We use an agile project management approach. As you may already know, agile has several main features. Here’s how we use them for mainstream.
We divide our time into ‘sprints’. A GOV.UK mainstream sprint lasts a week and runs from Wednesday to Wednesday.
When we receive a request for a change to content, or for a new item of content, we review it. After it’s been reviewed, if we decide it warrants action or further investigation, it goes into our ‘icebox’. This is the full list of things we need to do.
We plan 1 sprint at a time. The people involved in managing creation and delivery of content for GOV.UK get together before the start of each sprint for ‘pre-sprint planning’. We look at what’s in the icebox. We decide what is priority for the coming sprint and move these tasks or ‘stories’ into the ‘backlog’. The backlog is a list, in priority order, of all stories that the team needs to complete in the next sprint.
At the start of each sprint, the entire mainstream content team gets together and looks at what’s in the backlog. We discuss any issues and estimate the size of each piece of work. Size, in agile terms, is calculated in points. Points are estimated based on the complexity of a task and how well that task is understood by the team before work starts on it. Working in this way we can see how many points the team gets through in each sprint (this is called the team’s ‘velocity’) and plan future sprints more accurately.
At the end of each sprint we get together and look at what went well, what didn’t go well, and how we can change things so that next sprint works better.