Explaining MVP and Inflexible Deadlines, for the UF Digital Collections

I’m working on explaining and getting people to feel/understand MVP as minimum viable product. We need this because the UF Digital Collections include components that are on older technologies, so old that UF will cease support in 2023. That means we have to move before 2023. With a firm deadline, we cannot be flexible on features, so we have to work from MVP. I’ve been explaining this in a quicker (and incomplete) manner with bridges, but now we need a longer story to deal with more of the actual complexity, and we still need it to be a story that peopel can visualize-see so that they can understand when we ask for feedback on the MVP. Below is what I have so far, and this is on our guide on the development/migration to the new UFDC.


A core tenant of agile is that you can be flexible on features or timelines, never both.

We have a fixed or inflexible timeline – we have to migrate by 2023, when current systems will not be supported.  Below is a story to communicate status and timeline.

Story for UFDC

The story below explains DSS as a book bindery and UFDC as a library built by that bindery. The timeframe uses 1 digital year as equal to 7 analog years (DSS started as the DLC in 1999, and UFDC started in 2006). 

Over a century ago, there was a book bindery. Thanks to technology magic, it could keep a copy of each book it bound. With this magic, the book bindery opened a library in the bindery building. Thus, two groups operated in 1 building:

  1. Bindery with 16 workers
  2. Library for patrons

This was fine at first, with only an occasional patron. The library grew and grew, with more and more patrons. Now, the library has millions of patrons. And, no bathroom on the first floor and other things that are not okay. These problems only exist because: 1) the library did not start as a library, and, 2) the library was built so long ago.

Everyone knows a new library is needed. And, now there is a hard deadline. The current building will be demolished in 2023.

Thus, a plan was developed:

  1. First, build a new library [MVP for 2021]
  2. Then, build a new bindery to continue to add books to the library [MVP for 2022]
  3. Then, make improvements from a solid foundation

For the new library building, many other things are wanted (the new location has space for more, and things wanted include a garden and a colonnade connecting to archives; also, everyone wants improvements in how the books are classified, which requires working with many people in order to develop a plan). [Not MVP]

There is only 1 building and organization crew. If we spend time talking to them about the garden and other improvements, it takes time away from building the library.  If we work on anything outside of core requirements, we are at risk of not having a new library before our current one is demolished. Anything not MVP must be treated as outside (garden/colonnade), and dealt with later, to ensure we have a new library before the old one is demolished.

Current Goals:

  1. New library: New patron interface (new UFDC) in operation by 2022
  2. In 2022, new bindery: focus on the MVP for a full rebuild of DSS production
    1. The DSS team also has many future goals for automation within. Again, we only have the 1 team who can build this, and working on new things means current systems could go dark without a new one in place.
    2. We are working to develop the MVP list now to be shovel ready by 2022, and to ensure delivery of MVP by 2023.
  3. After new library and bindery buildings (after MVP):
    1. Once we have the new buildings, for the next phase, we will define and undertake projects that build from the existing MVP.

In parallel, other work

While we only have 1 building crew (Digital Development Team), we do have library workers (DSS, SASC, LT&DS, Social Media, Curators, others), who are preparing for the new library (new UFDC), with clean-up projects underway:

  • PCMI – think of this like records that have no items on the shelves
  • YouTube – think of this like DVD cases with no way to get the DVDs in them for the users
  • Aggregations, closing empty/small to go from 1000 to 500 – think of these like reading rooms – we have hundreds that are empty or have less than 100 items; in a physical library, it would be like calling a single shelf a reading room, or a door that opens into a wall a reading room
  • FAQ in development – https://guides.uflib.ufl.edu/lts/newufdc