Agile and Scrum: Why Process Matters in Web Design

Ascedia’s team explains our processes and workflows to clients at the start of every project. In some cases, these discussions take place with prospects before the contract is signed. For some, the fact that Ascedia is an agile development organization and uses Scrum to manage its work is an important factor in the decision-making process. For others, it doesn’t matter how the work gets done as long as it comes in on time and under budget. But because agile and Scrum are such a big part of day-to-day life at Ascedia, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the way we work.

What Is Agile Development?

Let’s take a step back and consider how typical website redesign projects are structured. After going through initial discovery and strategy discussions, a creative team presents a few options for how the site will look and ways the content can be organized. The client chooses an option and development begins. The site is tested and then pushed live.

Traditional waterfall development has all of these stages happening once, in sequence. All of the features of the site must be defined up front, and that set of features is created during one long development cycle. At the end of development, a final site is ready for launch.

Agile development offers an alternative to this. Projects are broken into short development cycles called “sprints,” which include a specific set of features and functionality (also known as “user stories”). The same process is followed – creative, development, QA – but at the end of the short cycle, the site can be reviewed and adjustments can be made to the feature set while work continues on the next set of user stories. Scrum is a guiding set of processes that help us manage the development process. As a Project Manager (and Scrum Master), I use the tenets of Scrum to keep the lines of communication open between my team and other stakeholders, manage the day-to-day work and keep everyone focused.

Waterfall development gives a team only one chance to get a project right, whereas the shorter sprints that are built into the agile process provide a lot of opportunity to make improvements. It gives our team the chance to regularly review progress and get client and user feedback so that we are all on the same page and happy with the direction the work is going.

Why Does It Matter?

Internally, we see a lot of benefits from agile and Scrum. Our teams are more collaborative and less siloed. Even our office layout supports constant communication – teams sit in pods so they can discuss projects and help each other troubleshoot any issues that arise.
Our team has daily standups to discuss progress and roadblocks. These conversations help hold everyone accountable to their part of the project, while also creating an opportunity to shift workloads to help out teammates and keep the project moving.

Agile development gives our team the ability to be highly responsive to customer requests and changes. Because cycles are shorter, features are developed and delivered faster. Clients are able to see more of our work in earlier project stages, rather than waiting for a “big reveal” at launch time. This increases satisfaction in the end result.

This post has only begun to scratch the surface of agile and Scrum, so stay tuned for the next article in this series, where we’ll talk about sprints and iterations.

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