Launching new features and how we do it.

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Back in September we launched a stripped down version of Made Open Monmouthshire, six weeks ahead of our schedule. We were nervous about releasing such an early version of the platform to the public but Monmouthshire County Council, our client, had a series of budget consultations with the local community – it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

It turned out to be a really valuable exercise for us. Feedback from the events has been massively positive, which has given everyone a real confidence boost (especially when considering that some major functionality is still being worked on). It has also proved to us that we can adapt our workflow without too much fuss. We are now pushing out features every week as part of continuous deployment.

Last week we launched the “Made Open Community” – a feature where you can search for people based on shared interests, skillsets or location. This week we’ve launched the “History” feature (which helps you to keep track of all your interactions) and the “Activities” feature, which helps you manage your activity (issues or projects) and view your activity stats.

What I’m loving about Made Open at the moment is how, after months and months of laying down the foundations, it’s all coming together really quickly.

I should probably introduce myself at this point. Hi, I’m Phil, Made Open’s PM. I’ve been a regular face in the Sea office for a while now but this is my first foray into project managing our own technology platform. I’ve become a bit of a fan of agile working and JIRA, which have been really important for managing this phase of continuous deployment.

So what’s next?

Well, we have two big deadlines coming up. The 21st November (2014) will see us launch our minimal viable product for Monmouthshire County Council. Our second deadline is 9th December, which will see us launch the free-to-use Vanilla platform to pretty much the whole world.

Have to admit, I’m slightly nervous about this (it’s not everyday you launch a social network). That said, each week we set up our sprints on JIRA and Geoff and Andy (our resident code crunchers) keep nailing functionality and working their socks off to deliver the goods. It’s not always easy but seeing new functionality being added constantly is a real buzz.

Next Monday we are launching the site search. The following Monday we will be launching the “Projects” feature. This is a big piece of work and it’s the functionality I’m most excited about. Users will be able to create a project that allows them to ask for money, volunteers and materials to turn their big or little idea into reality. Essentially we are combining elements of crowdfunding, timebanking and pledging into one space so passionate individuals can get everything they need to have a real impact on their community.

It also needs to include a way for a project leader to organize and manage their volunteers and pledges, which involves communication and delegation so you can see just how involved this piece of functionality is. It’ll be a busy few weeks!

Keep watching this space.