In the month of February, we launched the Dynamic Canvas Studio, a major product update highlighting creative freedom brands will embrace as they automate 1:1 personalized ads for their customers.
This product release involved a major change to allow users to get a tangible view of how our platform generates thousands of variations in real-time.
“When I look at the product, two things stand out for me, one is the user experience, other is quality. But the ROI generated is going to be the biggest delight for all our customers,” Ramkumar Venkatesan, our VP Engineering & CTO, commented on the new capability. As for teamwork, Ram quoted Norman Schwarzkopf, “The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.”
Releasing a major product update with the team working remotely over Zoom was something we had never done before. This was a situation where multiple teams in the company, from Product Management, Engineering, and Technical Solutions to Client Services, Customer Success, Customer Onboarding, and Marketing, all came together to collaborate, making this release happen.
We asked some of our key leaders what went into making this product release a success during these unusual times. Here are responses from the following leaders in the order of their shared feedback:
- Diaz Nesamoney, Founder, President & CEO
- Shankar Venkataraman, SVP, Product & Engineering.
- Ramkumar Venkatesan, VP Engineering & CTO
- Prasann Garg, Principal Engineer
- Sethurajan Sakthivelu, VP of Frontend Engineering
Uttiyo: So, what are the key ingredients to making a product that customers love?
Diaz: Collaboration is key. It means that we don't think of ourselves as a department with names, but as a single team. While someone’s role might be specific to a job function, their ability to collaborate is what makes such a product release successful.
Every team’s contribution had a unique role to play, be it the UI design rolling out the feature with minimal disruption to the existing codebase, documenting the product features, spending countless hours clearing out bugs, planning customer communication, and so on. This update was an example of what happens when the best ideas, genuine effort, and talented people come together to make it happen.
Uttiyo: Given all the stages of a typical Software Development Life Cycle, what was different this time given we were working remotely?
Shankar: Instead of splitting this release into phases we followed a completely agile process. For the first time, we introduced the concept of squads, a team of 11-12 members from different engineering functions such as Testing, Development, UX, etc. We had multiple such squads that enabled us to achieve the level of quality we were shooting for. This product release has set a solid foundation for a product-led growth strategy that we will see more of in the future.
Ramkumar: All the teams worked together tirelessly over the last couple of months, so we had zero major issues post-release.
Prasann: We spent a lot of time designing the product features. This helped us to scale and accommodate major changes in later stages too. Moreover, we made everybody a part of the design discussion, from Product Management and UI to QA and Backend, and this enabled us to accommodate many changes that surfaced amid the development process.
Uttiyo: Just like any other company, 2020 was a year full of challenges. How did the entire team handle all of these and ship this major product update?
Diaz: What made this happen was our strong culture that existed before Covid. Culture is a word that is used pretty often by everyone, but we never got to see it in action the way we did during the pandemic.
This product release was a way for us to know that our culture is working. Instead of looking at the problems and complaining, we powered through and made things happen.
Sethurajan: Most of the engineering members in this project were either new to the team or the company. Many of them had to learn everything from scratch but the amount of energy and camaraderie they brought to the table was tremendous. Despite these challenges, it was the smoothest release because of our collaboration and teamwork.
While the Jivox team has accomplished a lot working remotely during this major product update, we look forward to working in the same office and celebrating wins together in the same room.
Jivox team having a light moment in the office before the pandemic and stay-at-home orders.