A Fortune 250 client needed a partner to help them with a new type of innovation. They had deep experience developing technology products focused on large businesses (think the largest retailers and office buildings in the country), yet had never developed a product focused on small to medium sized businesses. For the initial product launch they intended to target these smaller businesses. To do so they needed a partner who could help them better understand those smaller customers, help them figure out what set of features would make the most successful MVP, and who could help them build and deliver the vision on a tight timeline.
When you are working to understand and target a new customer you must identify what's important to them and start to codify that into a set of features that the team can build for a quick launch to test the market. Researching these new customers requires a significant time investment and team focus, and can be difficult to take from data to actionable designs or product features.
By building a blended team of marketing professionals, designers, and developers who are all working side-by-side realtime, you can get customer feedback and see it manifest in the product within days - not weeks. A blended team allows the various functional product roles to be in the room learning together and collaborating to find the best information, requirements, and solutions. A collaborative environment allows team members to build on one another’s ideas, building the best solution by having the right mix of backgrounds and skill sets in the room.
A product owner can face many challenges day-to-day however, the development teams they work with should not be one of them. There are circumstances that can cause a product owner to be less effective and the team should work in a manner that best supports the dynamic between the team and the business. Circumstances like poor vision of the product, product owners not authorized to make decisions, mid-sprint changes to work scope, and directional changes on a regular basis can be detrimental to progress and stressful for everyone involved.
Scrum is a powerful Agile framework and is the most widely used framework in the Agile community. However, if you don’t have a strong product backlog, authority to make decisions, or a way to shield the team from external distractions from the business Scrum can start to fail. What we have done to address this is shift, as a team, to a new framework; Kanban. Kanban has allowed the team to move planning as close to development as possible by doing away with all Scrum ceremonies, except for the daily standup. Standups have become elongated to account for the conversations that occur on other Scrum ceremonies. At each standup we review any work completed and plan for the next pieces of work needed to be completed. This allows the team to do a few things:
DeveloperTown has been able to provide a more flexible environment for the team and product owner while exceeding business demands and providing continued value. We consistently reach or exceed milestones as a team and provide a timely feedback loop between the development team and the business. The project team has grown to encompass three different project teams working together, across multiple timezones and corporate divisions, to leverage both the company’s existing strength (delivering technology solutions at scale) as well as DeveloperTown’s ability to respond quickly, to deliver more than they would have been able on their own, and deliver it to a completely new customer segment.