An Agile Approach to Collaboration


One of my highlights for 2017 was my involvement in an Agile project to create software for the bulk ingestion of digital collections into a digital preservation system. This was my first time coming across Scrum and Agile, as well as being involved in software development. While I had not previously had direct involvement in the big project management framework used by my organisation, the amount of effort required in planning, as well as its rigid structure and inability to deal with rapid changes in requirements, was understood. One of the first things I realised with the Agile approach was the ability for the project and the developers to adapt quickly to changing requirements while still delivering a minimum viable product (MVP). As the project progressed, we understood what was achievable and adjusted the MVP accordingly with the knowledge that it is not the completion of the project.

From a future user and subject matter expert point of view it was really engaging to see my input affect the development of the software, from the user interface to how the system deals with digital files. It was satisfying working collaboratively as a team, with regular meetings for sprint planning and review as well as regular stand-up meetings to keep the conversation going. 

Since I am not a fan of sports ball, Scrum terminology is lost on me. But the methodology is not. It is a lightweight process for managing and controlling software development in rapidly changing environments and is an intentionally iterative, team-based approach (Cervone 2011). It is relatively simple with clearly defined roles for each team member. It also provides the ability to quickly develop and test features before moving on to the next task and once again it was great to see my feedback from testing applied directly and quickly to the product. 

I look forward to continuing work on this collaborative project in 2018. It will be exciting to see its impact on workflows going forward, with the aim for more automated and less human intervention for the preparation and ingestion of files into the digital preservation system.

This post is my contribution to the GLAM Blog Club December theme: 'Collaboration'.

Further reading and references:


Cover image credit: British Rugby Union football players in a scrum, New South Wales, ca. 1930 [picture]. National Library of Australia. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-162078997

Matthew Burgess

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