Have you noticed that the development team are incredibly fast in the original project? But
when you reach management level everything takes significantly more time. Despite the fact that there are urgent customer problems and new sales opportunities. How come speed slows down so dramatically?
Can we do something about it? How can we bring back some fire into the development? How do we increase customer satisfaction?
The low speed of development leads to a situation where no one is content. The developers receive a lot of critique and the customer turns disappointed. The sales staff become angry, the managers will be disappointed because of wasted opportunities and the product manager is prevented to take the product further.
Several companies I have worked with have introduced a filter for support management. The idea is to handle all requirements on an on-going basis, and in that way free up some time. Especially for the product management team. That is a step forward.
Others try agile development methods but are there alternatives? [Is product management slowing Agile down?]
Today I see some take one step further by dividing the development team into two separate teams and methodologies. ‘Rapid Response Teams’ are created. The teams will work alongside the development team. With the ‘fast teams’ it has been possible to solve the customer problems quickly without disrupting the product development.
What does a Rapid Response Team do? How do they do it? And who is included?
The group has three areas of responsibility:
- Solve prioritized bugs
- Implement smaller product improvements that bring high value but run the risk of being ignored in the release management
- Implement time-critical customer adjustments
The two values by which the team can be measured, are customer satisfaction and new business deals. In some cases billing models have been defined for point 2 and 3. This facilitates distinguishing between development and costumer solutions. [Listening to the Voice of the Customer]
When we chose what tasks the fast team should have, we should also consider what the other development team should NOT do.
The team should work very agile with daily prioritizations. Their work is by definition divided into short and fast delivery.
The group often consists of three roles: support administrator, developers and product manager. The support administrator makes sure all orders are received and documented. The developers, or developer, put 100% of their effort into this field. They should not have any other role. They have to be focused on fast delivery. The product manager prioritizes the incoming bugs and projects.
The difficult thing here is to manage development.
Rarely do the developers want to work exclusively with debugging and smaller adjustments. There are two ways to make it easier. These tasks are perfect for a newly employed developer. They will get a wide and good review of the product. However, this works best in combination with some kind of technical mentors hip. Another option is to work with a rotation scheme.
The challenge is also to make the co-operation between the two groups work smoothly.
By focusing on areas our mathematics changes. By dividing the development work into two groups, significantly higher efficiency can be achieved. What might cause delay to the delivery process is the disruptions that slow down the speed, and the long discussions of what should be prioritized in the development process. By creating a fast team you can gain higher customer satisfaction and a more profitable product.