Digital Skills

Full Stack Development at bitjam

12 Jun, 2017

This blog will make clear the benefits of having full stack development skills when creating your software product. Software products depends on a “stack” of technologies to create a completed, useable product that consists of both client side and server layers. FSD is the method we use to complete a web build or mobile application effectively from beginning to end.

A Full-Stack Web Developer is someone who can create a software product from the back end (database) right through to the front end (interface). At bitjam, we develop software and applications using full stack development meaning we are competent handling all aspects of a software project.

As a software development company we focus on the full cycle, from design, prototype, full system development and deployment.  Having full stack developers means we are able to work quickly and efficiently.

Three Key Roles

Apart from the project manager, there are three crucial roles required to complete a software product. The web developer, the front end developer and the back end developer.

  • The web developer creates custom graphics, and designs the structure and format of a site
  • The front end developer controls everything graphical that runs on a client’s site, and controls how the design is implemented on the site using programming tools and coding languages such as HTML and Javascript
  • The back end developer is the work going on the “behind-the-scenes”, database, such as the internal machinery running on the server which relays data to the front end display

Skills at bitjam

So what are the skills required to become a full stack developer?

  • Agility
  • Reactivity
  • Lucidity
  • Reliability

Our developers at bitjam are able to work quickly, be alert and reactive to changes required or issues that arise in either the front end of back end systems, and can reliably work to project deadlines because they have all of the necessary FSD skills meaning they don’t have to rely on other contributors to complete.

At bitjam we also adopt test driven development to continuously monitor our progress and allow for build repairs as we work. This is the process of writing functional code that is built in tests that runs to check that the code is working. As more code is written, we run these tests to ensure that we haven’t broken anything that was previously built. This allows us to remain, agile, reactive, lucid and reliable throughout the projects, and maintaining the workflow.

Software release cycle

We work to a software release life cycle in order to meticulously plan the project and keep to deadlines. The software release life cycle is the stages of development and maturity of a piece of software which requires both alpha and beta testing phases.

Alpha phase: this is the phase that launches software testing. The first phase of the release cycle in which methods and features are tried and tested. The alpha phase may look very different to the finished product but it allows for co-production techniques to be applied to the creative process, ensuring an efficient workflow and establishing the end result to be achieved to the deadline.

Beta phase: this is the second phase of the release life cycle. It’s usually the first time the software is available outside of bitjam, and may still contain some issues but it serves as a demonstration to clients to establish that the project is on the right track.

Full stack development allows the software release life cycle to remain on track, efficient and reliable, consistently delivering projects to deadline. If you would like to discuss a software product with us, and learn more about how our FSD approach can support your project, contact Carl Plant here.

Carl did a workshop at Staffs Uni with student nurses - carl to send photos. Introducing destiny and mobile moocs to new students. Asked students what they thought of mobile learning - live video, instant chat, should there be more video less text inside the mobile app, the optimum level of push notifications - trying to create the right amount so it’s not annoying. This is for the next phase of destiny which will be to develop the app.
Digital Skills

Destiny 2.0 In Development

17 May, 2017

As work begins on developing the next phase of the Destiny project, Carl returned to the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Staffordshire University to introduce students to the Destiny MOOCs app and mobile e-learning.

The students were asked to share their feedback and what they thought of mobile learning. This included features such as live video, instant chat, the optimum level of push notifications, and even aesthetic detail such as the ratio of video to text within the app. This feedback is valuable to the next phase of the Destiny project which will be to develop the app into something with a positive UX, with bitjam adopting agile methodology and co-production techniques to ensure frequent testing and improvement.

Working closely with the partners at Staffordshire University and students at the School of Nursing and Midwifery is an important part of the development process, encouraging active participation and keeping the project timeline on track. We recently visited the school to get feedback on the project so far, allowing the students a first glimpse at Destiny as a mobile e-learning app. Find out more here.


A Case Study of Agile Development and Co-production in the NHS

4 May, 2017

Part three of our co-production series discusses a successful case study where an agile development framework and co-production techniques were used within the healthcare sector to improve processes and minimise disruption when moving to new systems.

“Adopting SAFe has set in motion the skill development and mindset for successful organisational change even as we scale to new programs, release trains, and people”

– Gary Dawson, Assistant Director, Solutions Delivery.

The NHS Blood and Transplant department (NHSBT) is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority service. They deliver blood supply and solid organs to to hospitals nationwide, which requires safeguarding, collecting, testing, processing and storage that contribute to saving countless lives each year. With an increased need for this service, NHSBT recognised that effective technology was crucial for delivering a safe service for patients. Replacing an ageing infrastructure, migrating to cloud-based technology and replacing critical operational applications was the goal. This required careful consideration with regards to choosing the most efficient way of working, since so many other agencies were interdependent on the current infrastructure and the transformation was of a complex nature.

Adopting a scaled agile framework would allow them to implement the required systematic changes with minimal impact on the existing culture.

The challenges:

  • NHSBT needed to improve business processes and supporting IT environment, realigning infrastructure to cloud based technology
  • The project would also evaluate current IT systems in line with organisational needs
  • NHSBT were challenged to incorporate new technical platforms and architecture with minimal risk to management – the threat of effects on the culture of the organisation

The results:

  • The teams involved worked collaboratively to introduce solutions and training so internal changes were manageable and everybody was working from the same page
  • Introduced SAFe – Scaled Agile Framework: hands-on software delivery
  • A two day workshop to managers explained SAFe
  • Management were given definitive roles within SAFe
  • Planning sessions were organised across the larger organisation to explain SAFe to all employees
  • Developed and worked effectively as a team and projects delivered on time
  • Early delivery of significant business benefits  
  • Skillset and mindset for successful organisational change

Bitjam recognise the ways in which these modern working methods are highly adaptable and efficient, and have been adopting them across many projects for some time now. One example of where we used co-production with a client to create a project that was delivered on time and to a high standard, was Logga – a system for communicating timetables, homework and student progress in collaboration with Sixth Form College. We ran a number of design workshops with the students and set up beta testing groups via Android and the Apple app store. Meeting with teachers and admin staff weekly also contributed to the success of the project, as regular progress was updated and we were all given the opportunity to “give and get”. Read our case study for more details here.
In summary, the adoption of co-production within an agile framework for working, when applied within the public sector has some proven powerful benefits for improving efficiency with the NHS. It’s encouraging to see that the healthcare sector are trying and testing new and better ways of working in order to ultimately improve the end experience for patients, whilst upholding a duty of care to NHS staff who are subject to a fast-paced and evolving environment and need extra support from management during projects and changing processes.