Content sprinting – part two

The second part of digital officer Charlotte Brewer’s series on content sprinting. 

In my last blog post about the sprint way of working, introduced it as a concept and looked at how we did sprint planning. In this post, I’ll show what it’s like to do the work as part of the content team in a sprint.

Do the work 

Once the sprint planning meeting is over, we get stuck into the list of tasks.   

Each task is a specific, distinct thing that we need to do to complete the goal of the sprint. For our students’ Top Tasks sprint, these included:  

  • Draft a template invitation email 
  • Book rooms  
  • Contact an International Officer to get list of international students  
  • Email these students an invitation to a focus group 
  • Contact the Mature Student Adviser to get list of mature students  
  • Email these students an invitation to a focus group 
  • Collate a list of URLs across the website that answers students’ FAQs (spoiler: there is a lot of duplication) 

Once we finish one task, we move onto the next task. Some of these are small enough for one of us to easily complete it. Others are bigger and need us all to work on it at once. Some tasks are straightforward, while some become blocked. This is where daily stand-ups come in.   

Daily stand-ups  

The stand-up is a key part of sprinting. These are short daily meetings. We literally stand up to help make sure we keep it brief. Fifteen minutes only. Every morning, at the same time, we stand up and discuss the progress of the sprint. 

We run through what task we are working on. We highlight:  

  • If we’ve completed the task we were doing 
  • If not, how much longer we need on it 
  • Progress and updates – for example, we had 17 responses to our focus group invite 
  • What task (or occasionally tasks) we will be doing today 
  • Any blockers – something has happened that is stopping progress 
  • Solutions to the blockers 

These meetings are so, so useful. They allow us an overview of the sprint. They allow us to see any problems and to adapt if we need to. That is the mark of a good sprint team. Recognising and adapting to any potential problems, quickly. After each meeting we have clarity on what we are doing that day and what needs to be done to progress with the sprint.    

During the day 

During the day, we use Slack (online messaging service), Trello (project management tool), inperson discussions and Skype (video calls) to share tips we’ve found useful, discuss and complete tasks, come up with solutions to problems and provide updates our general progress. 

A screenshot showing an ongoing Skype call overlaid on a photo of post-it notes
Identifying user needs over a Skype call

Recently we were concerned the spreadsheet we were producing was becoming unwieldy and that we wouldn’t complete all the tasks set within the sprint, so we had an inperson/Skype meeting. Within about half an hour we had discussed the issues and decided on a course of action. This saved us loads of time and allowed us to refocus on what we needed to do to successfully complete the sprint project.   

Which brings us onto the next part of my series… the completing the sprint and sprint review blog post. Coming very soon.  

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