How We Plan Our Work

Small Cycles and Frequent Delivery

We prefer small, iterative cycles. We believe that the risk of change is often mitigated by making small changes. Further we realize that our ideas are often not perfect so we prefer to take small steps towards them.

Feature Opportunities are Plentiful

Feature opportunities are conceived from all areas of the business, inside and out. Because our team regularly uses the product and because they regularly interact with our customers we constantly find opportunities to do better for our customers.

• Our Customer Solutions team is at the front line of supporting our customers and are often the first team to identify and triage bugs.

• Our Customer Success team negotiates with our largest customers everyday about new feature development that serves large user bases.

• Our Sales team is regularly evaluating the needs our prospects to determine if our products are the right fit for the opportunity. Consequently, they know where our gaps are.

• Our Marketing team evaluates the competitive marketplace to understand what our competition has that we don't.

• Our product team is constantly meeting with our customers with the sole purpose of understanding how our product can serve them better.

The Product Team is Central

Even though there are several teams who are invested in the product it's important that we have a central team that can make the decisions about what change is the most impactful for our customers and the success of the business. The product surveys the opportunities across our customers and internal teams. They then prioritize the most important problems to solve. Finally, they synthesize solutions to those opportunities. This is where work planning begins.

The Product Vision

In order to plan work we first need to understand what we're planning for. This is the first step in planning. The product team delivers the details of their vision to various internal and external stakeholders. Once they determine that it's a reliable solution they deliver it to engineering.

Estimation

In order to understand the cost of product change we estimate. This is the second step in planning. Each feature defined by product is estimated in detail. This estimate helps the business understand if the feature is worth building. It also helps the project management team understand how they can schedule work. Estimation is done in real time: hours, days, and weeks.

Prioritization

After surveying the needs of our customers and stakeholders and after proposed work is estimated, product prioritizes the work. Product considers the cost of change relative to the impact it has and determines an appropriate priority relative to other opportunities.

What about product changes that fall outside of core product?

There are many changes to the product that are not a core feature but are otherwise important or imperative to the business. For example, the AppSec team may require that we serve all content over TLS (They do. They definitely do.). In this case the AppSec department head would work with product to determine how to prioritize the work.

Scheduling

In order to work efficiently we need to schedule our work efficiently by limiting our downtown and preventing conflicts. This is where project management comes into play. Project management will create a project plan that delivers the features that have been prioritized using the engineering resources as efficiently as possible to. They are responsible for the schedule. They track it daily, measuring drift and scope change to determine if we are ahead or behind schedule.