It really is about the outcome with us. We seek long term relationships with our clients.

What's it Like to Work With Visual Data Solutions?

Our mission is to provide our clients with a winning edge through business insight and technical ingenuity. We do this by building solutions that help our clients thrive. Those solutions are usually broken down into individual projects, each of which provides the functionality needed. Operationally that makes us an outcomes based, project focused organization. We have many years of experience and have worked with a multitude of approaches. Since 2014 we have adopted an agile approach to software development called Scrum. Scrum is a simple yet incredibly powerful set of principles and practices that help teams deliver solutions in short cycles, enabling fast feedback, continual improvement, and rapid adaptation to change. With Scrum we can put your business goals at the core of the solution. It helps us work together in a partnership that becomes enjoyable and repeatable; one that delivers successful solutions on a continuous basis and allows all of us to work together in such a way that we can respond to one another and the most important business goals of the projectss we are working on. All of that to say, we have a plan for how we build your projects.

Our comprehensive plan embraces continuous improvement and delivery via Scrum. The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box during which "Done", useable, and potentially releasable project increments are created. We have chosen 2 weeks as our time-box period. That means we run a sprint every two weeks. As soon as one is finished we start the next. During the sprint we complete as much releasable work as possible. At the end of the sprint we review it, demonstrate it (if needed) and may schedule delivery of it. Sprints enable us to focus on the most immediate needs of a project and to get those done in the most efficient way possible. To do that we need to define your needs. 

Breaking down a project into small parts that can be easily defined, estimated, prioritized and built is the next step in our plan. In Scrum these parts are called "User Stories". A user story is a definition of a feature that needs to be completed. Normally a user story contains three sections, a description, acceptance criteria, and a definition of done. This helps define a feature in a succinct manner with all of the important pieces in a nicely organized format. Each of these stories can then be estimated, prioritized and built. All pending user stories are placed in a list called a Backlog that is constantly prioritized so that the most important user stories are at the top of the backlog. That way, defining a sprint becomes a matter of taking on the top stories available and filling our team's capacity for the upcoming sprint. Those are a lot of pieces at work in concert. They make the life of everyone involved in the process much easier. How, you ask?

One of the most important parts of our plan is transparency. We become partners in the process of building your solution. Everyone needs access to what is happening and we provide that by using a web based tool called Target Process. Our team uses Target Process every day to track our work. We give your primary contact access to Target Process so they can be a part of the team and we can share the workload of getting the project(s) defined, prioritized and done. You can learn more by viewing their video.

 

The benefits of this approach are many. Everyone involved can see a need and define it as a user story. Once defined it is placed in the backlog and prioritized. Nothing falls through the cracks. You have finished work every two weeks that can be used as soon as it is needed. Work can be started or stopped every two weeks giving you a great deal of flexibility in managing your priorities. Problem areas bubble up quickly allowing all parties involved a chance to respond wisely. For example, we've learned over time that there are three major priorities that help define a project. They are Budget, Timeline and Features. This approach gives you the ability to reprioritize every two weeks as needed. When a problem surfaces we can discuss it early and make appropriate adjustments to ensure we succeed and still meet your priorities as they are currently defined.

This plan would be incomplete if we did not also take billing into account. One of the goals of this plan is to help us work as partners. Given the flexibility provided by Scrum and the reality that no software project is ever fully defined we bill for our work by the hour per the role of the person doing the actual work on any given user story. We have found hourly billing is the most equitable way to partner up with our clients. You get exactly what you ask for, in the time frame we agreed to and we get paid for the work we have produced. Basically, it helps us become a part of your team. It encourages us to keep you abreast as each user story is worked on and you are on top of the budget and can adjust it as needed given the actual software being produced. It's a win-win situation.

It really is about the outcome with us. We seek long term relationships with our clients. We want you to get exactly what you want and we work with you every step of the way to make that happen. The plan we have outlined here is one we have used successfully on many projects. It is tweaked, as needed every two weeks as part of our review of the work done each sprint. This allows us to be very responsive to your needs, which we have found to be a key to providing Technology with a Human Touch.

By Will Tartak