If you have a Pulse, you have a purpose!

What I learnt by building our Pulses feature using the agile approach.
If you have a Pulse, you have a purpose!
Enricko Smith

Trying to please everyone is a fool’s errand, but at Hi5 we like taking on the impossible. I was tasked to build what would be our new “Do-all-that-ends-allPulses platform.

This survey platform would need to allow users to add their own questions, set deadline dates and create pulse responses based on minimal effort from the user. It also needed to be intelligent in terms of setting parameters for the pulses (who is rated, who will participate, how often they are reminded and on which platforms, what are the goals assigned to individual) along with a host of other features.

This left us faced with a mammoth of a task that would easily consume an entire dev team for months! Luckily, we’re an agile company, which means we can iterate quite quickly. Lets take a look under the hood:

Our agile approach

What is Agile Management?

Agile project management focuses on continuous improvement, scope flexibility, team input, and delivering essential quality products. Agile project management approaches include scrum as a framework, extreme programming (XP) for building in quality upfront, and lean thinking to eliminate waste. ~ Mark C. Layton

With the Agile approach we were able to work on chunks at a time that could all be Designed > Developed > Tested and reworked based on what we found in the Discovery phase.


1. The questions needed to be dynamic, such that the user may add an infinite amount if necessary.

2. They need to allow for a a range of choices (smaller chunk; provide 5 question types as a start).

3. Ability to set text for the above types (drop-down or linear scale).

Our end result for Pulse creation

3 iterations, an empty coffee machine and 3 weeks later, Pulses Beta was born. Next, we incorporated your goals and company values as a question type. This meant that you could set up a pulse that gathered performance and culture data all in one place, providing insights that otherwise would be missed.

Here are some scamps and wireframes that helped us plan:

Planning Pulse types
Planning Employee/Participator view
Planning Admin view of results
Planning the reporting view for Individual results
Scamping up idea for reporting on Culture

So, what has all of this taught me?

  1. Sprint Management: By producing frequent builds that could be tested and reviewed in an iterative model, we are able to fix things at a rapid rate. This means the product keeps improving.
  2. Early Prototyping: Everyone can see what the end product will look like, so any changes can be done relatively quickly.
  3. Working Software: Getting your software working  is goal №1, but getting it to work properly is the key 🗝️. Laborious planning and building for months on end, only gives you software that can’t be shipped. This is a nightmare for any project team. Working in iterations means the software (even at MVP stage) is working and shipped very quickly, then refined as we get user feedback.

Developing software using the agile model has helped us as a team and company immensely. With agile it is quick to see your results and to incorporate and implement changes. If we compare this process with a traditional approach, one can easily see the immense benefits of agile development.

Agile is about doing as opposed to being paralyzed by over-planning; in agile you get the minimal necessary requirements and then the real work starts.

Looking for a great pulse survey tool?
Try Hi5 (free 14-day trial).