At a glance

2021 - 2022
CivicTheme, Drupal, LAGOON
Federal government
Discovery & strategy, Design & user research, Build & migration, Content & training, Hosting & maintenance, Support & optimisation, Technical advisory
GovTech, Whole of government, Open design, Open source, Web development, Open platform, Content management systems
User needs, Multidisciplinary teams, Agile delivery, Tools & systems, Design, Open standards & common platforms, Open source


The challenge

A federal agency (that can’t be named for security reasons) needed a new online portal. It was a large, complex project with many stakeholder groups, specialists, disciplines and contractors — all across multiple locations. The challenge was to lead this multidisciplinary team toward one shared goal.

The transformation

Salsa used our extensive experience leading multidisciplinary projects to bring together multiple stakeholder groups and three delivery partners to run and build a successful, large-scale project. We used proven tools and processes to deliver.

The outcomes

  • A true ongoing partnership with our client

  • A collaborative relationship

  • The feeling that we’re one team even though we’re spread across multiple organisations and locations

Full case study

The challenge — bringing together a diverse team

The client needed a strong team to build its new, classified portal. After Salsa won the contract, we needed to start the discovery process, bringing the teams together. The challenge was to coordinate the different teams to meet the requirements, within budget. For example, the requirements informed the functionality, which in turn needed to inform the design and build. However, budget limitations also informed design decisions. Each person needed to understand what the customers’ requirements meant for their specific area of expertise. And it needed to come together harmoniously.

The challenge was to lead this multidisciplinary team toward one shared goal.

The transformation — a shared goal

Leading a large, multidisciplinary project is about fitting multiple puzzle pieces together to form one coherent team, with a shared picture and a coherent solution. In this case, the project consisted of:

  • Multiple stakeholders across the federal agency, including the main project team (based in Canberra)
  • Our design partner, Oliver GraceExternal Link (key team members based in Melbourne and Sydney)
  • Our platform partner, amazee.ioExternal Link (key team members in New Zealand)
  • Salsa specialists (based in Melbourne and Brisbane)

Salsa’s business analyst/engagement manager needed to communicate with all parties, bridging the gap between each team member’s area of expertise. The engagement manager was also responsible for making sure the project was delivered on time and on budget.

Working with a geographically spread out team, our tools and ways of working were also very important. For example, we conducted discovery sessions and visual workshops over Zoom, and also used Zoom for daily standups and other ad-hoc meetings.

The visual workshops were facilitated by Oliver Grace. User requirements were broken down into sections, with stakeholders from the client sketching out some of the important elements for key pages. The Oliver Grace team then brought these inputs together, leading discussions on how requirements could be represented visually.

Once Oliver Grace had created the wireframes, these were again taken back to the Salsa technical team for review to ensure that any (potentially unnecessary) technical complexities could be avoided. The wireframes were amended accordingly and the process was repeated with the high-fidelity designs before they were put forward for sign-off. This was how we bridged the knowledge gap between the design team, our client, and the technical team that would be implementing the final, signed-off visuals.

Other key tools included:

  • Figma for design files
  • Jira for tickets and the development work (shared Jira board for all team members)
  • Slack for day-to-day comms (shared channel, to bring together the entire team)
  • Team Retro for retrospectives at the end of each sprint

Salsa varied the templates for each retro, to ensure engagement across a longer project and to draw out different elements. Some of the templates included:

  • Future considerations, lessons learned, accomplishments and problem areas (it’s nice to acknowledge accomplishments, particularly if you’ve hit key milestones or had a difficult sprint)

  • Keep, add, less, more

  • What went well, what went less well, what we want to try next, what puzzles us

  • Wishes, risks, appreciations and puzzles

With a combination of the right tools and Salsa’s proven processes, it didn’t take long to get the entire project team working as one.

The outcomes — a true partnership

  • A true, ongoing partnership with our federal agency client

  • A high degree of trust between all team members

  • A collaborative relationship that allows us to work through challenges together

  • The feeling that we’re one team even though we’re actually spread across multiple organisations and locations

  • A successful, large-scale project that demonstrates Salsa’s ability to lead, manage and collaborate with a multidisciplinary blended team, across several partners and stakeholder groups, in a remote and distributed environment