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Reviewing the development plan

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Finished, all finished!

Unfortunately, we're not talking about the Digital Recovery Environment (DRE). On Tuesday 2 May we finished the last of our exams, and to celebrate we went on a trip to Thames Valley Park (TVP), Reading; home of Microsoft UK.

We'd been invited down to spend some time with the academic team doing some feedback and planning for the DRE project and to receive some presentation training. Andy had mentioned that there were free drinks available at the offices; it crossed our minds, would they be stocked up with alcohol? :-)

On Wednesday we jumped aboard a train and departed Hull. By 8pm we were in Reading and booking into the TravelLodge, our home for the next four nights. On Thursday we headed off to TVP to go over our development plan and discuss the trip to India.

We spent a lot of time with Paul Appleby, Dianna Terry and Mark Johnston, who all had some great ideas on how we should be developing the application. When we arrived we had a very rigid Gantt chart involving many milestones and a final convergence on a finished product. After much discussion we revised our development plan entirely. Paul introduced us to the idea of personas and scenario driven development; we needed to come up with a group of user personas that we could then develop against. In total we came up with six personas made up of two patients, three relatives and a nurse.

From here we constructed a development plan based on the usage scenarios of each persona, which we later need to code against. Once we had these, we were in a much better position for writing our milestones.

Developing in this way really appears to make things a lot easier. Rather than working towards a single convergence of all layers of the system with full functionality, we are working towards multiple delivery points. Each delivery point has a new aspect of the system, or user experience, fully working and deliverable to the guys down at TVP.

When the first deliverable is complete, we move onto the next scenario and develop that, ensuring the previous scenarios continue functioning correctly as we go. The end result is a development process that ensures we have a fall back which works for given scenarios if we come up against a blocker later in the development process. If all goes according to plan and tempting fate somewhat, there won't be that many blockers.

So, after a very productive day at TVP, we came away with a lot to think about and a far better idea of where the development process is going. All that remained of our trip was for us to go out for a very nice meal with the academic team and then spend the next two days at a presentation training course. More on that tomorrow! ®

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