Building successful products and services

Written by the Head of Strategy and Experience Design

27 May 2019

At EOH Digital we strive to ensure the three circles of IDEO’s design thinking are always equally accounted for within projects. The integration of this principle into agile, cross-functional teams allows us to deliver based on our unique method of iterating through the process of discovery, definition, design, and build.

Building successful products and services through cross-functional, agile teams

Cross-functional squads are groups of individuals made up of various skills depending on the phase of a project. These squads are given a specific need or problem to solve and are set up by product, channel or service offering. Due to the fact that squads are self-organised and completely autonomous, they are naturally motivated to work together and to deliver the best possible solution based on the knowledge at hand. This approach, in our opinion, completely changes the trajectory of success for projects.

There are a few key characteristics of squad roles that ultimately allow for teams who are healthy, happy, and deliver results. This is not an exhaustive list, but a good starting point:

  • Scrum masters or agile coaches who mold and shape the team, making sure they stick to the agile principles and provide support to all individuals within the squad.
  • Product owners who understand and value the three circles of customer, business and tech and who are able to make decisions by weighing up these three at every stage. Product owners should also be available to talk to the team, brainstorm solutions and interact. Product owners time management skills are essential.

In addition, individuals within the squad should all sit near one another. Brainstorming and solving a problem as it arises, without having to book meetings and adjourning to another meeting rooms is an impactful way of working. Interacting with people who have different backgrounds, skills, thinking and biases is a powerful advantage and allows the team to truly design a product where the three circles of design thinking are given an equal voice.

Buy-in and support from the business around the new ways of work is also important. Bi-weekly showcases to the business and active business involvement in the decision-making process ensures that their needs are also accounted for.

The method of delivery EOH Digital uses within squads combines design thinking and scaled agile methods. We iterate through discovery, definition, design, build and launch phases; applying learnings gleaned from testing with actual customers and throughout the business. Even though this is becoming a more and more adopted way of delivery, EOH Digital applies its own secret sauce to this method.

During our discovery phase, we believe in getting out of the building and speaking to actual humans. This phase is imperative as it gives the squad a 360˚ understanding of the customer, the business and technical landscapes. We also believe that everyone should be included in this exercise – developers, designers, testers; the more the merrier. This approach is quite unique; it allows the entire team to garner an understanding of what the customers truly want and from there, an opportunity to provide an own perspective on the research found.

We then move into the definition phase, where we collate and refine all the information found. We define the product vision, customer journeys, the minimal viable product (MVP), product backlog and settle into our cross-functional squads.

Building successful products and services through cross-functional, agile teams

The design and build phase moves into more of the delivery aspect of the project. Here we look at designing interfaces, user testing, story grooming, testing and coding, and ultimately delivering value in small increments every two weeks that can be ‘launched’ to market, depending on what is being built.

The launch phase involves taking the product to market, conducting testing and then cycling through the discover, define, design, and build process again to build better and better products.

The above process falls into the design thinking and agile delivery framework EOH Digital prides itself on being able to deliver.