Every great design and development team knows that following a well-documented process leads to better products.
This was an area we focused on when we first opened our doors.
For the past several years, we have been working to develop a better agile process. We revised everything from how our designers and developers work together to how we communicate feature updates, bug fixes and deployments to our clients.
During this time, we found our biggest pain point as a company was client communication. While we talk with our clients on a day-to-day basis, most of the conversations revolve around smaller pieces of a bigger puzzle. We struggled for many years as a company to keep our clients up to date with a comprehensive list of our weekly accomplishments.
We wanted to fix this issue and become better at providing our clients with insight and knowledge of our progress. Last year, we set out to create a new tool to address this problem. We are pleased to introduce Roundup today.
Roundup collects data from various project management sources and relays these updates to our clients via email and Slack once a week.
Being an agile development firm, we work in either one- or two-week sprints. We plan each sprint out a week prior to beginning development. This is a collaborative process between our clients / stakeholders and our designers / developers.
The end goal of this planning meeting is to align both teams about what work is currently in progress and what work is on deck. We have found that this process keeps our roadmap unblocked while also allowing us to provide incremental value to a product at a faster rate.
So what is Roundup and how do we use it?
As stated earlier in this post, Roundup pulls data from various third-party applications, formats the data into an easy-to-read email, and automates weekly updates to the users of your choice.
As avid Trello fans, we create a new board for each project we work on. This board consists of seven lists:
- Upcoming Sprint
- Current Sprint
- Completed This Week
Each list serves a specific purpose and allows us to organize our user stories for future iterations.
The bug list contains user stories that deal directly with issues the product is currently facing. We consider these stories high priority and slot them first before adding any new user stories to a sprint. Additionally, this list is used to fill in gaps when a sprint's work is completed, but there is still additional time in the work week.
This list contains user stories that need additional exploration and details before being placed into the backlog or slotted for a sprint. They serve as notes for our clients and ourselves. While we might not be ready to develop the feature, we can keep a running dialog for future conversations.
The backlog list contains user stories that need to be slotted for a sprint. These features have been vetted, discussed and deemed necessary for future iterations of the product.
The upcoming sprint list contains user stories that are on deck. These stories have been pulled from the backlog during our weekly or bi-weekly planning meetings with our clients. Besides bugs, these are the next set of high-priority features.
Plain and simple, these are the stories we, as a team, are working on. The work being done may be design work or it could be development. Both our designers and developers work in sprints.
Completed This Week
This list contains stories of what have we finished since the start of the work week. This list is crucial to Roundup's success. It must be maintained and checked each day. This board reflects all of the work we have finished for our client during a given work week.
This list contains all of the user stories we have completed for our client since the start of the project.
Once our lists are set, we can integrate Roundup into our project flow. How do we do this? Simple. Launch Roundup, create a new client and project or add a new project to an existing client. Edit the project's settings and set our Trello lists to pull our data from the correct lists.
After these are set, Roundup gives you the option to set users who will receive an email each week and or add a Slack room that will receive an automated message.
That's it. It's a fairly simple process to send automated messages of our team's weekly progress.
This tool has helped keep our clients up to date on our weekly progress, what's currently being worked on, and where our attention will focus next.
If you are interested in trying this tool, we are currently accepting beta requests at Roundup. Take a look. Give it a try. Hopefully it helps your team as much as it has helped ours.