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Sprint Facilitation

Once you have developed problem statements, recruited participants, and spent some time preparing, you are ready to launch the sprint! In the next steps, you will find information on different phases of the sprint, including milestones, which are check-ins where facilitators and participants share resources and information, while tech teams provide progress updates and receive feedback. In addition to suggested timelines, we offer guidance of what to cover during each milestone and suggestions for how participants can use the time between calls.

Step 1:
Ongoing Tasks

Time: 12-14 weeks

Effort:

This section outlines tasks that will be ongoing throughout the sprint that ensure the process runs smoothly. These tasks include scheduling and facilitating milestone calls, sending emails with key actions sprint participants should be engaging in between milestones, and making connections between participants.

Key Actions

1

Read the entirety of the Sprint Facilitation Phase materials

2

Send calendar invitations for milestone calls 1-2 weeks in advance

Facilitating milestones at the same time and day of the week allows for the most effective cadence

3

Develop a facilitation guide for each milestone call

Use the template in Resources below and refer to the details in the following steps

4

Facilitate milestone calls

5

Send emails and Slack posts with key actions sprint participants should be engaging in between milestones

Refer to details in the below sections for guidance

6

Connect tech teams with user advocates and data and policy experts

7

Monitor the progress of each tech team, and check in 1:1 as needed

Resources

Milestone Facilitation Guide Template

Use this template to develop facilitation guides for milestone calls

Step 2:
Kickoff

Time: 1-2 weeks

Effort:

The kickoff call launches the sprint in the first week. This is an opportunity for all sprint participants to learn who else is participating, as well as to better understand the problem statements. During the kickoff phase, tech teams should be solidifying which problem statement they will be focusing on and beginning to develop a plan for their work during the sprint.

Key Actions

1

Facilitate a kickoff call

To Learn More

  • Sprint facilitators provide high-level information on the sprint process and timeline
  • Sprint participants (e.g., TOPx facilitation team, tech teams, user advocates, problem statement leads) introduce themselves
  • It is not necessary for data stewards to attend this milestone
  • Agency problems statement leads offer background on each challenge

Resources

Tips on Leading a Meeting with Remote Participants

Explore this guide on best practices for leading meetings remotely

Step 3:
User Research

Time: 3-4 weeks

Effort:

After the kickoff call, tech teams will begin user research. During this time, tech teams will connect with user advocates, who will offer insights into the communities they represent. A user research milestone call will provide an opportunity to check in with teams on their conversations with user advocates and others who can offer insights into the needs and challenges of potential end users.

This phase of sprint facilitation is higher touch, as participants are just beginning to be onboarded and will likely require direction and introductions.

Key Actions

1

Provide teams with resources on user research

Consider sharing some of the resources provided below

2

Tech teams should begin connecting with user advocates to conduct user research and learn more about the needs and pain points of the communities they represent

Tech teams should also consider reaching out to additional advocacy organizations, service providers, or others with direct experience with the challenge

3

Consider facilitating a problem statement 101 call

If your challenge involves technical information that would help orient the tech teams, share background on the challenge, along with details of technical terms, data, past solutions, and any additional relevant information

4

Facilitate a user research milestone advocates

To Learn More

  • Sprint facilitators emphasize that user research should be ongoing throughout the sprint
  • Tech teams share about their target end users, as well as plans for continued user research
  • Sprint facilitators, user advocates and problem statement leads provide feedback to each team, suggesting additional ways to reach potential end users

Resources

What is User Research

Offers an overview of user research, as well as additional resources to explore

How to Conduct User Interviews

Provides tips on how to develop interview questions and conduct user interviews

Empathy Isn't Enough

Written by a past TOP participant, this article is about the user research workshop, user interviews, and other methods they used to build a useful tool for youth experiencing homelessness

Step 4:
Data Exploration

Time: 2-3 weeks

Effort:

After the user research phase, encourage tech teams to begin exploring potential data sets. A data exploration milestone offers teams an opportunity to learn about relevant data sets from data stewards. Before and after the milestone, tech teams will begin connecting with data stewards via email and phone to learn more about available data sets and ask questions.

This phase of sprint facilitation is higher touch, as participants are still being onboarded and will likely require direction and introductions.

Key Actions

1

Encourage tech teams to begin data exploration

To Learn More

  • In addition to the data sets identified by the problem statement leads and data stewards, provide tech teams with additional resources to explore open federal data
  • Consider sharing the resources provided below
  • In preparation for the data exploration milestone, tech teams can begin exploring the data sets and identifying questions they would like clarified by data stewards in the milestone call
  • Before the milestone, tech teams should have an understanding of what type of data they are looking for

2

Facilitate a data exploration milestone call

To Learn More

  • Sprint facilitators emphasize requirement that products utilize open government data
  • Data stewards provide introduction to data sets
  • Tech teams give brief updates on what data they are looking for
  • Q&A session facilitated by data stewards

Resources

Data.gov

Search over 200,000 data sets from federal agencies

Stack Exchange

A vibrant open data community, which is a great place to ask questions and find quick answers to your data and developer-related questions

Step 5:
Product Development

Time: 5-6 weeks

Effort:

Over the course of the next 5-6 weeks, tech teams will develop their products. About 2 weeks into the product development phase, tech teams will present initial demos of their product ideas. All sprint participants should join the demos to offer each team feedback

This phase of sprint facilitation becomes much lighter touch, as tech teams will be focused on product development.

Key Actions

1

Encourage tech teams to begin preparing for an initial demo by engaging in scoping, ideation, design and development

2

Facilitate an initial demo milestone

To Learn More

  • Sprint facilitators assign each tech team a short time slot during the milestone call, which is best facilitated via video conferencing. Tech teams share their initial progress
  • There will likely be significant variation in terms of progress and product maturity. Some teams may present powerpoint presentations with initial concepts, while others may have wireframes, mockups, or initial tools in progress
  • Sprint facilitators, user advocates, problem statement leads, data stewards, and other tech teams offer feedback to each team

3

After the demo, encourage teams to:

  • Incorporate feedback from the demo
  • Begin testing their products. User advocates can help to identify potential end users who could serve as beta testers of the tools
  • Identify at least one key metric they plan to use for measuring usage and impact (e.g., number of downloads, number of users)
  • Consider sharing the resources provided below as tech teams continue product development, begin usability testing, and develop plans for measuring impact

Resources

TOP Product Development Toolkit

A resource that walks technologists through the TOP model for civic tech product development

How to Implement an Effective Usability Test

Key steps to effective testing include articulating a purpose, determining qualitative and quantitative metrics, choosing a comfortable setting, and recording sessions.

Analyzing Usability Testing Data

Analyze testing data by grouping insights into distinct categories and gather insights on your product.

25 Actionable Mobile App Metrics You Should Track

Suggestions for metrics to track when measuring impact of your tool

Step 6:
Sprint Wrap-up

Time: 2 weeks

Effort:

In the last two or so weeks of the sprint, start wrapping up the sprint. This will involve beginning to plan an end-of-sprint event or Demo Day, as well as facilitating final demos.

This phase of sprint facilitation becomes much lighter touch, as tech teams will be focused on product development.

Key Actions

1

Decide what kind of end of sprint event you will host after the sprint concludes

To Learn More

  • Set a date and time. Consider facilitating an event a few weeks after the end of the sprint
  • Choose how to showcase the products
  • This can be done through “lighting talks,” during which each team speaks for a few minutes about their use case, end users, and product through a series of slides.
  • Alternatively during live demos, teams show attendees demonstrations of their working products

2

Tech teams should begin to prepare for a Final MVP Demo, where teams will present an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, which has enough features to allow for testing

3

Facilitate a Final MVP Demo

To Learn More

  • Sprint facilitators assign each team a time slot during the milestone call. Each team will: identify their intended end user; walk through the user journey (the steps a user might take to interact with the tool); identify what federal data was incorporated during the sprint
  • Sprint facilitators, user advocates, problem statement leads, data stewards, and other tech teams offer feedback to each team

4

After the demo, encourage tech teams to:

  • Incorporate feedback from the demo
  • With input from user advocates, continue to test their product
  • Develop plans for product development and deployment after the sprint
  • Tech teams can coordinate with user advocates and community organizations who can share the products with intended end users through their outreach platforms. Also consider sharing the resources provided below

Resources

Knight Foundation - Five Lessons From Investing in Civic Tech

Consider the importance of partnering with organizations that have existing heavy web traffic with your end users, as well as creating a strong physical presence in the community you seek to impact

IDEO.org - Start with People, Design for Partners

Consider some of these tips on developing impactful partnerships