Alley’s core company values of quality, transparency and accountability closely align with the values of Scrum and, more broadly, the principles of agile software development. However, recent events have led us to consider how the practice of Scrum also supports our community values – radical candor, psychological safety, asynchronous communication, diversity, and inclusion.
Alley Interactive recently worked with the Kaiser Family Foundation to rebuild and relaunch Kaiser Health News — Kaiser Family Foundation’s groundbreaking reporting initiative for the health care industry.
Noah Schoenholtz improved a slow site with unnecessary complexity and helped revamp the entire editorial workflow for KHN’s newsroom.
What were some of the biggest improvements for Kaiser Health News?
We streamlined things for reporters by reducing the number of different types of content they had to deal with in favor of allowing more flexibility. For example, rather than have a separate content type for Multimedia, KHN’s reporters can now include a video on any post.
We wanted to make sure the newsroom could produce great looking content, and that they could do it easily with the tools in the admin.
We also improved the management of their homepage to give reporters a simple way to curate and present their content alongside automatically updated content that pulls in from their other workflows. They can now pull the most recent content from the Morning Briefing and the most recent Cartoons in a slideshow without manual intervention.
How did KHN’s Morning Briefing need to improve?
Morning Briefing’s end result was already great, but the process they had to go through to put it together was painstaking. Most of the workflow was kind of analog, requiring a person to take and process a ton of content, organize it, edit it and publish — mostly using copy and paste. On top of that, she had to duplicate content within their old backend to get all of the parts of the Briefing published correctly.
What are some highlighted features you built for KHN’s Morning Briefing?
We turned an extremely manual and often sequential process into a parallel-collaborative process. A team feeds stories into the system, which end up in a queue for the manager to sort though, make decisions about and organize — using a drag and drop interface rather than copy-pasting.
She can update the queue to pull in new stories as they’re entered throughout her workflow, and she can save and delegate sections of the briefing for review by teammates as she continues working.
We also created a tool to simplify pulling the finished product into their email system for the newsletter. Ideally, the programmed definition of the process will also help make it simpler for the manager to train other people to help manage it, since we all need to take vacations and sick days now and then.