Projects can be unnecessarily stressful when they don’t “flow.” Most of us can recall a rocky collaboration where communication was messy and roles weren’t clear. Even if the final product was great, the frustration from an unorganized execution can overshadow the rewards of completing the actual assignment.
Fortunately, those woes aren’t a concern at Beyond Finance. Using a thoughtful and focused sprint system, Beyond Finance’s tech teams have been able to provide more clarity throughout the development process, which has led to less time in meetings, smoother work days and well-developed final products.
In recent years, Beyond Finance has shifted from outsourcing product development and software engineering to focusing on building a robust in-house technology division. This formalized sprint system has evolved over the past two years in correlation with the growth of Beyond Finance’s product, engineering, and QA teams.
The Beyond Finance Process
“We don’t prescribe to any particular type of project management philosophy, but do find that our process resembles a mix of Scrum and Kanban approaches” explained Sergio Rabiela, VP of technology at Beyond Finance. “We plan the work we’re looking to accomplish around weekly sprints, but also deploy any completed features as soon as they’re done. We try not to stress too much about any work that remains unfinished at the end of the sprint. Instead, we try to talk through how we can refine our planning so that we can deliver projects at a consistent clip.”
Shaila Kuchibhotla, Beyond Finance’s VP of product management, also noted how Beyond Finance’s approach helps streamline each sprint and simplify weekly planning meetings.
“It allows the product team to add items to the board as they become necessary rather than having to wait for a specific checkpoint or meeting,” Kuchibhotla explained. “Having clearly defined ownership on the engineering side ensures that the engineering team can review items asynchronously as they are added without needing a dedicated meeting.”
Beyond Finance typically launches sprints on Mondays. However, team members can begin working on a new item ahead of time if they have the bandwidth to begin development sooner. Here’s a look at how Beyond Finance’s technical teams run sprints:
- The product management team identifies needs and adds them as stories to their respective collaboration boards throughout the week. Beyond Finance uses Trello.
- Product managers notify engineers, who are grouped in team pods that serve various parts of the organization, as soon as each story is ready for review. Engineers then review stories, clarify outcomes and scope, then move each story from “Backlog” to “Ready for Dev.”
- Product managers oversee the progress of each sprint. They ensure that the stories are being moved proactively and addressed based on priority, and they respond to software engineering and QA teams in a timely manner.
- Product management, software engineering and QA teams attend a weekly sprint planning meeting. Topics discussed during these 30-45 minute meetings include which stories are ready to be pulled for the next sprint, as well as who from the engineering and QA teams will be assigned to each story.
- Once all changes are merged into production, the product team is responsible for deployment and verifying that everything is functioning as expected within a week of the item’s release.
- Product management, software engineering and QA teams conduct regular retrospectives at the end of each sprint to discuss what went well and what can be improved, as well as to highlight members and actions that aided in the sprint’s success. The story backlog is reviewed regularly to remove items that no longer apply to updated business goals.
Beyond Finance’s product managers place each Trello story under one of the following categories: