I typically spend so much of my time working on how to add the most to our products that I don’t spend much time thinking about the products I want. So I took a step back today and thought about the kinds of things I could do with our Sitrion ONE mobile platform to make work better for me and my team. As CTO, my role spans IT, Support, Product Management, Quality Assurance, and Development. To simplify the exercise a bit, I decided to just focus on stories around development.
Before I dive in with the ideas, it’s worth talking a little about development at Sitrion. We have developers in three major locations Oldenburg (Germany), Ottawa (Canada), and Denver (USA). We also have a few developers located outside of these major offices. I’m fortunate to have very experienced and talented developers who are skilled at working independently or in small teams. We have three major product lines used by hundreds of companies and millions of users around the globe. With new product development and changes to support customers and partners happening constantly, the most important jobs for me are to make sure that everyone is working on the right things at the right time and to make sure we’re making progress on all of our priorities.
What’s important but not urgent?
Like most organizations, we have tools for communicating priorities. We have tools that maintain prioritized lists of features and bugs. We have daily scrum meetings. We have tools like our own Sitrion Social platform, email, and IM. One of the tricky things is picking a channel to communicate things that are important but not urgent like shifts in general priorities or upcoming dates or constraints. Writing software takes a lot of mental focus, so I try not to interrupt developers who are in the middle of coding something. So I can see Sitrion ONE as a really nice channel for me to push out a small number of highly-focused messages that help my team anticipate shifts or upcoming needs. By pushing these out as cards to the Sitrion ONE native client on their mobile devices, I know that they will see these only when they choose to take the time to check their devices (I also have the option to send push notifications with cards, but this use case is specifically focused around NOT interrupting people.)
Targeted updates are good interruptions.
My work, on the other hand, is all about interruptions. Because I’m getting input all day from customers, partners, Sales, Marketing, Services, and the rest of the management team, I spend quite a bit of time taking in information and determining what (if anything) needs to be done about it. In the midst of all this, I don’t want to lose track of what’s happening in development.
With the number of developers and products, I don’t want to see every check-in. Similarly, with the number of customers we have, I don’t need to see every request or issue opened in real time. But because ONE can not only connect with my backend systems but also evaluate the data, I can have a layer of intelligence that says “only send me a card if the number of check-ins drops below X per day” or “only send me a card if there are check-ins on this product after this date.” I could also look at our issue tracking system and have it send me cards only if there is a certain volume of high-priority items open. These kinds of rule-based updates save time for everyone because they don’t require more data to be tracked by anyone, and they help ensure that managers get clear signals of things that need attention.
Of course, tons of other use cases exist, and I didn’t talk at all about the kinds of actions that these cards could support. (It’s good to know what’s going on, and it’s even better to be able to take action quickly and move on.) The main point is that every role in every type of business could benefit from having the right kind of information proactively delivered at the right time. Mobile devices are the perfect channel for this because they contain a mixture of urgency-controlled, user-controlled consumption, and powerful ways to interact with data. It’s very cool to have a product like Sitrion ONE that takes advantage of all these things to make work better.