Creating Breakthroughs in Alyne through Greater Product & Development Team Collaboration

Agile collaboration across teams is the cornerstone of any successful business. In this article, the Alyne Product and Compliance Team elaborates on how collaboration takes place in our workplace as we drive new product features.

Collaboration - the cornerstone of the Product Roadmap

A product roadmap guides the team direction by highlighting and structuring all collaborative aspects of an upcoming product, from communication to processes involved. Collaboration across teams is the cornerstone of any successful business or product. This article elaborates on how collaboration takes place in our workplace, between the Product Team and one of Alyne's in-house engineering team, known as the Compliance Team. Whenever we speak about driving and enhancing our product with further functionalities, it all comes down to two major assets of the company, which is the Product Roadmap and the people who make it happen. 

How is the Product Roadmap decided?

Generally, there are several approaches as to how the roadmap for a product is being developed. More often than not, there are usually more creative ideas than time and resources to build everything into the product. Hence, it ultimately comes down to prioritisation. Here at Alyne, our Product Team works efficiently and effectively by making this process easier by adopting the "MOSCOW principle".

What is the "MOSCOW" principle?

MOSCOW is an acronym that describes the bracketing system of organisation to determine the upcoming features in our product roadmap:

M stands for MUST HAVE - These are the crucial project features. Without these features, the product should not be delivered.

S stands for SHOULD HAVE - This refers to features that are important for the overall vision of the product. However, not having these features in the product will not delay the delivery dates.

C stands for COULD HAVE - Having these features in the roadmap would enrich the product. However, they should be completed when time allows.

W stands for WOULD HAVE – These features would enrich the product. However, they are not game-breaking and thus, the product team may plan it for future release.

By following this framework to structure Alyne's product roadmap, along with customer commitments within our planning, the Alyne Team can then ensure that our product moves in the right direction, at a steady pace.

How we approach team collaboration here at Alyne

Within Alyne, the collaboration between our Product Team and the Compliance Engineering Team takes place intuitively and smoothly. Working in a super agile development environment, the information exchange on development progress, as much as upcoming questions, happen in a very fruitful manner and on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, there are a few outlining and characterising steps involved whenever we talk about new functionalities:

  1. The Product Team is responsible for creating the functional and visual design for each particular feature, following a unified product delivery plan and procedure.

  2. After the roadmap plans for a target quarter have been finalised, the Compliance Team is requested to submit their scheduled capabilities.

  3. Following that, the Compliance Team breaks down the feature(s) in our product roadmap, by adopting a self-governed approach.

Execution in the Compliance Team

Based on the requirement specifications delivered by the Product Team, the Compliance Engineering Team begins by analysing each requirement and mapping them to technical tasks. All requirements and UX design proposals are analysed in detail and discussions are held between Development and the Product Team to minimise the likelihood of misinterpretation.

Broadly, the following steps are executed:

  • Encoding feature specification from the products' board into technical stories.
  • Grouping tasks into an MVP story that lays down the foundation for subsequent iterations.
  • Breaking stories further into trackable tasks and assign to individual engineers.
  • Each iteration is assigned a deadline allowing time for review and QA tasks.

Of course, even the best-laid plans can hit snags. To be ahead of any technical delays or design concern that is encountered mid-development cycle, any development team member can immediately communicate directly with the Product Team to evaluate acceptable solutions towards our plan. This efficient synergy between both teams prevents any major delays within our development cycle.

Key Learnings

Alyne had a successful first quarter of 2021. Nonetheless, there are a few key learnings that we took out of it to improve our team collaboration going forward.

Keep “baggage” where it belongs

We entered the new quarter with some baggage from the previous quarter: final touches for a few enhancement projects. While those improvements took a little longer to complete than expected, the teams delivered some stunning new improvements in the areas of Documents and Assessments and were able to apply some foundational configuration changes that help our customers to get more out of the solution which you can read more about here. Although not uncommon, we have learned that unintended overflow into the next quarter is not the most desirable in sticking to the intended roadmap.

Navigating and preparing for the potential challenges ahead

As Alyne's technology develops, the complexity of Alyne developments can potentially grow unexpectedly. Being a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application that contains a very rich library of features, there were naturally some dependencies that require greater migration efforts than expected. Thus, moving forward, to ensure that product improvements remain manageable for the team, we will be dissecting and breaking new product features into smaller chunks as we build with shorter iteration cycles applied within our planning. 

Powered-up capacity planning 

Moving forward, we will also be further optimising and enhancing our planning by adopting a bottom-up time tracking approach. Measuring capacity from another perspective would empower us to plan and cascade down scheduled functionalities with much more precision. More importantly, it helps the Product and Development team to visualise agile developments which we can ship within a quarter as we measure our executed capacity and determine our actual capacity, in theory.

Core assets behind Alyne's new Product Features

Development Team 

The most crucial resources for product success are our incredible engineering folks. Going forward, we will be looking to allocate resources more flexibly internally, across our teams, to address any growing demands within our application. This structure aims to support an even more collaborative environment. 

Product Team 

From the Product Team, we would be looking to increase our accuracy when baking out feature specifications in the team, such that we achieve strategic speed gains as we reduce the number of coordination sessions.

What can Alyne Users look forward to in Q2?

Looking into the second quarter, Alyne Product and Development team have planned to release some groundbreaking improvements within the Alyne application. These improvements are mostly in the Governance area, which also covers Risk Management and further Compliance needs. 

Get in touch with our team to learn more about the new product features and the extended functionality of Alyne. 

Written in collaboration by Stefan Feiler (Head of Product, at Alyne) and Jasjeet Kaur (Software Engineering Manager and Compliance Team leader, at Alyne).

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Stefan Feiler

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