The successful launch of a technology project is usually traceable to team alignment around a clear definition of the project goal from the beginning. Our discovery phase relies on the questions below to achieve that.
As with any Third Reef engagement, our first question is how the project affects your business' finances and other stakeholder concerns. Will this be a new revenue stream that increases your sales? Or does this project consolidate functionality from multiple expensive tools to enable cost reductions? Understanding the business drivers for the project helps frame every major decision during its implementation. What risks may affect these financial goals? How do competitors address similar projects?
Users, Goals, Roles.
Next, we want to learn as much as possible about the types of users/customers you intend to serve, and what problems or goals your project will address for them. We conduct research and mapping exercises to understand their environment and the way they behave so that we can design a solution that best envisions a future in which their goals are met.
User stories & acceptance criteria.
We collaborate with you to write user stories and acceptance criteria, which will form the backbone of the requirements that we deliver upon completion of the project. You'll empathize with your users to express their needs in the form of stories, and create a strict definition of how those needs are met as acceptance criteria. These will form the backlog used by developers to build your project, and will later be used to validate their work against your expectations.
Now that a clear picture of user needs has been laid out, we give structure to the logical elements required to fulfill the acceptance criteria corresponding to each story. For content management projects, this begins with a thorough evaluation of the content you've got, what you're able to produce, and the structure of that content. For all projects, a model of the logical structures and their relationships is essential, as are flow diagrams describing the way in which state changes occur among them.
With an understanding of users' needs and the specifics of how to meet them, we can begin sculpting your project. The first and most critical step is wireframing the critical paths along the permutations of user journeys. When users are able to see and interact with clickable prototypes to try out workflows, they are able to confirm the path we are taking for development, and highlight any misunderstandings at the soonest possible point. All corrections are propagated back through the preceding steps, and everyone leaves this stage with a firm understanding of what we're building. Once the wires are in solid shape, we agree on prioritization of building them, which forms our initial timeline.
At this stage, we'll frame out your house. We determine the appropriate cloud architecture to accommodate the anticipated volume of business at launch, with capacity for some growth. We make recommendations on specific technical approaches for various aspects of your project in order to accommodate non-feature related goals, such as sharing of code or integration with external systems. These recommendations ensure that where implementation decisions are not cut and dry, expertise and experience are applied to ensure desired results.
After this initial phase of a technology engagement, you have a well-defined blueprint that could be taken to any competent software development shop for implementation. This gives you an opportunity to evaluate whether you want to undertake the project in light of a more concrete understanding of the time and budget involved. If the business case for the project remains compelling, we can quickly transition our expertise from analysis to agile, sprint-based implementation in a variety of best-of-breed technologies.
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