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Alion | 100% remote Design Sprints? Yes we can!

100% remote Design Sprints? Yes we can!

Alion blog author

Tim van Spronsen

13 May 2020

min read

Alion blog intro image

At Alion we determine the right approach for each individual project. We often surprise our customers by proposing Design Sprints. It doesn't take months of work, nor bags of money, but it does involve a couple of days of hard work and it leads to a beautiful product. In some (rare) situations it's impossible to sit down with our clients and we have to meet up remotely. No problem at all! Do not cancel anything, we have a way to make it work anyway! Digital power at its finest. Read how we and our clients do it anyway.

The Design Sprint basics

Just a quick recap of what a design sprint is: at Alion it's a process to solve big challenges quickly, develop new products or expand existing products. This way projects that usually take months to finish, will be comprised to just four to five days. This will save you a lot of time and money. But above all, the result will be available quick so you'll be in business fast. It's the perfect way of working for anticipating new opportunities. My colleague Stephen tells you all about it in this article about Design Sprints.

Intense cooperation, from offline to online

In most cases, especially with new clients, it's good to meet 'in real life' first. At our office in the city of Delft or at the office of our client to get a taste of the company vibe. Sometimes an intense week of cooperation in a single office is required, but some situations make it hard to realise this. Think of long commutes, personal injuries or an extreme situation like this COVID 19 thing we have going on right now. These situations call for a different approach. An approach in which we look at the essence of a physical meetup and what is needed to achieve the same results. It means we keep the general setup of the Design Sprint intact, but translate it to a 100% remote approach.

Digital tools for Design Sprints

Video calls and virtual white boards are our pillars for remote working. For our video calls we use either Google Hangouts, Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Whichever our client prefers. Our white board and post-it addictions can also still be satisfied in these times with Miro. It's the best 1 on 1 digital alternative for these commonly used brainstorming materials. It might secretly even be better than the real deal!

These applications are means to continue existing cooperations online. The strength of it is in the approach: we do not want to lose the speed and efficiency of our Design Sprints. To be honest, we can guard these even better than usual using these tools, we can schedule our planning better and make everyone gets the same ammount of time to give their input. The big advantage of this is that we have more time, so we can involve even more stakeholders than before - whether it's one or more of our colleagues, a project member from our client or one of our client's customers. Working remote makes it way easier for anyone to participate in calls, from anywhere, at any time.

Co-ordination and creation can be just as smooth and efficient as normal. In the last steps of the Design Sprint we execute the usability tests. We make sure those can also be done online. Under our supervision and with the help of platforms like Maze en Lookback we can perform these tests without any problem.

Working remote, what does that actually look like?

Working 100% remote with Design Sprints asks for a different approach. Because physical meetings have a different impact from digital ones. Here's what we do:

  • We shorten the sessions, so we can keep our efficiency and flexibility.
  • We have more breaks. Just to have some time to stretch the legs, get away from the computer screen en to have more flexibility/space for a range of home situations.
  • Extra attention for anyone's input, we give the participants their own time and space for giving their input.
  • Someone can't participate in a live session? We make sure their input will be taken in anyway (for instance by assignments outside of the session).
  • Also outside of the sessions assignments (homework ;-)) will be handed out, after which we discuss the results online. This is very efficient.

Don't cancel projects, take them on!

Curious to see how we can help you realise your ideas or wishes remotely? Or how we can custom fit our process to your challenge? Contact Daan (sales) or Tim (strategist).

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