Product Management: From Design to Implementation (Case Study)

Companies working within the fast moving tech sector need consistent workflows.

With a focus on ideation and regular push requests, bug fixes, UI improvements and growth experiments, processed by design and development teams, it can be easy for tasks to slip through the gaps.

We chatted with Cory Scott, CEO and Founder of LiveBy (pictured), a real estate technology company, based out of Lincoln, Nebraska, to hear a little about how the LiveBy team uses MeisterTask, MindMeister and G Suite to keep on top of their product development, during this exciting but busy time for their company.

Thanks for joining us Cory, could you start by telling us a little about the work you and the team at LiveBy do?

So we founded LiveBy back in April 2015 and the real mission is to take the stress out of moving to a new city. We do this by providing an online tool that matches house hunters to their ideal neighbourhood in any given U.S. city.

We provide users with information on each of the local areas in the city they’re considering moving to, so details like which local amenities are within the area, how long it would take them to get to work and the kinds of houses on offer. Based on the users’ personal preferences, within a few seconds LiveBy provides them with a bespoke suitability rating for each area of that city.

It sounds like a really useful tool – how do you manage the development of a product like this?

Well we have a clearcut process from design to implementation. How we manage this development process comes down to both our team and the tools we use to collaborate – tools like MeisterTask, Slack, G Suite and MindMeister.

We try to be flexible with where the team can work, so they can either work all together in our shared office space or remotely, so from home or in a coffee shop, if that suits them.

We all stay connected via Slack and using the comment features within MeisterTask, so the fact that these tools are cloud-based means team members can work wherever suits them best. As a Google Business Company, we also use G Suite which the team can access remotely, so we use Google Calendars for combined team calendars and Gmail for our support accounts. We also use Google Drive, for our collaborative documents.

Providing a product to the whole of the United States, means we’ve got to be flexible with the tool, and strive to develop something which will be accessible to as many users as possible.

Of course, providing a product to the whole of the United States, as we are at present, and hoping to expand to Europe soon, means we’ve got to be flexible with the tool, and strive to develop something which will be accessible to as many users as possible.

To collate all of our product information, we’ve created one incredibly intricate mind map on MindMeister. The map lists every single product feature, so for example ‘neighbourhood profiles’, then every sub-feature within each of those features.

It’s a collaborative mind map shared with every team member, so they’re able to login and add their idea for a new feature or sub-feature straight into the map, labelling it with a light bulb emoticon so the rest of the team can spot the new idea and provide feedback.

mindmeister-screenshot

 

The product mind map acts as both a knowledge map, including all existing company information on the product, and a home for new ideas. These ideas can then be discussed within the mind map and followed up in meetings, when deciding which ideas to take forward for product improvements or experiments.

Great, what would the life cycle of one of these experiments look like?

Well we begin the process with a ‘brainwriting’ session. In an effort to try and make our meetings more efficient, we ask employees to brainstorm their ideas for improvements or experiments ahead of the meeting.They do this using MindMeister, attaching design mock-ups to their mind maps. We then meet as a team to thrash out all of our ideas together, creating one collaborative mind map, to get everyone’s ideas down in one place and decide which ideas to take forward.

Once we’ve decided on an experiment or improvement we take it through the design to development to implementation process. MeisterTask is the cornerstone of this design and development process for our products, as our backlog of tasks go through the many stages within our project boards, until the changes are successfully implemented.

We ask employees to brainstorm their ideas for improvements or experiments ahead of the meeting, using MindMeister, attaching design mock-ups to their mind maps. We then meet as a team to thrash out all of our ideas together, creating one collaborative mind map.

So for example, we recently discovered that users were finding it difficult to fully utilise the search feature, so we designed a UI experiment to alter it. This experiment, listed as a task card, was put through our development process on MeisterTask, beginning at the design project board, then moving on to development once designed, then through to quality assurance when implemented on the test site, and finally made live.

meistertask-experiment-task

 

Whenever the task was moved from one phase to the next, the relevant team members would be informed via the Slack integration, so when the test was moved to quality assurance for example, a meeting was organised with the relevant stakeholders to judge whether the change should be implemented. Then, when the change had been made live, the whole team was notified, so we could go and check that everything looks as expected on our site.

And was the UI experiment a success?

It was – before the UI changes were implemented, website visitors were converting well from content on the site but weren’t using the search function effectively, so were dropping off at that point.

we redesigned the entire search interface and created a new landing page to assist users in how they’re navigating the site. The result was a new and improved search function and an increased user conversion rate

As a result of the UI experiment, we redesigned the entire search interface and created a new landing page to assist users in how they’re navigating the site. The result was a new and improved search function and an increased user conversion rate, so yes, I’d definitely say it was a success.

Would you say the tools – G Suite, MindMeister and MeisterTask – are central to this improvement process?

Yes absolutely. As mentioned, MindMeister is key to our ideation process and product planning meetings.

In terms of product development, the development team were originally using another project management tool but they found it to have quite a low fidelity and functionality, and they wanted to find a tool which could provide the task card feature and more integrations – this is when they found MeisterTask. At that point the design team were using Asana, but in order to create an effective workflow from design through to implementation, the design team decided to jump ship to MeisterTask too.

The change has been fantastic for us, as there’s now just one place for all of our product development tasks and the Slack integration keeps everyone informed

The change has been fantastic for us, as there’s now just one place for all of our product development tasks and with the Slack integration keeping everyone informed, and the ability to attach relevant Google Docs to their respective tasks, all team members know exactly where everyone else is at.

If you could summarise the result, what would you say it’s been for LiveBy?

Ultimately, having tools which we know will store all of our information and tasks in one place means that there’s so much less to keep in everyone’s head, leaving the team rest assured that they’ll be notified when the next stage is needed.

Having all of the tools – MindMeister, MeisterTask, Slack and G Suite – integrated, means that our tasks won’t fall through the gaps but will be seen through, from design to implementation.


So there’s some insight from Cory Scott, CEO and Founder of LiveBy, on how they’re using MeisterTask, MindMeister and G Suite at LiveBy. 

As always, please do share your questions and comments below!