We Are Not the Same Company We Were Two Years Ago

We have been in business for a little over 10 years, and over that time the business has certainly evolved, but the last 18 months have produced the most significant growth and demanded the most change.

There have been many new initiatives at ten24 over the last two years, including:

  • A migration of our entire infrastructure to AWS (Amazon Web Services) and automation of our code deployment process.
  • We added a full Quality Assurance (QA) team in early 2017 and developed a more defined QA/UAT process.
  • Our first marketing employee, Danielle Shabo, was hired in 2017 and has been ramping up our content marketing efforts.
  • The Slatwall platform continues to evolve with new features.
  • Our HR Manager, Linnette Welle, has been implementing an internal Learning platform that provides continuing education to employees.

But as we have added new clients and more employees one of the key challenges we needed to address was improving our processes, most importantly our Engineering Process.  Engineering is the first phase of every project and sets up every subsequent phase (design, development, QA/UAT, training, launch and support) for success. For many years we had a minimal Engineering process, gathering and documenting just enough information to begin the project.  

The lack of detailed documentation caused many challenges:

  • Developers, who are not typically involved in Engineering, had gaps in their knowledge of tasks assigned to them.
  • Internal QA did not have a clear test plan and the documentation for a specific functional test was not always complete.
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) had the same issue as our internal QA, so it was difficult for the client to report on issues.
  • Stakeholders outside of the project team had issues following progress and determining what was left to reach a specific Milestone.

The first major change was to add a completely new job function to our company; Client Solutions Manager (CSM). It is the CSM’s responsibility to be the subject matter expert for the client’s business. They are responsible for documenting functional requirements, meeting project milestones and being the liaison between the ten24 team and the client.

Our next step was to implement an engineering process that allows our team (including the client) to build a roadmap for the project that flows from engineering to development to QA/UAT and finally to support. With the guidance of our Development Manager, Kevin Jason, and our Director of Client Solutions, Mindi Ennis, we have completely overhauled this workflow and deliverable.

We have detailed the engineering process in a series of blog posts covering the overall process, the functional specifications document, wireframes, and the project plan but here is a quick breakdown of these key deliverables:

RACI Document

Describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process. It is especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional/departmental projects and processes.

Functional Spec Document (FSD)

Includes a short description of the project, key objectives, and user stories broken into epics (when applicable) in the following format: "as a _______, I can _________, so that __________". For each user story, list separate acceptance criteria, which will be used by QA when testing development work.

Wireframes

Created to show what a user interface will look like and how it will work on the front-end or admin section of a website. The wireframe provides a visual flow to the elements and functionality described in the Functional Spec Document.

Project Plan

Provides client transparency and for QA and UAT testing to exist throughout the development phase. The Project Plan involves building two week sprints and managing major project milestones, typically in a project management software like the one we use called Teamwork.

We have just begun launching projects that have followed this process end-to-end and the results have been exciting. Developers have better documentation and direction, the client has better visibility, testing is more accurate and complete and the projects have more effectively hit milestones. This doesn’t mean the process is perfect, and we will continue to iterate and improve, but it has been a great team effort to keep us going in the right direction. We’re all excited to see what the next 18 months will bring!

Engineering, Slatwall, ten24, Web Development

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