Using Agile to deliver Oxford Dictionaries Online


Oxford University Press (OUP) is the largest university press globally and the second oldest. With offices in 50 countries, it publishes print and digital content in over 40 languages across a broad academic and educational spectrum.

The Global Academic Business at OUP wished to migrate Oxford Language Dictionaries Online from its previous home to join their premium English and Arabic modules at, creating a single destination for users to explore the language of today.

The Requirement

In 2013, IDM was commissioned to develop a new responsive website serving free and premium dictionaries. New Verve Consulting was recruited by IDM as project managers.

As well as migrating significant volumes of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries from the old site, the team was tasked to implement:

  • an access control mechanism for authenticating premium users;
  • social media integration with Google and Facebook sign-in;
  • e-payment capabilities using PayPal;
  • free and premium features;
  • up-selling hooks using advertising serving principles;
  • advertising management and placement.

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 over 10 software developers had to coordinated;
  • a wide range of stakeholders across both IDM and OUP had to be satisfied.

The Solution

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

Scrum is designed to handle evolving business strategy, priorities, and requirements. Tools make these realities much easier! This is why the project was managed using a variety of cloud-based tools:

  • Jira for managing the product backlog and ongoing work;
  • Confluence for collaborating on specifications and project documentation;
  • Balsamiq for designing UI mockups;
  • Gliffy for drafting processes and workflows;
  • Fisheye/Crucible for Git code review and insights
  • Tempo timesheets for religiously tracking and planning team time;
  • Trello for retrospectives;
  • Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting for rituals such as daily standups and demos.

Applying Scrum and using cloud-based collaborative tools really gave us an edge and helped us to deliver a great website that met the client’s objectives, was within budget, and was on time in February 2014.

We managed two further phases of development between May 2014 and March 2016 when OUP took a different strategic direction.

Categories: Project Portfolio Management Jira Software Confluence Tempo

Technologies: Jira Software, Confluence, Trello, Fisheye, Crucible, Balsamiq, Gliffy, Tempo Timesheets

< 12 months

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

2000+ man days

we planned and managed over 2000 man days of work across a total of 3 phases.

10+ team members

at its peak, we managed a team of over 10 software developers and testers.

3 years

we managed the development and ongoing maintenance of the website for 3 years.

"Nigel’s calm, organized, and intelligent approach always gave me confidence that our development projects would be delivered successfully. He worked tirelessly with the online dictionary team to ensure the best job would be done."

- Judy Pearsall, Dictionaries Director
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