On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") took action to block evictions. The CDC issued an order that bans evictions from September 4, 2020, through December 31, 2020, to stop the spread of COVID-19. Under the CDC order, any landlord with the legal right to evict a tenant will not be allowed.
Within 24 hours of the issuance of the order, our team launched COVID-19 Eviction Forms. Impossible, you might say. However, developing and launching a legal tech solution within 24 hours is possible when adopting the right approach with an adequate methodology.
For this project, our team used an agile methodology comprised of sprints. A sprint is a set time during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review. With this approach, a product or solution can be built in a series of iterations that break down large and complicated projects into more manageable, bite-sized pieces.
In the words of Maz Rehkopf:
"Sprints make projects more manageable, allow teams to ship high-quality work faster and more frequently, and gives them more flexibility to adapt to change."
Working in sprints gives teams more flexibility and allows efficient changes to a product or solution. With sprints, you can make sure that the project team delivers results while moving the project along.
How does a sprint work?
How many times have you heard the saying, "it's a marathon, not a sprint?" However, with software development, this saying is not applicable every time. Delivering software fast is a real challenge. So, how does a sprint usually works? We give you some tips based on our recent experience.
1. Kickoff. Every sprint starts with a kickoff meeting. During this meeting, the different teams and the product manager (sometimes called "product owner") plan the tasks in detail that must be delivered in a period of time. After laying out the duties and deliverables, each team is free to decide how it will meet the agreed requirements.
2. Meetings. Depending on the project and time frame, you can have a daily meeting called a "daily scrum." Suppose you've ever heard of a scrum methodology. In that case, this is usually a 15-minute daily meeting that focuses on discussing the deliverables that have been executed and the remaining tasks that must be accomplished. In our case, to launch a product in 24 hours, we couldn't hold a daily meeting. That's why the kickoff meeting was so important to set the expectations and deliverables clearly.
3. Team. For every sprint, you should have identified your team and the tasks for each team. For example, in our case, we had the document automation team, the website development team, the digital marketing team, the legal review and outreach team, and the testing team. You need a relay between different teams with the same goal in mind in any sprint, each with different objectives. In our experience, you can only succeed when the various teams interact and pass on the project from team to team.
4. Changes. A sprint should enable your teams to respond and adapt to changes. This means that all teams have to work in coordination to deliver the product. If one team cannot meet the new requirements, the other teams will not deliver the final product.
5. Implementation. The key to any successful project is execution and implementation. No project can't be successful is there is no execution. Therefore, you will need a Project Manager (sometimes called "Scrum Master") to help teams navigate their priorities, deliverables, and next steps. The Project Manager of a sprint will be vital to keep the coordination, communication, and balance with all the teams.
6. Review and Test. With sprints, you have abbreviated work cycles. This means teams have more than one chance to get each aspect of the project right. Therefore, constant testing is critical to have a functional product or a minimum viable product ("MVP"). With a sprint, you strive for the continual revision of every aspect of the project to achieve quality results. By allowing teams to stop and revise their work, modifications and changes are easily incorporated, and the project can change quickly. In our experience, testing was the most critical part of the process. We couldn't have a product within 24 hours if there wasn't constant testing of the website or the forms.
7. Deployment. After making sure you have a functional product or MVP, you are ready to launch your product. In our case, it took 24 hours to launch our product in English and 48 hours to launch the same solution in Spanish. However, this came after executing all the steps mentioned above.
8. Continued optimization. After you launch your product, make sure to keep track of the project and make sure it is continuously improved. COVID-19 Eviction Forms is continually enhanced to provide a better product and user experience.
Each project is different, and so is each project's methodology. Depending on the type of product you want to develop, it may be appropriate to use sprints.
A sprint is about an organization's ability to respond to constant changes around them while building a functional product or solution. A sprint is a collaborative discipline, not an individual race. For any successful sprint methodology, you will need teams and leadership. On some occasions, it's ok to say, "it's a sprint, not a marathon!".