Agile Product Development and What Works For Us

Shailesh Koppikar

Product Development, Scrum, and what works for us - Product development at TAJ is in a very exciting phase with our current product, the Human Resource Onboarding system, well underway. In a small business setting, the team wears many hats, the responsibilities are fluid and the luxury of a reduced timeline for approvals is great. However, it also means fewer resources such as specialized UX teams or UI developers or large budgets for 3rd party APIs for the engineers. This creates a perfect environment for high levels of creativity from every team member such as the Product Manager chipping in with UX ideas and engineers developing their own custom APIs, which in turn creates a spawning ground for new products.

With some wins in the past few years with a very stable enterprise, Business workflow software, a managed service portal, collaborative messaging tools, the journey of product development at TAJ is getting very exciting. Products with the potential of monetizing as a SAAS solution is right around the corner. We learned through our previous experiences, that to make Agile and rapid development work for us, we had certain elements that were a “must-have”.

The first was having high availability of the entire team, access to the business users, and a highly competent development team. With this in place, we could create an environment where there is high engagement, a sense of ownership, and collaborative management of egos. These soft aspects of product ownership are not often talked about in product manager forums. A highly competent team means everyone will have their ideas and approaches heard and would want their approach implemented all the time. We set expectations upfront that this would occur and that we would have a library of ideas & approaches and implement the appropriate approach for each requirement while banking other approaches for another time.

We experimented with certain SCRUM events such as the Daily Scrum and the sprint planning session. When a new developer joined the team, he started doing demos of his work every day versus just talking about it. We decided as a team that this was a great idea. Instead of waiting for a sprint review which was 2 weeks out, we could instantly know subtle aspects such as placement of a button, colors, or how events would occur on a page. The feedback, adaptation, and iterations could happen on a daily basis. This was a eureka moment for us. Another experiment that took place was the Daily Scrum going for an hour versus the 15 min guideline of SCRUM. The extended Scrum meeting allowed the Product Manager to explain and clarify the user story, understand the various approaches, review demos, and give feedback.

Our latest product is called “Connect” a Candidate Relationship Management system. Connect will be home to candidates whom we have worked with in the past and will allow the fulfillment team to present new opportunities automatically without any recruiter intervention. Connect will also allow candidates to maintain their availability via SMS. Recruiters will be able to record events and know if any of their colleagues have been working with them in the past and cater to opportunities based on the candidates' interests and qualifications.

The Human Resources Onboarding system is in production and the development team is close to a break-thru in image-based signatures which will give TAJ the capability similar to leading document signature applications.

Content in post is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of TAJ Technologies, Inc.

Content contributed by Shailesh Koppikar, Program Manager/Technology Services, TAJ Technologies, Inc. and edited by Sonia Sukumar

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