During times of company growth, it’s essential that teams are able to establish workflows that are scalable, while keeping everyone informed. In this article, software development team NewOrbit shares with us the challenges that have arisen while growing their Agile business. Plus, how they’ve overcome these hurdles in order to grow.
NewOrbit’s Team and Software Project Management
Based in South East Oxfordshire, U.K., NewOrbit is a Software Product Partner that provides bespoke services to entrepreneurs. The team covers everything from project planning to product management, all in-house. Since launching in 2006, NewOrbit has grown to a team of 30, featuring product managers, operations professionals, business analysts, developers, and support staff.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Matthew Dowding, NewOrbit’s Support Consultant, to hear a little more about how MindMeister is helping the team to plan their growing number of projects, and how they’re then putting their work into action, using MeisterTask.
Using this collaborative workflow, we hear how the team has streamlined their management of three key areas:
- Software project management
- Operations and team management
- External and internal IT support.
1. Delivering Agile Software Projects Collaboratively
Even when taking an agile approach to project management, it’s essential for a team to first develop a clear roadmap of each project and its scope.
In order to establish their project scope, the NewOrbit team uses their Project Planning mind map template in MindMeister.
Check out our information-filled free white paper Staying Agile: 5 Best Practices in Software Project Management.
Mapping Out a New Client Project
The team’s project planning mind map includes all of the essential elements for effective software project management, including:
- BOSCARDI checklist (the team’s strategic planning process)
- Project Reporting
- Project Templates
- Notes from Project Meetings (Scrum or Kanban) with attendees, agenda & outcomes/actions
- Loose Items.
As a result, to structure an initial client project meeting, the team simply duplicates their Client Project template mind map and goes through each listed topic.
The process allows the initial project meeting to be more concise, enabling the delivery team to clearly outline the project controls and scope. This also assists ongoing project management by establishing regular project reporting, review and requirement meetings with the client.
To use the Project Planning template mind map, simply sign into MindMeister (or sign up free) and maximize the map via the ‘map actions’ icon. Once maximized, click again on the ‘map actions’ icon and choose to clone the map. From there, edit or embellish the topics to make the map suitable for your project!
Turning a Product from Concept to Reality
Within MindMeister, the discussed project controls can be turned into actionable tasks and assigned to the relevant team member in MeisterTask, where necessary, using the MeisterTask integration functionality:
As each project involves many members of the NewOrbit team, including Business Analysts and Operations, Matthew notes that the ease with which team members can on-board themselves to MeisterTask is a huge plus:
“We find MeisterTask is great for cross team tasking from Support to the Development/Delivery team, who primarily use Targetprocess for Feature and User Stories requirements, which the rest of our team either aren’t trained in or don’t have access to.”
“As a result, MeisterTask works as the bridge between our different departments, enabling everyone to stay on the same page with a solution that is simple for everyone to use.”
Previously there would be a breakdown in communication between those who were trained in Targetprocess and those who weren’t, or tasks would sometimes get missed, therefore MeisterTask has enabled NewOrbit to create a bridge between their development team and other project management staff.
Managing Micro Projects All in One Place
To connect the developers with the rest of the team, NewOrbit has set up a Work Packages Project Board. This Project features all micro projects, which do not warrant their own Project Board but require collaborative input. For example, a commissioned report on a certain issue that could be undertaken single-handedly by Matthew.
As the Project is shared, whoever the work package task is assigned to can comment to seek guidance from the developers or other members of staff, via the task commenting features. This way, NewOrbit’s workflow remains collaborative, even when managing small work packages.
2. Managing Operations on a Growing Team
With an increasing number of projects, NewOrbit has looked to hire and onboard new staff members to grow and see these projects through. NewOrbit’s Senior Management Team stay on top of this growing team & recruitment management by utilising MindMeister and MeisterTask.
Mapping Out Company Progress & Strategy
In order to map out their operational priorities and HR efforts during each company meeting, NewOrbit has developed a Company Meeting template.
The map includes details of:
- Starters & Leavers
- Recap of previous actions
- Strategic matters
- Team updates
- Process Review
- Training Byte
- Loose items.
The standard agenda is then duplicated and dated for each company meeting:
Matthew shares that with their company meeting template, “nothing is missed during the meetings, as all key points to address are included in the map template.”
Productive Team Management with Section Actions
Just like their project management workflow, the Operations and Management teams then task up all to-dos in MeisterTask. All meeting tasks are assigned and given due dates at the end of the meeting, ensuring that key decisions are seen through.
To make the task delegation process more efficient, NewOrbit has set up a number of Section Actions within MeisterTask. One of these Section Actions automatically assigns tasks to specific team members when the task is dragged and dropped into the linked section.
For example, if the Operations team need to order desk supplies for a new hire, the task can be dragged into the Office Supplies section. NewOrbit’s Office Manager is then assigned the task automatically, meaning they’ll be notified of the task and the date it needs to be completed by. In just one drag and drop movement, the Operations team can ensure that the task will be completed before the deadline.
3. Providing High-Quality IT Support for Clients and Internal Staff
NewOrbit manages the ongoing success and upkeep of the software solutions they provide, making support a significant area of work. Coordinating this work, Matthew manages support queries and ensures that they get addressed by the relevant people and on time.
While also being accountable for all internal IT support, Matthew shares the efficient workflow he’s established for logging and prioritizing support requests.
Ensuring a Smooth Project Handover with a Support Knowledge Map
Matthew’s workflow begins with the development of a Support Handover mind map. Just like the previous strategies, the mind map is duplicated from his existing Support Handover map template in MindMeister.
The mind map features all of the vital information that Matthew should gather from Project Managers during the Support Handover meeting. These include:
- who the account manager is
- who the database users will be
- which email provider is in use for the project
- which SMS provider is in use for the project
- contact details of the Project Manager in case of emergency
- contact details for the client in case of emergency
- Pingdom details for downtime alerts
- Any other useful information about the system.
Once the mind map has been populated with information relevant to the project, Matthew can rest assured that he has all key support information in one place.
The map acts as a Knowledge Map for each project and can be shared with other team members who need to look up project logistics.
Productive Internal IT Management
Before taking on internal IT support, Matthew explained that the NewOrbit developers were being assigned internal IT tasks in a chaotic way.
“Previously, internal staff members would simply walk over to a member of the development team and ask them to fix an IT issue for them on the spot,” Matthew shares. “These were usually non-urgent requests that would get completed before important, high priority, ongoing project work.”
Equally, with internal support requests raised in person, they wouldn’t be logged in a task manager first, meaning tasks could be forgotten entirely.
To improve this, the team came up with a workflow to record all internal IT issues within the shared MeisterTask Project Board. Team members can now simply create a task for Matthew in the Project Board, meaning the issue is logged and Matthew is notified.
This way, Matthew can prioritize the task against other existing tasks – such as external support requests – while ensuring the internal issue doesn’t slip through the gaps.
The efficient process means that no request is forgotten and the developers are able to focus on the most urgent tasks at hand.
The Result: Efficient Team and Project Management
Matthew shares that NewOrbit’s main quest when researching different online mind mapping solutions was to find one that was efficient and affordable. In this, the team found MindMeister, and subsequently MeisterTask:
“We were previously working with another online mind mapping tool that was significantly more expensive. We’d also experience a lot of downtime, during which we’d lose access to important information,” Matthew shares.
“When we found MindMeister we knew we needed to switch. We were really impressed by how fast it works and the offline capabilities on mobile mean we can plan and manage projects on the move.”
When the team discovered that plans made in MindMeister can be converted directly into tasks in MeisterTask, their new workflow was complete:
“We love the integration between mind mapping and tasking. Before, someone would have to interrupt a colleague’s workflow to request a task in-person, which could potentially be forgotten.”
“Now, we can just log into MeisterTask and communicate details over the tasks, at a time that works for both team members. The whole process saves us a lot of time and this way no tasks get lost along the way.”
At MeisterLabs, we’re delighted to hear the positive impact that MindMeister and MeisterTask are having on a growing software business. For more information on NewOrbit’s work and projects, visit the NewOrbit website.
If you have a story to share about the impact that MindMeister and MeisterTask have had on your business, we’d love to hear from you.
To get in touch about being featured in a success story on our blog, drop Tarryn an email at tarryn (at) meisterlabs (dot) com
15 thoughts on “Gearing Up For Growth: NewOrbit’s Software Project Management”
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