User stories when developed and utilised correctly are the most powerful agile technique to capture product functionality, though writing user stories may seem easy, writing good stories is hard. Furthermore most of us get fixated and seldom go beyond the basics, and end up with visibly complete but useless user stories!
Components of a User Story evolve/grow both vertically (spawn more Epics) and horizontally (become more involved) – their state of completion changes during the product and sprint backlog’s lifecycle. In the deck below I explore individual components that make up a ‘complete’ and ‘ready for dev’ user story, it is based on personal successes and failures and is by its agile nature an incomplete deck! it will evolve and as it does I’ll keep you folks updated.
Peace Through Prosperity (PTP) improves the local/domestic environment for peace by nurturing prosperity in conflict affected geographies. PTP alleviates poverty, prevents radicalisation through empowering micro-entrepreneurs with knowledge, skills, ability and increasing their access to income and opportunities. PTP supports small businesses, owned/managed by vulnerable and marginalised individuals/groups in society.
PTP is innovating program design and delivery by using Agile design and delivery frameworks to create and deliver low cost, immediate and lasting impact social development programs in ‘at risk’ communities.
At the start of my many short journeys back in 1999 I set myself and my team a mission; to identify a market where we could do better than the incumbents, design products to address the needs more effectively, add value, take the identified market by storm with our products, services and their support, maintenance and upgrades, challenge the dominant player openly and brazenly, radically change the established pricing model, create and maintain a dominant position in that market, nurture and maintain a brand for each individual product, ensure the product brands are recognized for their innovation, responsiveness and unparalleled support.
Then spin off the products arm as a separate entity or sell the products to an established player or one looking to establish themselves in that market. The idea being to create an investment loop from one set of products and services to fund new product investments as opportunities are identified.
My team and me did exactly that (it took us longer than expected to get to the first ‘winning’ product but…), we achieved this with a number of products the talent management space in health and social care verticals.
The products designed, built and continue to maintain and support went from being prototypes being presented to thought leaders in the sector to online software services used by 1,500,000 plus users in the National Health Service and Local governmental bodies in the United Kingdom. Having created a significant footprint in the chosen verticals I knew it was time to either spin off or sell of the products to someone who could do them even more justice whilst remaining true to the original vision. Meaning I would be free to repeat the process all over again but this time with more investment and an on the job MBA!… or to start another journey doing something different.
In April 2011 Ikonami’s products along with the vehicle used so far in the journey (Ikonami Ltd UK) were sold to Electric Word Plc, and a new relationship was formed. Electric Word plc bought the talent management products suite and retained the services of one of the directors of Ikonami; Arif Ahmed. And better yet retained us in a long term contract to continue support and maintenance of the products and to provide additional software services.
What was Ikonami Ltd has now been re-branded as Radcliffe Solutions Ltd and the Ikonami brand has transitioned to another vehicle to continue with its journey; Ikonami Technologies Ltd.
Along this leg of my journey I learned many lessons, from product ownership and company structure to managing resellers and partners, avoiding exploitation from the larger fish, to fighting off the competition and their lobby groups and much much more…there were painful lessons, some costly ones, some doH! moments and many awesome ones!
Having done so I am repeating the adventure but with a difference; not to make the same mistakes again, to learn from my many small journeys, implement the positives, manage the risk of the negatives and avoid the silly. And where possible share the learnings with our clients, suppliers, partners and peers.
Other than being a world class software services partner my team and me are here to share our experiences with our clients, to guide and assist them in not just the technical aspects but to provide advise on all aspects of their own adventure, for in their success is ours.
Recently I was reading an article in a mainstream broadsheet that there are fewer opportunities now than there were 20 years ago, I strongly disagree for good market research and innovative product/service development can create an opportunity in any crowded space or indeed out of thin air! Open data comes to example as the perfect example.
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Having addressed the technicalities of why we went offshore, what model we applied, the location we chose, the out come and the future in the previous post it’d be natural progression to start a chain of journey posts to tell our readers about my journey from a 2 bed terrace in Gravesend in Kent to offices in London and Islamabad and clients in Chicago, London, Bristol, Nottingham, Manchester, Gent, Breda, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dubai, Doha, Islamabad, Hong Kong and Sydney.
To totally misquote Walter Elliot; success is not one long journey but many small ones.
My journey began in 1999; started life as an offshore project and supplier management contractor, went on to create a company (Ikonami) and build a team to cater for the growing demand. In its early days ikonami worked with clients in the UK managing their offshore software projects and suppliers in a range of countries from India, Israel, Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, Ukraine to some based in the Far East.
Ikonami was a bridge between UK companies and offshore software service providers.
Experiences over the next four years, a mix of frustrations and successes shaped our strategic thinking; in 2003 I concluded that ‘… there is a gap in the market for a world class software services supplier with an offshore development center, an onshore management center to deliver value adding software services at fair rates to SME’s and start-ups based in the UK’. You may say ‘..well such providers already existed and do..’, and you will be both right and wrong.
How many SME’s can afford the services of tier 1 offshore software service providers? Not many! Your savings will be in the range of 10-15% (if you could afford their rates) and as an SME or a start-up that is not what you are looking for or can afford, you are after that elusive holy grail that every outsourcing provider promises but seldom deliver; the upwards of 40% holy grail of savings but not at the cost of quality of service and deliverable.
And seeking that grail many SME’s and start ups forget to distinguish between ‘cheap’ and ‘good value’… and end up chasing monkeys. (Outsourcing is already ‘great value’ so spend that little bit extra to engage the ‘right’ provider for your business or clients.)
With that in mind and having experienced it first hand I decided to set up an offshore software development center (ODC) in South Asia. And build an offshore software development and support services delivery capability that matches the quality and consistency of tier 1 providers, including skills base, range and depth of knowledge of specific domains, hr and talent development practices and infrastructure… whilst being sensible about costs so as not to incur similar capital expenditure or ongoing overheads. That meant selecting our offshore location with considerable care.
My team and me delivered on that vision of consistent quality and mature processes, validated by accreditation’s bagged within our first 12 months of setting up the ODC; Ikonami achieved ISO 9001-2000 and ISO 27001 certifications and were delivering over 40% savings for our clients consistently without any compromise on quality, timeliness and relationship. We exported local (UK) best practices to our ODC and soon became and remain an employer of choice for local talent, we have kept to our vision.
So in a nut-shell that is part of our journey…. or in the least our purpose is clearer! there is much more … so more on more later.