Apply4: How We Work…
Written by Hugh Sharma

Apply4: How We Work…

16th February 2020

The Development Method

Apply4 utilise the highly effective kanban method which operates on a system of pulling rather than pushing. For example, imagine a supermarket check out where the clerk only beeps through your items at the speed that you pack them. We’ve all been in that situation (usually at Lidl) where your products are coming at you so fast, you’re dropping tins all over the place. This is not an effective way to help you pack and it’s not an effective way to work. When our development team finishes one piece of work (maybe a bug fix, maybe a whole new feature), they can reach back and grab the next piece from the pile. This prevents them from attempting to work too many multiple projects and not seeing them through to completion. It also allows for time extensions when a simple development becomes far more complex. Our development team breaks all of their work down into two week cycles which we call a sprint. I’m not talking Usain Bolt; although we like to dream they could work this fast.

What happens if we don’t finish a piece of work in one sprint?

Think back to Lidl again and the shelves. They pile up four boxes high at the beginning of each delivery and work down in date order. They don’t run out (unless storm Dennis is in town….) and when the new delivery comes in, the last box or two gets popped on the top of the news ones and they start again. At Apply4, a project may roll over into a new sprint, but it will be prioritised (put at the top).

How do we Prioritise?

Imagine you have just got home from your shopping; you’ve got ten bags of shopping and they all have to go away at some point. You’ve got freezer food, if it doesn’t get sorted it will perish. You’ve got fridge food, slightly more time to pack but not a lot. Then you’ve got some groceries for the cupboard. Theoretically, these could stay piled in a corner in the hall unless you have a dog or children…. As a tech start-up, we will always have way more shopping than cupboard space in our sprints. We have to balance the long term desires of getting the clunky shopping out of the hall and finally pretty and away; with immediate bugs, migrations and system upgrades. We have a meeting every week (backlog grooming) where our team makes customer suggestions and discusses what will fit in the upcoming sprint. We can’t prevent delay but we can communicate.


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