XebiaLabs Design Challenge
(Hilversum, the Netherlands)
Design a solution to help Project Managers include mandatory steps into the application release workflow
I was working on the assignment several days by spending just several hours on each day. The picture below shows my design process. After the picture, I am telling a story about it in details: my way of thinking step-by-step, how I started, how my design decisions were made and how I came up with the final results.
When I got the assignment I realized that I would like to get at least some insights from the domain. Luckily I have a couple of friends who work in the IT companies. Their positions and quite close to the Project Managment and they work time to time with release plans. Via WhatsApp messaging, I asked my friends about their experience of working with the release plans, which tool do they use to create the plans and how they deal with so-called mandatory steps in the process before the actual release.
My friends mentioned that they use different tools for different projects, mostly Jira, TFS, Redmine, Trello and sometimes even just Excel. One of them said that they usually create a release plan without many details at the beginning and that it changes in the process based on changing requirements from stakeholders. What was important to me to know, they do not have specific mandatory steps in the release workflow. As about the last steps before the release, they usually have just normal tasks such as fixing bugs, creating a release branch, merging, and, of course, testing. Actually, they have a mandatory "product owner test" that is the last approval from their product owner, but they do not officially track this task in any system.
This short research helped me a bit to build a picture of the situation I could more or less start from. I went through some phases of the individual brainstorming. On the pieces of paper, I was creating some sketches and notes from the ideas and thoughts that came to my mind. I tried to think from different perspectives (see some sketches below):
- tasks flow with a mandatory step at the end of a sequence of the tasks for each release plan item
- creating a mandatory step as a mandatory task among other tasks
- the progress of the tasks
- mandatory steps for each level of the tasks
- visualization of the mandatory task
- having a mandatory step in each level of tasks
As a result, I decided to go with the idea that including mandatory steps in the application release workflow is actually including tasks (like other normal tasks) in the system, but with special attributes and appearance that show that these tasks are mandatory. The idea is that the mandatory tasks always have high priority and supposed to be done always at the end right before the actual release when all tasks are done within each release plan item. So, each item from the release plan has its own mandatory step like a "green light". (In practice probably can be several mandatory steps per release plan item, but in my example, for the demo, I chose only one mandatory step for each item). When the mandatory tasks for all items from the release plan are done it literally means the "green light" for the actual release.
I understood the assignment as about the design of the experience for the Project Manager - to not forget to set the mandatory steps for the application release workflow and to be able to control them easily. Before going to create first wireframes, I created by myself an example of a short release plan with several tasks/subtasks and mandatory steps (=tasks) for each release plan item (The tasks/subtasks are exemplary without going too much into details and subtasks in the more lower level).
After that, I started to work on the wireframes how I see user interaction - creating a release plan with mandatory tasks and how are they shown in the interface among other tasks. For the wireframes, I chose Balsamiq because at this moment I wanted to focus only on capturing ideas and functionality just to present my solution and do not think about hi-fi visual representation yet.
To see the interactive prototype please click the button "Check the Demo" below:
Behind the scenes
The first notes/sketches/comments I made during the individual brainstorming while working on the assignment. Since they are quite chaotic, I had to redraw some of the sketches to be able to present them in a more understandable way for the Process chapter.