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Driving consistent and predictable quality of code by leveraging Extreme Programming techniques

Faced with a growing backlog of digital products to deliver against in short timelines, our client needed to embed best practice software development techniques to meet NSW citizens’ needs.

About our client

Our client is a state government agency that provides frontline customer service to NSW citizens on behalf of other government agencies and departments.

Business challenge

Faced with a growing backlog of digital products to deliver against in short timelines, our client needed to embed best practice software development techniques to meet NSW citizens’ needs. 

Problem statements

  • How do we rapidly deliver initiatives  while ensuring technical quality is maintained?  
  • How can we ensure that there is consistent growth in the capability of our people?  

Hypothesis involvement

Hypothesis was helping the client deliver two critical products to market in November 2019 that would support NSW citizens experiencing unexpected crises. Having invested heavily in the growth of their engineering capability, there was an ask from the client also to find opportunities to uplift and embed best practice software engineering techniques. The Hypothesis team included two Product Designers, four Full Stack Engineers, and a Product Manager. As the client’s needs evolved due to the unfolding crises, the Hypothesis team varied between working as one independent team and working in an integrated manner with client teams through the nine-month engagement duration.  

 

With strict deadlines to meet and often having to deliver new products in a matter of weeks, it was crucial to the team’s success to ensure technical quality was maintained from the start, enabling the team to quickly pivot between priorities while minimising the effort required to support live products. The team adopted Extreme Programming techniques of Test Driven Delivery and Pair Programming. 

 

Working in an integrated manner with client teams enabled the Hypothesis team members to embed themselves within the client’s context and attain a deep understanding of their environment. Using this to their advantage, and actively pairing with client engineers, they were able to influence behaviours directly and act on opportunities to impart experience and knowledge. Throughout the engagement, Hypothesis integrated into five separate delivery teams, working with approximately 20 different client team members. 

 

When working independently from client teams, the Hypothesis team focused heavily on reusability and enablement of other teams through their development. The team ensured that commonly used components where genericised and made available in libraries so that other teams could take advantage of them. They also contributed back into existing libraries to drive improvements in their usability. By taking a component driven approach to development, the team was able to develop products much quicker and enable other teams to do the same. The use of tried and tested components made the technology ecosystem significantly more resistant to bugs. 


The team remained adaptable with the use of technologies, attempting to use the most appropriate tool for the required output. Front ends were built using JavaScript frameworks Angular and React supported by backend technologies of Spring Boot, Java, Kotlin, and Python and tied together through Apigee. All infrastructure was maintained on AWS leveraging EC2, RDS and S3, brokered through Pivotal Cloud Foundry. GitLab was used to manage repositories and CI/CD pipelines. Hypothesis took responsibility for delivering across the full stack, including the setup and maintenance of infrastructure and DevOps pipelines.
 

 

Hypothesis’ success in this engagement was driven by the ability to integrate with client teams and make incremental improvements to the ecosystem as it stood. Being able to adapt and pragmatically drive capability and quality outcomes instead of driving a preconceived notion of “the right way” allowed them to meet the client where they were and ensure that they were in a better place at the end of the engagement.

The outcome

Over nine months, Hypothesis was able to deliver nine digital products to market, reaching around 150,000 users. The range of products supported users in various ways, including providing access to information and grants in times of need and digitally enabling transactions to allow people to continue to transact with the government without physical attendance at an office or service centre. 

 

Client team members that Hypothesis worked with commended the team on their expertise and ability to drive outcomes while improving the environment around them. Working side-by-side within integrated client teams allowed them to sense and respond, leaving a lasting impact on how the client worked.

Key success measures

The success of this engagement was measured by the improved outcomes for teams that Hypothesis had worked with. Multiple teams showed improved ways of working and adoption of best practice development techniques such as Extreme Programming.

Highlights

The Hypothesis team was able to pivot and adapt continually, with rapidly changing team structures to support the succession of several crises and needing to work with different client team members, while still delivering products to market. Their ability to not only produce outcomes but do so in a shifting environment while improving the technological ecosystem around them was a tremendous success.

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