New agile development program - no more queues! REW Retainer!
by Morgan Carey
on Monday, April 17th, 2017 at 11:21pm.
Many folks are familiar with our "dedicated developer" program (and some are not) - but what most folks are NOT familiar with is many of the enhancements and processes we have adapted thanks to the addition of our REW Enterprise program. We have been building / testing this new platform for nearly 2 years now, and have seen tremendous improvements in both throughput and project quality. As such, we have decided it is time that we share this new, advanced project methodology with the larger population of REW customers, starting with the dedicated developer program.
Let's start with a quick overview of the new way: Agile Methodology
Project management: A project manager is now assigned to all major projects. This allows for a much needed single point of contact, not just for a single project, but for the customers overall platform. By adding a project manager, communication is improved and assets can be more effectively managed in / out of projects on an as needed basis without the loss of the history / perspective of the big picture. Projects managers save the client time, provide much better "up front" documentation of a clients needs (which includes helping the client through the process of working out exactly what those needs are) and allow development resources to be focused on their first and best use (developing / creating) and remove the inefficient process of the client need to manage technical resources.
Constructing a team: Your project manager will help build your team. This team is based #1 on the right people for the project at hand, but also will be selected based on availability required to meet project deadlines. Your team will often times consist of a project architect group (programming), creative / design team members (visual and markup), specialists (where required such as WPO) and QA (quality assurance / testing).
Creating a story: Clients want to know 2 things: When it will be done, and how much it will cost. And believe me, WE want to know these things too! A project manager works with the client and the team up front to create a much more detailed story of the project. By doing so (even though there is a cost of time / energy up front) - it allows us to discover exactly what resources will be required, pin down the exact spec, have the client and the team "sign off" and over the course of the project will typically end up saving time in the end - but more importantly, you will end up with a higher quality, properly tested product.
Agile development: REW now runs all major projects using a process known as "Agile Development" - this consists of a concept called a sprint followed by a period of review / testing. It is during these intervals that a client can provide feedback on the "existing" project, but also has the opportunity to review and adapt their project. Of course adaptation / addition means we add time / cost to the project - but with project manager involvement, these times and costs are far easier to know and document at the time of discussion. Alternatively - there is also the opportunity to optimize projects the "other way" - upon review you may determine you do not in fact need all features originally planned - your PM can reduce the feature sets / requirements thereby saving you time and money. It's truly "agile".
Quality: All large projects must be assigned a QA specialist. These team members evaluate and test all features within a project and ensure where possible, that any issues with quality, user experience are caught "within the project" as opposed to the client (or their users) finding issues post launch potentially causing embarrassment and requiring the opening of a new project to further modify the custom project. If you have ever wondered what REW's internal KPI's for project team members are - I can tell you they are not ANYTHING to do with billable hours. In fact project members are not scored on any financial metrics at all.
In the new REW - THE MOST IMPORTANT factor is QUALITY! In fact, over 80% of their consideration for bonus is now tied to project quality and tracking / documentation. The other factors being project velocity (speed to complete) and customer satisfaction (which of course is achieved by focusing on quality and velocity).
This program is going to replace our existing "dedicated developer" program.
So how is it different?
The old program was a way to "guarantee" you a certain amount of a certain resource each month up to the maximum you were willing to reserve. The benefits were: You never had to wait in a queue, you never had to wait for an estimate and generally you knew who you were going to be working with any that they were familiar with your project.
The negatives? You were "capped" at whatever resources you had reserved. X programming, X design etc. Also, you were stuck trying to predict exactly how much of each resource you would use (design, programming etc) because we had to set aside those specific resources for you. If you could not come up with something to do for "that specific resource" then you would lose your time for that month (which you pre-paid for).
The REW Retainer program is agile! Instead of committing to a "maximum" amount of resources of a "specific type" - you now only have to commit to a "minimum" monthly budget and you no longer have to pre-decide what type of resources you want. Instead all retainer programs will have a project manager assigned to assist you in organizing your projects and it will be up to the project manager to ensure that they are able to find you the resources needed to do the work.
2 great things about this program:
#1 - As long as you have given us the work - If we cannot find you the resources needed in that month, you no longer will forfeit your budget / hours - they will carry forward into the next months until we are able to accommodate. #2 - This is no longer a "maximum" it is a "minimum - what this means is, if you would like to accelerate your projects at any time, you can simply ask your project manager to do so, and they will wherever possible find you extra resources for your project "in that month" as long as those resources are not already assigned. AND you get a discount on the hours you add at the same rate as your retainer discount! #3 - Long term, contract retainer clients will enjoy priority in our resource queue.
The one catch - you do still lose your budget in a month if you do not provide us any work. We are setting aside time and resources for you that we must guarantee (and cannot sell to someone else) so it is your obligation to make sure we have work to do for you. BUT as with virtually all of our current dedicated clients - their complaint is NOT ENOUGH resources, they always have more work than we can handle. This gives us a much better way to organize / be more efficient (and agile) with your projects and in many cases allows us to give "more" to your projects when you want to accelerate them.
How much does it cost?
You must sign up for a minimum 3 months of this program at a minimum of 10 hours per month as there is resource planning involved.
There you have it folks - the new REW Retainer program.
If you are constantly innovating and would like to avoid both the estimates and production queue's and can commit to a minimum monthly development budget - this is the program for you!
One last note - to our largest, most advanced dedicated developer clients - I will be reaching out to you personally. Chances are, you likely are now candidates / qualify for promotion to "REW Enteprise" which comes with additional benefits such as VP and CEO consulting, greater discounts on longer term contract, yearly (instead of monthly) resource blocking / allocation and if you provide technology for all your agents (and subdomains), receive a brand new platform every 3 years,. You know who you are - let's chat soon!
Happy to answer your questions below, in the REW Facebook Group or you can reach out to your product consultant.