Ubisoft is the video game company behind some of the most well-known games in the industry, including Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Just Dance. The global organization is headquartered in France and has 59 development studios as well as 21,000 employees across the world.
One of the biggest challenges for the organization was how to do the right amount of planning, particularly within a remote working environment, with thousands of people based all over the world. It’s this challenge that prompted the team to find the right tool to help better manage their planning process.
Complex projects years in the making
At Ubisoft, the process to develop and produce a new video game often takes several years. The game will go through several evolutions during this time, and involve multiple project teams. The size of these teams can range from a few dozen people to almost 1,000, making a structured planning process critical.
“When you've got people on five continents working 24/7 trying to bring something together that's never existed before, it's inherently complex,” said David Brickley, Producer at Ubisoft.
“We tried several different tools to overcome this, but the tools were either designed for a low level of detail or they didn’t lend themselves to bringing everything together. There was no structure, so everyone was doing things differently and it was hard to get a cohesive picture.”
The team wanted something that was structured in the right way, very easy to add to, and very quick to re-calibrate.
Getting global teams on the same page
Ubisoft had been using Jira as their standard planning tool for several years, so David turned to the marketplace in his search for a better solution.
“We settled on Easy Agile Story Maps (now Easy Agile TeamRhythm) because it was clear what it could do and how it could help us with the processes we wanted to adopt,” said David. “The out-of-the-box version covered the basics, but it was also very easy to see how people have customized it for further use.”
“There’s a playboard available on the site, so anybody can go in and basically play around with the data to see what it looks like. And that’s fantastic because it was quite an easy pitch and to go to people and say, have a play with this.”
Adopting Easy Agile
The team secured management buy-in fast, following just two weeks of trialling the software. They then began a more in-depth trial of the software (still using their free access), spending around two months using it in a focused way. Any questions during the period were answered within 24 hours, helping cement the decision that this was the right tool for the team.
Since implementing Easy Agile User Story Maps (now TeamRhythm), David has seen several benefits for the business.
Team buy-in and engagement
With the team already comfortable with Jira and Agile principles, using the plugin meant people could easily click, drag, add, and rework until they had the picture they wanted. “The familiarity was super important,” said David of the Jira integration. “The team had the foundations and already knew where it was going, but this added an extra dimension”.
Clear goals and less noise
“The plugin allows us to be much clearer about what we need – and only what we need. By the end of a milestone, we’ve got less noise to deal with, which has also had a considerable impact on team morale,” said David.
Deeper detail and clarity
David found the level of detail helped keep teams on track and productive. “I think its real power is when it comes to our sprints and our milestones, because we can go more granular with the deliverables. We can see both the long-term and the short-term view and make decisions quickly about how to keep the plates spinning in the most productive way”.
Enabling people to be their creative best
Hundreds of Ubisoft employees are now using Easy Agile TeamRhythm as part of their day-to-day work. David is now considering how to share the benefits internally across other teams as he believes it should be part of their ‘bread and butter’.
“We’re trying to build a picture of something that doesn’t exist. What we ultimately should be doing as facilitators of these creative endeavours is to give people the right tools to do the work. So, we’re all about empowering incredibly great creative people that we hire, to put their skills to good use, and not hold them down in digital paperwork.”