Understanding the Epic: A Closer Look at Agile Software Development

By Lance Hukill, Chief Commercial Officer

In the world of agile software development, there’s a term we use a lot – “Epic.” An Epic for agile software development is much like a novel, a substantive body of work, but in our world, it’s made up of smaller, easier-to-digest pieces known as ‘user stories.’ Picture it like chapters in a book, all contributing to the whole story. Some of the key characteristics of epics are:

  • They stretch over numerous iterations and sprints, just like a novel stretches over many chapters.
  • Epics serve as a roadmap, helping to organize and prioritize the product backlog.

The Spotlight on Our Epic: Building an End-to-End Interoperable Master Format (IMF) Workflow

Now, the epic we’re focusing on here is all about building a fully functional platform to oversee an end-to-end Interoperable Master Format (IMF) workflow. To those outside the industry, the IMF is a universal standard in the production and distribution of digital motion pictures and television programs. By bringing an end-to-end IMF workflow to life, we can deliver some incredible benefits:

  • Smoothing out the production processes, much like a well-oiled machine.
  • Boosting efficiency so that everyone can do more with less.
  • Cutting down costs, who doesn’t love that?

Adding the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Layer: Taking Command of Production

We know how important it is to have control over all production-related work. That’s why we suggest including an Air Traffic Control (ATC) layer – think of it as the command center for your production process.

Our epic story centers around an IMF work process, where we’ve identified three main characters, or as we say in the business, ‘user personas.’ With this incredible system in place, our users can:

  • Set off automated events, giving them a complete Interoperable Master Package (IMP) for the next steps of validation and processing.
  • Utilize an alternate workflow where individual deliverables required for a full IMP are treated as ingredients in a “recipe.”
  • Trust in the system to assemble a standard IMP from these ingredients once all are received.

Boosting User Interactivity and Improving Communication with Notification Mechanisms

Now, our epic for agile software development wouldn’t be complete without keeping our users in the loop. That’s why we’ve included notification mechanisms for every event, keeping both users and the system workflow orchestration layer in sync.

Our users will have the power to interact with the ATC layer in a number of ways:

  • They can create, manage, and keep an eye on activities happening in the workflow process.
  • They have the power to inform a go/no-go decision at any stage in the process.
  • The automated process can help by integrating fully qualified IMP-S files into the original IMP.

End-Point Deliverables: The Balance of Automation and Manual Requests

Just like how every book has an ending, our process too has end-point deliverables. They can be manually requested for predefined, one-off deliveries or produced as part of an automated process once we have achieved certain upstream success factors.

We do require a strict adherence to a predefined Studios delivery package standard, influenced by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, but don’t worry – we’ve made sure it’s easy to follow.

Transparent Troubleshooting: Addressing Failures through ATC

We’ve all experienced hiccups in a process, and our system ensures that if any issues occur, they’re visible through the ATC user interface. Users can easily initiate resubmission or cancellation of a given work process directly from the ATC. Picture it as a “command-Z” option; something went wrong? No problem, let’s take a step back and try again.

Bringing it All Together

In this epic journey, we’ve brought together a wide array of processes, tools, and user interactions. We’ve built a platform that is designed to streamline and simplify the complexities of digital motion picture and television program production.

Just like the chapters of a book, every element in this epic has its unique role, contributing to the grand narrative of increasing efficiency and reducing costs. The ATC layer, the automation, and the user interface all coalesce to deliver a seamless experience, keeping users in control and informed every step of the way.

This story isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of Agile Software Development or about the technicalities of an IMF workflow. At its core, this epic is a story about people – the users who interact with the system, the teams who manage the workflow, and the audience who will ultimately enjoy the results of a smoother, more efficient production process. And that’s the beauty of it: our work may be technical, but it’s all about creating a more engaging, personable, and effective experience for everyone involved.