Quantifying the value of what you are trying to address is key to establishing how to plan your product roadmap.
A key exercise our discovery agency conducts at the beginning of any project is to undertake value pointing between stakeholders and developers.
Agile estimation cards between stakeholders help to scrutinise each feature of a product. A stakeholder secretly scores each feature’s value out of 100, in terms of its importance. When the cards are revealed, stakeholders can then see the importance others have placed on the feature. Discussions then take place to understand the differences.
The aim of this exercise is to align view points and come to a consensus. We then use agile methodologies to prioritise the high value features.
Understand your constraints
By establishing your constraints, we can prioritise the biggest risks and assumptions and work on solving these risks in the alpha stage.
6B helps you to identify how to mitigate such constraints in a way that provides real value to your users and stakeholders.
Other constraints are softer, and can be managed through a change of system or process. Looking at similar products and competitors and seeing how they overcame such issues can often be a crucial part of our work.
As well as these wider constraints, 6B carries out an iron triangle assessment, which aims to address the cost, scope and time of any project. This provides a transparent viewpoint on how we expect your product to develop.
Why do agile methodologies allow this process to work?
Agile methodology provides the most efficient route to ensuring 6B delivers a product that informs, educates and delights.
Agile methods allow us to adapt to any changes while the service or product is being built.
Another popular methodology is the waterfall approach. While this sequential methodology works well on projects such as construction projects, its effectiveness diminishes when external circumstances can affect your services. By launching a product at the end of the project lifecycle, the service may no longer meet your users needs, or be incompatible with new technologies.
What should happen by the end of the Discovery phase?
By the end of the Discovery phase, 6B and your organisation will have produced a scope of works document, with a clear view of how your product should be developed. Beyond this, the working document will grow over time as more ideas are iterated and developed.
We will have gathered your requirements and created a detailed technical specification that outlines exactly how your product will function, how data flows, data analytics and how users interact with it.
Through high level architecture, data flow diagrams and low fidelity wireframes, we will outline how we will design and build an app, website, system or other product, utilising lean and efficient methodologies.
During Discovery, we will have identified problems collaboratively that require solutions and we work together to build and test those solutions during Alpha.
Alpha should also be spent exploring new approaches as well building rapid prototypes and testing ideas.
We begin by establishing the team that will conduct the Alpha test.
We will appoint a service owner who will oversee this stage. There are many roles that can be set up at this stage, including a product manager, delivery manager, user researchers, content designers, UI/UX designers, developers, a technical lead, a technical architect, quality assurance managers and a performance analyst.
By the end of Alpha, the aim is to establish which approach provides the best solution, so that we can take it onto Beta.
Prototyping & Data Feedback
Once the team is agreed and in place, it is time to develop ideas and create prototypes.
Through testing, our discovery agency identifies what potential problems there may be with a solution such as bugs, vulnerabilities, legislative issues and other elements.
Through agile sprints, we can iterate ideas and feed back to stakeholders using the data that has been gathered during this process, while other elements of your project can still be developed.
Tackling the biggest and riskiest issues often represents the next stage in the process. For example, building an API that integrates with existing systems may take precedence.
6B develops prototypes and solutions that aim to solve the whole problem for a user. Our solutions are future proofed and scalable, allowing for developments to be undertaken without a fundamental solution overhaul. Our practical engineering team of consultants, architects and DevOps utilise an Agile development process to listen to your objectives and challenge constraints quickly and flexibly.
Understanding your user journey and constraints will help 6B and your organisation identify improvements that can be undertaken later in the development process.
Discovery should not just be about how a product is developed in the present – it should be about how that product can grow in the future.
6B’s Technical Architects aim to ask questions before developers need to ask them later down the product journey, which would add time to your build. We set out a roadmap with ideas that can be refined into a minimum viable product.
Scoping, Data & Constraints
Scoping is a crucial aspect of the Alpha stage. If a product scope is too broad, it will not be obvious which problem you are trying to solve. If it is too narrow, the user’s problem will not be overcome and they will not receive the outcome they need.
6B analyses user journeys to establish where your product sits on the user roadmap. This work often includes other organisations and channels your users may be involved with.
A crucial aspect of Alpha is establishing any constraints, and how to deal with them in the long and short term.
This is a good stage to identify if user data can be reused. Often, data will have been inputted already by a user for a similar service, so using this data again means that users are not required to re-input this information. Checks will need to be made to ensure there are no policy, trust or legal reasons as to why data cannot be shared.
Quality Assurance & Testing
6B follows a strict internal Quality Assurance and test-driven development process in Alpha.
Developer debugging includes code execution path examination and stylistic error fixing.
Prototype testing is where we test defined lists of inputs and verify outputs against expected outcomes.
We also carry out unit testing to maintain your code health and find any further errors.
Automated integration testing ensures stable infrastructure if your product needs to integrate with another system.
User Acceptance Testing evaluates prototypes for compliance through iterative testing and feedback, which includes exploratory and real-world scenarios.
Accessibility testing allows us to ensure everybody can use the service regardless of whether users have impairments with vision, hearing, mobility, thinking and understanding and people with low levels of digital knowledge or poor reception.
A/B testing allows single elements to be tested to see how certain pages are responding. Quick and easy changes can then be made while the test is running.