Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Planning Meeting

We started to work on our new application over the weekend. No specifics at this time, let's just call it "Project X". It'll be a web app, most likely developed in Rails using mySQL back-end. But it doesn't really matter just yet.

We got together Saturday around 10 AM. After establishing the agenda we started to work on the details.
Here is what our agenda was:

1) Check competitors
2) Look at HTML Templates
3) Define system user types
4) Work out the workflows for our different user types
5) Create wire frames
6) Create mock-ups
7) Enter story cards in Pivotal tracker

The real work started with item 3 on our list. It is like the 10,000 feet view of the app. No specifics, discussing what happens when. Our technique was similar to a UML activity diagram, focusing on what triggers the application to move from one state to the other.

Once we had a general idea of the different workflows that different user types had, we started to "zoom into" the areas by creating wire frames. We wanted to focus on what pages we needed and how you could get from one page to the other.

We estimated around 12 – 15 pages we need to get the application off the ground. Our mock up task focused on what elements or fields we'd have on those pages. What describes a user? Name, email, company name, etc. Do we need categories to help searches? Sure! So we added that making it easy for the different user types to connect.

One of us was working on the white board, while the other entered stories into the excellent Pivotal Tracker.
We finished around 3:30 PM. I was tired, but we did accomplish what we wanted. Create stories and start to move forward with the project.

What's next? We'll pick a free web template and just build up HTML prototypes. Our idea is vague right now and we want to make changes freely and easily. Having a DB back-end would slow us down when we want to switch things around. We'll learn about the application by doing this and asking ourselves: As User Type "A" when I go to my dashboard, should I see historical items to do rating?
Development will start when we are OK with our HTML pages.

Do you follow the same process with your customers?