2017
11
July

Enhanced Collaboration and Productivity for Agile Teams

By definition, agile teams are cross-functional and self-sufficient—they include members capable of taking a project through every step of development, from inception to code release. With a diversity of roles—managers, developers, testers, designers, and ops engineers—working so closely together, timely and effective communication is absolutely essential if agile teams hope to complete their stories on time.

In this environment of rapid progress and constant iteration, communicating visually with Lucidchart helps agile teams stay on the same page and meet deadlines. Here’s how Lucidchart can improve your agile teams through every phase of the development cycle.

Deciding what to build

Project managers usually have a pretty good handle on the overarching features and initiatives they want to tackle next. However, without taking some time to think through and clarify technical details, they may not be prepared to pass their big ideas over to the engineers for development.

When PMs sit down with UX designers to build a user flow or diagram technical architecture they are required to think through every part of a new project before they pass it off to developers. Moreover, visually walking through a user flow often causes managers to notice and plan for edge cases they hadn’t considered before. This step prevents the unintentional incorporation of systemic bugs during development, saving the entire team time and a headache.

For example, the Lucidchart development team used Lucidchart to plan for a project associated with translating their user experience into several new languages. One project manager, Daniel, explained how building a user flow helped his team avoid more work later: “My diagram went through several iterations because we kept finding things that didn’t work in our current system. Because of that, we had marketing and the growth team update their pages. In the end, that diagram helped us to troubleshoot errors ahead of time, and we’ll be using it as our ‘Bible’ moving forward.”

User flows continue to provide dividends throughout the development cycle.

Writing code collaboratively

Once PMs finalize a user flow, they can pass it off to their team of developers. Having a list of specific requirements accompanied by a diagram clarifies what developers need to build so that everyone is on the same page. Lucidchart can then help the developers determine dependencies and make assignments for individual tasks so that the whole team understands their responsibilities and how their part fits into a bigger whole.

Three Lucidchart engineers did exactly that as they worked together on rewriting a section of code. Because their assignments were interdependent, they mapped them out in Lucidchart and used a color key to communicate progress. This way, they could coordinate implementation to ensure that nothing broke as they replaced sections of code. Additionally, visualizing dependencies helped them to prioritize their work so they could meet important project deadlines.

As developers get into the weeds of a project, they sometimes run into a complex tangle of logic. By sorting through it with a flowchart or sequence diagram, developers establish an accurate mental model of the code and troubleshoot errors or build additional functionality. If they leave the project and come back to it, visuals will help them to quickly remember where they were rather than having to sort through the code all over again. Additionally, they can share their diagrams with colleagues to quickly explain the complexities of the code and to create shared understanding.

Finally, the day will come when developers pass their code to QA for testing. Including a diagram in the handoff helps testers prepare for and conduct testing more thoroughly and efficiently.

 Testing features thoroughly

For testers to do their work, they need to know which features have changed and understand how those changes should affect the user experience in every edge case. By seeing code changes in a visual format, testers internalize all the ways that a release will affect the product so they can plan their tests accordingly.

As good as your developers are, it’s inevitable that QA will eventually find a bug somewhere. When this happens, referencing appropriate documentation will allow testers to more quickly identify the code source causing a bug and report it to the developers as a specific and actionable request. If the bug is complicated to reproduce, testers can create their own diagrams to walk developers through the process for a faster resolution.

Communicating across the board

 These examples are just a fraction of the ways that Lucidchart can enhance communication for agile teams. Just as PMs pass diagrams to developers and developers pass diagrams to testers, designers and operations engineers can also join the loop and communicate visually using Lucidchart. It all boils down to science: the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, so when you need to convey complex information, save time with a visual. Try Lucidchart.

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