With NNIT’s agile work process ‘From law to backlog’, public organizations and private companies can quickly and efficiently adapt their digital systems to comply with new laws, rules, or organizational changes.By Jacob TrierIt is rarely a simple matter to convert a new reform from legal text to digital code. Public organizations and private companies often find themselves spending a lot of time updat- ing their digital systems to support new rules or changes of existing practices. Therefore, NNIT has developed an agile work method that reduces the development process and increases the quality of the final solution.
“We call this method ‘From law to backlog’. It is applied in the phase just before the agile development process where business require- ments are converted into specifications. This method provides us with a quick and accurate overview, which is necessary in order to convert the client’s needs into specific code. In one particular case where we developed a self-service solution, we reduced the time spent preparing an application for develop- ment by 50%,” Vice President of NNIT, Lars Andersen, explains.
The basis of the ‘From law to backlog’ method is a close collaborative partnership between the business manager and the development team. In a series of meetings, the overall task will be split into individual sentences describ- ing the system requirements. This could be ‘Automatic cancellation of benefits when exceeding time-limits’, for example. These descriptions are called ‘epics’ and serve to ensure a common understanding of the commercial goals. At the same time, the user-friendliness consultants (UX consultants) prepare early drafts of how this can be repre- sented as displays. This also serves to ensure the necessary transparency in relation to the processes required to get the different system components to perform the task correctly.
"At the commercial level, it is often relatively simple to understand the process. In practice, it can be implemented in different ways depending on how you wish to communicate with the users. Should the communication be sent as a letter, an email, a text message, or should a case worker be instructed to contact the citizen by telephone, for example? Furthermore, it may be a complex task system-wise, as many systems have to be changed and data have to be updated at multiple levels,” Lars Andersen says.
When the individual epic is in place, the development work is performed as a circular process:
This work method ensures a well-defined and recurring process where the needs are con- stantly challenged, new ideas arise, and the transfer of knowledge is reduced. There is a strong focus on continuous learning and cooperation. For instance, we use visual methods to ensure that the expectations for the final product are adapted, so that all of the stakeholders will be involved at an early stage and retracing will be minimized. In the process mentioned above, the user involve- ment implied that we integrated a ‘stop button’ in the system where the users have the option to override the automatic pro- cesses. These creative ideas never arise from the conventional performance specification processes,” Lars Andersen explains.
A central principle of the ‘From law to back- log’ method is that efforts are made to ensure the fast delivery of an operational solution that only includes the functionality that is absolutely necessary – the so-called ‘Minimum Viable Product’.
“This principle ensures that we avoid the classic situation where the launch of the system is postponed all the time because it takes longer than estimated to comply with all the requirements - the original requirements as well as the new ones emerging during the process. The solution should not necessarily be launched right away, but it ensures that the client has a ready solution at all times. This provides some leeway to consider when the priority of launching the solution exceeds the need for new functions,” Lars Andersen says.