Agile methodologies will help you and your team to build world-class, user-centred services quickly and affordably.

This way of working can be very different for those used to long specifications and procurement processes, but it’s essential for producing high-quality services to a standard that many users expect.

Watch Roo Reynolds, GDS product manager, describe agile

Agile projects

An agile project is about creating fast iterations of products based on the feedback of real users.

It means regularly releasing small pieces of functionality; constant communication between team members, and using equipment that displays progress being made by your team (eg project management software or whiteboards).

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User stories

User understanding is the most important factor when creating a service, so you need to have a clear understanding of what users need and make sure those needs are met. You can achieve this by writing user stories.

A user story is generally one or more sentences in length and describes:

  • who the user is
  • what they need from the service
  • why they need it

These user stories will help your team to produce the required features of your service, and writing them well can make a huge difference to the quality and speed of development.

Learn how to write effective user stories.

Main features of agile

Product development during an agile project is broken into different stages, called sprints.

In a sprint, team members aim to achieve goals within set timeframes. A sprint at GDS generally lasts a week and runs from Wednesday to Tuesday, however other agile development teams may run longer or shorter sprints.

Have daily team meetings (stand-ups). Stand-ups are an opportunity for members of your team to discuss:

  • the previous day’s work
  • what they plan to work on
  • any blockers to their progress

Learn how to structure sprint cycles and stand-ups.


Run retrospectives at the end of each sprint. A retrospective should cover:

  • what went well
  • what went badly
  • how to improve the working environment or process for the next sprint

Retrospectives can also increase in scope to cover full projects or project phases.

Learn how to run a retrospective