How we work

The way we work is based on decades of action research and practical software engineering.  To understand the thinking that went into it, please see our Lessons learned.

diagram

Inception

This stage is led by one of our conceptual prototyping specialists. The team is multi-disciplinary involving stakeholders from all  parts of your business, as well as our Business Analysts, Business Process Engineers and leaders from the Design and Build stages.

Working with your leadership team, strategic and business analysis are combined with market and User research to develop a 'Root Definition' for the project, This 1-2 page document encapsulates all its key elements, and is pinned to the wall in every meeting to ensure everyone stays focused on the vision.

Key user and business requirements are prioritised and translated into red-route user journeys that inform the design.

We use pens and whiteboards, combined with design thinking techniques, to generate a number of concepts, with key screens, that drive a solution - the thinking becomes concrete at this early stage.

Working with you, we model a number of these concepts in Axure RP Pro for iterative testing based on Lean and/or UCD techniques such as: guerilla usability testing, user cost-benefit analysis and focus group research,

Based on the test data, we select, integrate and evolve these concepts into a single inception model. This encapsulates the software's scope, its key features and the principles on which it will work. At this point all the stakeholders clearly understand and agree the conceptual solution.

We typically spend about 5% of the budget on this stage. This is a core feature of our left-shift thinking whereby we identify problems soon when they are much cheaper and quicker to fix, and ensure there is one vision across the stakeholders - this investment will more than pay for itself downstream.

Design

This stage is led by one of our design team but heavily involves your Product Owners. We take the inception model and seamlessly evolve it into the Design Model using Axure RP Pro.

The model is highly realistic being hi-fidelity and either defining or applying your corporate brand style guide.

The 'red-route' use journeys are modelled in much more detail so that they can be optimised through stakeholder feedback and user testing, using Lean and/or UCD techniques.

Key design patterns are captured using Axure's powerful library functions, so that they can be reused in both the Design and Build stages. This makes the software inherently more usable and efficient to produce.

Key members from the Build team ensure that design is viable/optimal from a technical architecture perspective. This also allows the technical team to upskill on key technologies that they know will be required in the Build stage.

The Design model typically consumes 5-15% of the budget. This is expensive because you will know very accurately what you will get at the end, how much it will cost, how long this will take, and how we will build the software. This is like waterfall in that the Design model is 'signed off' before entering the Build stage. But unlike traditional waterfall, the model is concrete and unambiguous so the vision is clear to all stakeholders!

Build

This stage is led by one of our “Agile PMs” supported by a Dev Lead.

We take the Axure design model and break it down into 2-4 week sprints. This is all done within the same Axure project so are no translation errors and everyone is working on the same page - literally!

Each sprint is modelled and documented using Axure's powerful, multi-user, annotation and diagramming tools, in sufficient detail that it can unambiguously coded. This may include exception handling, edge cases and content.

Our experienced dev teams then code directly from the Axure file, a very rare skill in the world of software engineering.

This method retains the coding efficiencies of Agile, but, rework is minimal because the holistic design and technical architecture was validated and fixed in the Design stage,

We capture and address bugs in UAT using Axure's screen capture, annotation and stakeholder feedback tools.

Of course, requirements charges and unforeseen technical challenges are inevitable on large complex bespoke software projects, so there will be some changes at the build stage, but our experience is that the final software produced will be a circa 90% fit with what was envisaged and the build stage is highly efficient due to the minimal ambiguity and maximum stability built into the reeax method.

A few of our customers

tripadvisor
VISA
IBM
KPMG
Roche
E.ON

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