Team toolkit

Working on a project with a mix of in-house staff, individual contractors, an embedded team from an external supplier and a UX consultancy was always going to be a bit of a challenge. While the majority of us were co-located which helped with communication that wasn’t 100% and without a shared email system or file system things could have been a bit clumsy.

To avoid this we tried to settle on ‘cloud’ based software to help smooth the edges of team communication and keep track of things. Not all of it was 100% successful but as with everything on this project it was a useful experience.

An early decision – in place even before the ‘alpha’ was agreed – was made to do any development in the open on Github. This has worked well and we are now additionally moving to using Github Issues as our bug tracking tool for the project. A plan to make use of Github pages to share project updates and thinking was shelved pretty early as there wasn’t a clear reason to use that instead of this, already established, WordPress blog.

For user stories we started out using the brilliant Trello. This worked well and has a lot of benefits but the reality was that with the majority of us working in close quarters in the Newport office we soon resorted to handwritten index cards or quickly typed cards and a physical Kanban wall. For the Beta though I think we will revisit Trello as it gives us a bit more structure and management information (when used with the right Chrome extensions).

This blog has been our main communication channel for people outside of the project team – internal and external to the organisation. It is interesting how many people have been interested in the blog and I have had a number of requests from other teams to help them set up their own. In the new year we are going to extend the remit of this blog to cover the entire (new) Division which should be interesting.

The primary (live) file repository for the project has been provided by Huddle. To be honest this isn’t the most elegant tool to use and it was frequently frustrating from a UX point of view. However it has been useful as somewhere to share and record documentation and, in particular, wireframes. It was especially useful during the early stages of the project, especially the Discovery stages, but has become less important over time.

The glue that has held the project together has really been Slack. The team chat application with a nice line in integrations with other web tools has been crucial in the smooth running of the team. We have been using it in a pretty vanilla manner considering how flexible it is but the ease of use, reliability and quality of the mobile applications have made it invaluable. The ubiquitous nature of the tool does make it a bit difficult to switch off from the project it has to be said but it has certainly allowed us to keep the conversations going no matter what public transport team members are stuck on and ensure that decisions are taken, and recorded, in a timely manner.

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