Digital work comes with its fair share of specialised phrases and role titles. It’s almost like another language. Knowing what they actually mean goes a long way to keeping communications clear and efficient between all of us.

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Backlog

A prioritised list of the work needed to be done by a product team to meet its goals. Value-driven workstreams tend to be centred on the user through user stories. Teams can use task-based backlogs where appropriate.

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are cross-organisational groups comprised of practitioners who work in their discipline full-time. The CoPs are non-hierarchical and long-term, and they’re a safe space to focus on how to accomplish something rather than what it delivers. They can define best practice, create learning opportunities, reduce duplication, or be used as support networks.

Content manager

Content managers are responsible for specific sections or pages of the Shelter website. They make sure information is accurate and up-to-date, and work with the Central Digital team to archive or decommission content as necessary. They have a clear understanding of their content, where it’s used, and why, and provide business owners with quarterly reports on its performance.

Content model

In a world where editors are freed to work without developer support via Contentful: The approach we use to ensure Shelter's editorial capacity is used where it has the most impact, and that content is delivered to high standards - in meeting user needs and achieving business goals. We emphasise collaborating across disciplines, (e.g. with Creative Copywriters), delivering value quickly, and an evidence-based, test-and-learn approach.

Content owner

Content owners manage content as part of a live service. They work autonomously on publishing content with their own content team, and regularly report on performance.

Definition of done

A product team creates its own continual definition of done, shared with stakeholders and peers. It defines clear and testable criteria to be met for work to be considered complete. At the core of each DoD is user value delivered.

Definition of ready

Before a team can start on a project or  piece of work, everything they require to complete the work to the standard of the definition of done must be in place. The definition of ready captures those criteria, and work doesn't start until they're all met.

Dependencies

A dependency is anything outside a product team's control that needs to be completed before the team can deliver a product or feature.

In Agile, teams are assembled to try to minimise external dependencies.

Delivery manager

Someone who is responsible for the effectiveness of one or more teams. Teams may be multidisciplinary (e.g. Digital / Creative product teams), but can also be functional (e.g. Marketing, Social Media teams). Delivery Managers help teams to locally optimise their delivery processes and continuously improve. Synonym: Agile Coach.

Devolvement

The process by which the responsibility for a piece of work is decentralised.

Golden thread

A golden thread is a connection between everything we do digitally and one of Shelter's top strategic objectives. If we can't explain how a piece of work ultimately helps deliver an organisational goal, we shouldn't do that work.

Lagging metrics

Lagging metrics let you retrospectively review performance. They show an outcome rather than indicating a trend.

Leading metrics

A leading metric is an indicator of a future business or user outcome you are aiming for. It’s like an early warning sign, allowing you to tweak and pivot when there is still time to change things.

Lifecycle

The lifecycle addresses the fact that the work doesn’t stop once a product or service is launched, but rather we use the live product to learn from users, improve features, and gain insights that feed back into business planning.

The digital lifecycle has three phases that operate in a continuous loop: 1) Future vision and business planning, 2) Creating a live product or service, 3) Operating a live product or service.
Read more about the lifecycle

MVP

MVP is short for Minimal Viable Product. It’s used in product development to test a product or service with users as soon as possible, to see whether it meets user goals as intended. The MVP’s purpose is to answer questions about further investment.

To do this, teams develop a stripped-down version of the product or service, with only the features absolutely needed to fulfil its purpose. It can save a lot of time and money if the product performs differently than expected. After the MVP’s performance is assessed, the next steps can be planned.

MVPs are not suitable for all contexts, but are part of an approach that answers questions earlier than with upfront planning and allows for accommodating unknowns. Typical outcomes that reduce an MVP’s return-on-investment include deploying it without capacity to develop further, or building an MVP with more features than necessary before testing it with users.

Pivot

In product and service development, pivots are changes in strategy or direction. There are different types of pivots based on any of a range of factors: pivots to narrow or widen focus, to change from an application to a platform or vice versa, and several others. See how we use pivots in operating a live service or learn more about them on the Open Classrooms site.

Portfolio

An administrative unit of products and services that together will deliver a defined organisational goal.

Product

A product provides value to a group of users. it provides a benefit or solves a user problem. Services or user journeys may be made up of several products.

Product Manager

Someone who has decision-making authority within a particular node in a value chain. A Digital Product Manager is someone who owns the vision for a digital product, and often wears the hat of a Scrum Product Owner, owning a product team's backlog (in terms of prioritisation and content).

Product model

The approach we use to ensure Shelter's product development capacity is used where it has the most impact, and that services are built to high standards - in terms of meeting user needs, achieving business goals, and achieving high technical quality. We emphasise collaborating across disciplines, delivering value quickly, and an evidence-based, test-and-learn approach.

Programme

A programme is made up of a specific set of projects that together will deliver some defined objective, or set of objectives, for the organisation.

Project

An administrative unit of limited duration by which resource allocation and governance are agreed for a standalone piece of work.

Release plan

A forecast showing the work a team expects to ship in the next one or two quarters.

Ringfencing

Protecting time and/or budget to ensure work is delivered for all or part of a service.

Roadmap

A strategy-level plan, showing the goals and outcomes a team is working towards.

Service

An end-to-end user journey that allows supporters and clients to achieve what they set out to do.

Stakeholder

Someone who has something to gain or lose through the success of a piece of work. Consider partner for more collaborative relationships.

Contact us about the digital framework

Have a question or comment? Found a bug? Or maybe you’d like to contribute to the framework? Use our contact form to get in touch.