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.

Symbiote illustrations 17 18

Project principles

Get the project approach right

We chose the right methodology to suit the project.

Fundamental decision points include: Scope/Time/Budget fit and organisational agile experience. 

We love Scrum

Scrum is totally focussed on getting stuff done. As a framework, it encourages great communication, self organisation, collective learning from experience and continuous improvement.

Scrum is the perfect fit for a project with an outcome-focussed goal, with a flexible or shifting scope, in an organisation familiar with running Agile projects. For a team like ours where everyone's always learning and sharing, Scrum projects fit the bill perfectly.

Start strong

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

We test this understanding by asking tricky questions or posing possible scenarios so we have good conversations early. When we all understand what we're trying to achieve we get on with the work.

The goal here is a shared understanding of how each project is going to work, to avoid surprises. 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 project team will comprise different roles working across different 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 quickly as possible, we use tried and true processes to build real trust and ensure transparency from project kick off.

A vital first step involves working out what everyone needs to do their best work and support each other.

Run meetings that matter

Throughout the life of the project, it's essential to make sure ceremonies are useful and truly communicative: sprint planning that sets us up for success from the sprint start, concise stand ups, 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 with a set of deliverables that were articulated months, or even years ago. Instead, you can evolve with changes in the environment, customer insights and learnings from previous releases. 

Everyone learns, the environment changes, and the product evolves – for the better.

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 improve people's lives.

Testing is a huge part of the picture

Reliable, high-quality testing reduces risks around releases and enables us to deliver a quality product. Our testing avoids you and your customers having problems.

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

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

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

A motif of six squares arranged in a grid pattern with three squares on top and three squares on the bottom