This Workshop Makes Software Development Easy

in Business by Damian on December 3rd, 2016

Challenges in building an online product

Building an online product is not easy. As a client dealing with the tech team, you have many questions:

  • Are they reliable when estimating the budget and timeline?
  • Do they have enough experience to build my product?
  • Can they advise when I am not sure about what to build?
  • Have they built something similar before with success?
  • How can I decrease the risk of failure?

...and much more. Usually, when we talk to the potential clients, they share their worries. We decided to help them and create a proper onboarding workshop to explain things and answer all questions during a couple of days.

Is such Workshop a good idea?

We know that as a client, you want to feel comfortable. You need a clear and transparent development process. You want to control the time, the budget and most importantly: you want to trust the team you work with.

We always care about these things. That's why we invite the Product Owner (you) to spend a couple of days with the Team and understand how they work and what's the methodology. This can be done remotely, but we strongly recommend physical attendance. It’s an investment, not a cost.

This workshop is a part of the backlog creation - together with the team you create a wishlist of the functionalities. Effective Product Management using Scrum far exceeds only the ability to create User stories. It requires an excellent awareness of the value of the produced software and effective management of this value.

Having our experience with dozens of projects and Product Owners in mind, we often asked ourselves why didn’t we start to work this closely with the Product Owners from the beginning? Why weren’t we involved in User Stories preparation and didn’t find the time to prepare a great Product Backlog, so that the project management process could be transparent and effective early on?

After that experience, we are sure that investing in Product Backlog will save much more time at the project implementation stage. Apart from being convinced that we are doing things right, we will be sure that we are doing the right things!

Implementation and steps

Implementation of the project from the perspective of the Product Owner, requires close collaboration with the Development Team, where in addition to technical knowledge, leadership skills and very efficient communication are necessary. The Team will be working on a project with the conviction that they are working on something valuable, they we will be aware of the scope of their impact and in result, willing to make it even better with every line of code they write.

We usually propose to form a Team consisting of:

  • Development Team that will take part in the project implementation (Developers, UX Designers, Testers, Project manager)
  • Product Owner, the client (you or some of your co-founders)

and work together during Product Backlog Workshop.

Goals of the Workshop

We have the following goals:

  • Creating a Project Backlog together with the Product Owner.
  • Defining how to monitor and evaluate the progress of our work.
  • Allowing the Team and the Product Owner to get to know each other and build a partnership, so that work in the coming weeks will be a pleasure.
  • Teaching clients how the Scrum framework works and how they can benefit from it (i.e. how it can increase the team’s productivity with each step of the process)
  • With experience from the implementation of many Agile projects, we will define project Risks and ways to deal with Risks.
  • Teaching the Product Owner how to create and manage the Product Backlog with User Stories. The Product Backlog is the fuel that drives the Development Team and its refinement is one of the basic responsibilities of the Product Owner. The division of roles and efficient cooperation with the Team is in our experience one of the most important success factors.

What exactly do we do during the Workshop?

  • We determine the product Goal, the objective that should be met by software implementation. A correct understanding of the Goal by the development team is crucial in Agile software development.
  • We define the Metrics to measure to determine if the Goal has been met.
  • We describe Customers and Users as Personas. We will explain who we believe is likely to use or buy the product and why. By putting the User first at the center of the development effort, we will ensure that we develop a product that is beneficial and desirable.
  • We use Agile tools to meet the Persona goals. Together with the Product Owner we create User Stories, User Journeys, Mock-ups and Workflow Diagrams.
  • We prepare our Project Backlog, giving priority to User Stories. In order to do so, we will use Agile tools like Story Mapping or Impact Mapping.
  • We divide the Project Backlog into Releases. Each Release will have a goal to reach by the Development Team.
  • We explain in detail the sufficiently well-known User Stories, adding User Acceptance Criteria and visual User Journeys as Mock-ups.
  • We estimate User Stories in Story Points in order to create the Project Schedule.
  • After completion of all the above, we have a very well-prepared Product Backlog which will allow the Development Team to start working in order to implement the project Goal and create a functioning Software Product.

Is this necessary?

Yes, it is!

Since we run this workshop, we have seen a number of benefits:

  • everything is clear for the first release and the developers know what to build
  • we save a lot of time
  • the client feels comfortable seeing that the Team understands his vision and can advise appropriately
  • the Product Owner and the developers feel ownership of the project and they are motivated to work on it

This is also a great time for COMMUNICATION. In software development, without proper communication from the beginning, your risk of failure becomes really high (misunderstandings, over-interpretations, missed expectations etc.).

"Passion and Communication over Processes and Tools"

We also push the Product Owner to focus on the most important functionalities, to get a reasonable MVP within 2-3 months (it all depends on the scope of course). We launch the product and then collect feedback from its users.

The Homework for each Product Owner

I know that this is a huge workshop, but before you jump into it, you can prepare by creating a Business Model Canvas and Product Canvas. Below you can download both or fill in some online versions.

Business model Canvas - you will find the explanation how to fill it in under the link. Download the PDF and see if you understand your business and you can clearly present it on one A4 page.

Product Canvas - you will find the explanation how to fill it in under the link. Simply download it as well and try to describe your product with this framework.

With such preparation, you will have a clear vision of your business and the product you want to launch. This is the best starting point for you to get in touch with developers.

I hope it sounds reasonable to you. I know it seems like a huge thing to do, but don’t worry. We are here to help. So if you will get lost with your Business or Product Canvas, let me know.

May the Agile Force be with you!


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