Agile delivery of Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries


Following our successful management of the Oxford Dictionaries Online project, the team at IDM once again asked us to oversee a large website development and migration. This time, the customer was the English Language Teaching division at Oxford University Press.

The Requirement

We were tasked with delivering a new OUP asked for a modern and responsive site with engaging features and content at its core.

As well as migrating content from the old site, we had to implement access control and e-payment to enable delivery of free and premium features. We also had to establish a framework for managing and programmatically placing ads on the site.

New Verve Consulting was asked to manage the migration and development beginning-to-end.

The Challenge

We faced multiple challenges in delivering a solution in under 12 months:

  • a brand new website was to be built from the ground up;
  • a substantial budget had to be managed tightly;
  • a distributed team of 5 software developers had to coordinated;
  • the OUP team were new to agile ways of working;
  • a wide range of stakeholders across both IDM and OUP had to be satisfied.

We also had to overcome a significant hurdle post go-live, when unexpected changes to Google’s page-ranking algorithm caused us to reprioritise and focus all efforts on site SEO.

The Solution

The website was developed iteratively by applying the Agile Scrum methodology. We were responsible for appointing a Scrum Master to the team.

As well as coaching OUP stakeholders in agile methodologies, we also helped many team members adapt to new and collaborative tools such as Jira and Confluence, where work was planned, managed and documented. Tempo Timesheets proved invaluable in measuring and planning team efforts throughout.

With all teams located in different places, it was important for us to stage daily Standups and screen-share Kanban boards using Google Hangouts. We also used the latter for regular demos and retrospectives at the end of each 3-week Sprint.

Applying Scrum and using cloud-based collaborative tools really helped us succeed in a distributed environment. We delivered a great website that met the client’s objectives within budget in November 2014. The current site attracts high traffic and continues to generate revenue through both advertising and subscriptions.

Categories: Project Portfolio Management Jira Software Confluence Tempo

Technologies: Jira Software, Confluence, Tempo Timesheets

< 12 months

we oversaw a significant migration and development project in just 11 months.

600+ man days

we planned and managed over 600 man days of work.

5 developers

at its peak, we managed a team of 5 software developers.

"We worked with New Verve on a large-scale redesign of our learner’s dictionaries website and were delighted with their professional approach to project management which, married to their technical expertise, allowed us to deliver the project on schedule and to specification."

- Patrick White, Content Director, ELT Dictionaries and Reference Grammar
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