than tested in at the end of a project. This is an important part of the agile development process which we use when making our apps. We test what we do, whether it’s design, code, or documentation, early and often so that defects are found while the work is still fresh in people’s minds and before the defects can become too deeply embedded in the software.

Minimise variation
Any customisation of the software introduces variation which needs to be tested and maintained for every version of the app. Lean manufacturing has taught us that by minimising variation and developing apps which work for people out of the box we can reduce costs and more thoroughly test what we make, increasing the value of what we do for our clients. We recommend to our clients that they avoid paying us to customise our apps when possible so that we can provide them with the most cost efficient solution.

Build in flexibility
Where there is a common need for the same customisation from lots of clients we try to allow for this by building flexibility into the system. This limited and known variation can be accounted for when testing and does not add a huge cost overhead to our development process, while at the same time allowing our clients to change the things they need to.

Use great tools
Tools like Selenium and Jenkins enable us to run automated tests on our apps to ensure that any changes we make don’t break the existing features which our clients rely on. We continually make use of these tools throughout our development cycle.

Try out new ideas
We are always eager to learn about anything which might help us increase the quality and value of what we produce. Moving from the specification driven waterfall development model to the more flexible agile methodology was a big change for us, but adopting lean production methods is the thing that has given us the largest benefits.

What techniques do you use to improve quality? We would love to hear your tips and suggestions.