Current and next-generation digital solutions can help deliver unified experiences to our customers and support their business systems. We also know that teams and partners contribute to the multidisciplinary approach to customer experience and unified transformation of processes and products.
At Modyo, we’ve been through the necessary growing pains to know that any implementation is always accompanied by multidisciplinary work and products or services, which far from being perfect, seek to be scalable, iterable and proactive over time.
If there’s something that all our use cases have in common, it’s that they never start at the first line of development. Use cases like public sites, onboarding, PWAs, payment integrations, or product widgets, are all prepared with solid foundations and a perspective of “how do we build this so that it will evolve and iterate over time with clients and partners?”
The problem. The challenge.
We know that it’s common to lean on the work of functional teams and leave agility issues to technical areas. This separates most daily processes among sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and even POS teams, including them on demand.
People within these common organizational structures grow accustomed to specialized teams that promote initiatives as if in a relay race. Delivery, then, is about whoever gets the most, or sells the most, or moves the fastest, aside from the costs involved.
We’ve learned, however, that this is painful for a number of reasons:
Teams don’t share initiatives
Instead of working towards common goals, they incidentally generate self-destructive cycles within the organization.
The black box problem
Channels or areas operate within monoliths or black boxes as tools. As a consequence, communication between the points of contact with the customer is cut off.
Often, knowledge remains in a hermetic environment and process reinvention, leaks of information, and the need to start from scratch happens with the loss of each expert.
Lack of coordination
The simple disparity of growth or development and breakthroughs among different teams.
Business agility is more important that team agility
For these scenarios, Klaus Leopold in his book Rethinking Agile mentions several interesting concepts, among those that although may seem obvious, is absolutely vital to internalize quickly before it generates painful consequences or intensifies the situations mentioned above.
"An agile organization is not created by optimizing elements in isolation from each other; in most cases, this involves teams."
– Klaus Leopold, Rethinking Agile.
Now that you understand the problem, let’s detail 5 lessons learned that we at Modyo have, with intention, manifested and grown through:
1. Connect processes and tools with cross-functional teams in min
When it comes to agile, it’s common to focus on functional teams. The vocabulary around this usually centers around clusters, cells, digital factories, and money is invested in preparing and restructuring the cycle of these groups in isolation. Then, the organization integrates them with other processes and teams that, in theory, "should not be added to the daily practice, but to the agile mindset."
Klaus recommends that we rethink this approach, and from a practical point of view we’ve found that it’s much more effective when we generate efficient communication networks and establish processes and tools that facilitate cross-management between teams, and that they join each process more organically in order to focus on end-to-end delivery. There are a number of benefits:
Feedback makes sense and solutions are launched much faster.
The lifting of restrictions is better managed.
The value chain of the products and services sold are more consistent.
At Modyo, we’ve learned the importance of this. We’re staking a claim that it’s more efficient to have an integral cycle where more than just the "agile team" participates. The cycle involves all teams, making it easier to iterate the process from beginning to end. This not only reduces the number of problems that crop up, but also saves time and money.
2. Collaborative constraint lifting is more efficient
We know that people are more important than processes, so part of a healthy look at delivery and organizational culture has been to learn how to argue about problems oriented from a process-perspective, and not oriented toward people.
Learning to detect the weakest link in the process is not a hunt for teams or individuals but, as suggested by the theory of constraints or TOC (Theory of Constraints), helpful to generate efficient, frequent conversations that generate moments of learning and acclimatize teams to see the iteration of problems and obstacles as a healthy process for delivery.
Both our clients and partners have been a fundamental part of that feedback, which facilitates and allows us to have key conversations in order to make real changes and solve pain points in numerous processes, finding solutions in an intentional and iterative way.
3. Standardization of bases and flexibility of methods
One of the things we learned from Greek and Roman architecture is that columns or foundations are important. Regardless of how a structure or architectural style is defined, the key is to establish some general points without telling the architect or team how to place each piece.
A good transformation process and a healthy digital culture does not fall on a specific team. Nor is it an exclusive talk. It also isn’t the absolute standardization of artifacts to homogenize and force teams to do everything the same.
On the contrary, good transformation and healthy organizational culture is a constant exercise where the best ambassadors are the people of the organization and its evolution depends on daily practice.
At this point, we’re not talking about spaces to educate teams about agility. We’re talking about managing processes and actions where our primary clients (collaborators or workers) are active participants during construction. There are a few key practices that we know work well:
Dedicate time to documenting key and global processes.
If the team talks about a shortcoming, go deeper and help them quickly understand if it really is a problem or if it’s a manageable situation that can be fixed.
Organically enable spaces to discuss failures and execute solutions among specialists and multidisciplinary teams.
Enable tools to build work habits that promote remote or face-to-face efficiency.
Be flexible and know how to integrate humor, a good meme, kindness, and questions to relax spaces that require important negotiations as well as moments for teams to rest.
4. Optimizing the time of the entire value chain
Many of us dream of extra hours in the day to get done and deliver, but the problem isn’t solved by lengthening or extending time. Plus, it’s impossible. But our teams have collectively learned a few tips along the way:
Efficiency and healthy time management is not an individual but a collective issue.
Enabling tools that allow user-friendly visualization of time is a fantastic investment.
Setting meetings with clear objectives before the meeting itself is critical. If you handle many clients or cases, create a culture of colors, acronyms and simple elements that help important points stick in people’s minds.
Take notes, record videos or give the team the freedom to choose how to remember their commitments and tasks.
5. Data analysis over influence
Asking the right questions is a habit that, like drops of water, breaks the stone until more water flows. Before selling a solution and even incorporating it in your backlog, it’s important to think about functions and features. What’s part of the delivery must be part of the end solution, meaning that it’s not only practical, but fast and valuable too.
Let’s be very clear: it is not the same thing to debug backlogs of 300 initiatives that are based on requests from influential people in the organization, as it is to debug 100 improvements based on data or data analysis.
Data is the protagonist. When delivery is in the hands of a partner or external team to our organization, people often think that the digital solution is the responsibility of the "external Agile team." But this could not be further from the truth. The truth is that the responsibility starts with data delivered by teams such as customer service, marketing, UX/UI, sales, and operations where initial requests to build or modify something came from.
This requires a transversal way of thinking to filter upward with a product approach from previous sessions, objectives, the data itself and the insights it provides.
Data analysis to make prior decisions
Functions do not replace the actions of other teams.
Large amounts of data without analysis does not generate value.
Getting ahead of analysis and documentation delivery before reaching the backlog is vital.
Don't leave your organization dependent on a third party to analyze data or learn about accessibility, usability and best practices. External partners change but internal partners endure.
Data analysis to review delivery efficiency
Delivery time: teams need to see their evolution over time and measure how fast they’re delivering.
Quality in delivery: teams should be consistent in measuring the quantity of how much they’re delivering as a performance metric and to evolve over time.
Include improvement in your backlog process to not only technical debts or functions. Also include automation of operational tasks, and solutions that let you iterate on your metrics.
Seek improvements and implement changes to evolve the product in conjunction with your business teams.
Agile and digital transformation today isn’t about individual teams. It’s about organizations that want to be future-ready and pave the way with truly good intentions. But it's in the hands of teams to collectively manage a better way to build, to launch, and to improve. Leverage data from your digital channels and define your metrics to make informed decisions that benefit your customers and your teams.
Building with Modyo leads to collaborative acceleration not only of products but of teams in a way that scales your solutions over time. Reach out to us and let’s talk about how you can build better solutions with a composable frontend platform.