We were pleased to eat our own dog food. We are delighted to drink our own champagne. Knowing the principles and practices we encourage our clients to adopt helps them achieve tremendous benefit, it’s good to get a slice of it for ourselves in our most recent product development.
We wrote about our experience in developing our own website back in October 2012 – time flies. We ate the dog food – we used the principles and practices our clients benefit from and we proved they worked for us.
It gets sweeter. Our most recent product development for our new training app has proved to be an incredible success and we want to share the experience.
We believe in fast feedback because it can be acted upon and add significant value to any product. It is true of training – our training courses are based upon our own product delivered by expert trainers, with the core content developed over years and kept current and relevant. To support this we developed our unique style of gathering and sharing feedback, measuring the specific impact we have on every group of people we train. We perfected this approach to the point that clients received a formal feedback report within 24 hours of completion – sometimes even with 30 minutes.
However, we got to a position where we believed we could do better on two counts:
- Improving the process for collecting and reporting feedback and reducing our effort;
- Speed and ease of access to feedback by our clients.
So we invested in a new app. We made it very clear from the start what we were setting out to do with a product vision statement:
For Agility in Mind’s
- course attendees and
Instant Course Feedback
Is a responsive web application.
It is different, because it provides fast collection of course feedback through a simple web tool.
Which means that:
- Clients can see the impact training has on their employees
- Course attendees can see how the course has had an impact on their understanding and confidence
- Our trainers can see how they have made a difference and respond quickly to feedback
- Agility in Mind has reduced printing and data entry costs, training product quality is enhanced, and clients receive greater value.
We mapped out 7 key functional areas:
- Create a course
- Collect pre-course data
- Collect post-course data
- Collect satisfaction data
- Create a course report
- Provide maintenance facilities
- Analyse course data over time
We generated user stories against each of the functional themes, ordered and defined our first product release – our minimal viable product (MVP) – and pushed other requirements to future releases. We dropped the “analysis” functionality all together from the MVP, as it had little impact on the immediate value of the product.
These are all good proven product management techniques we would be proud to see our clients use.
For the development phase we used an agile approach that would work for us instead of blindly applying a framework defined by someone else. Rather than moving our stories through a process, we showed what status each was at through colour coding: they all start at yellow for “to do” and changed status through four steps until blue “tested”. We had a clear picture of the status of completed product, remaining free to order and swap in and out requirements whenever we realised we needed to change something. LeanKit provided to be a great tool to support this.
The finished product, Menrva, is so much more useful than we originally thought. We have a great tablet-based app that collects feedback.
And a set of results delivered to our client and the attendees immediately at the end of the course.
We achieved it all in less than the cost of a couple of our training courses. It paid for itself in efficiency savings in just a few weeks. We are now planning enhancements to make this product a core part of an enriched training experience we want our clients to receive.
This is definitely a champagne moment, which we enjoyed immensely.
- Return on investment over 12 months: 400%
- Lead time from idea to live: 4 weeks
- First major client from initial discussion to live deployment: 24 hours (faster next time)
- Applied techniques found in training course: Agile Product Management