(All that’s left afterward is to Scale via post-launch care and support. But let’s not skip ahead.)
Curious about what your role as the client is during development, how we work and why? Here’s what you can expect from STRV’s Engineering Phase.
Smart Decisions Require Flexibility
Thanks to Design, we start this phase knowing exactly what we’re building. We have an SOW (Statement of Work) in place that is made to be as actionable and deliverable as possible. So, technically, we could just do our thing fully detached from the client. But that wouldn’t be a true partnership.
We never want you to view the SOW as a locked box you can’t touch. We’re always open to brainstorming changes down the line, whether that means extending the SOW, exchanging a few things or whatever else.
However, our flexibility does not make us a yes-shop. It is rooted in an STRV process that exists to guarantee quality, and it relies on trust and an open dialogue when it comes to decisions. At the end of the day, both sides want to avoid issues like going over budget – and that’s only possible when we work together.
So when you come to us with a new idea or propose a change, we’re here to talk about its value, analyze the impact and offer solutions that will make you happy — while not harming the final product in any way, and while allowing us to deliver as planned.
How Does Engineering Actually Start?
The Engineering Phase starts with two kick-off sessions: an internal one ensuring a smooth transition from the Design Phase as everyone involved aligns, and the “official” one with you.
Before anything, the Product Manager sits with you and explains the entire process — by which we mean everything within this article, but in greater detail. Together, you:
- Go through the estimates to make sure you’re aligned;
- Discuss the phase’s exact outcome;
- Agree on how frequently you’d like to meet;
- Set up the proper communication channels;
- Establish and prepare the tools we’ll be using;
- Meet the team in full.
Once we’re all set up (may take up to a week), development has officially begun.
As for the tools and channels we use, we tend to go with Slack for easy daily/regular communication, Google Meet for calls and JIRA for project management. Of course, we are always open to discussing additional tools based on our clients’ preferences.
Speaking of communication and standups... What is the client’s role in all of this?
Your Level of Involvement Is up to You
Throughout the years, we’ve tested what approach works best for our projects. Our current process incorporates certain methods of the agile methodology, meaning there are many ways for you to be involved.
We allow our clients as much or as little visibility as they’d like. How far behind the scenes you see is in your hands.
You may prefer to see a demo accompanied by a quick rundown every other week, and that’s that. Alternatively, you may be hands-on and ask for complete transparency — by taking part in our daily stand-ups or getting daily summaries via Slack, having full access to JIRA and seeing all features, backlog tasks, estimates… the works.
The above are examples of extremes, and both are absolutely okay. However, most clients fall somewhere in between the two, which means they regularly take part in the following:
Sprint planning - This is where we define which tasks must be completed within the following two-week sprint.
Grooming sessions - As new ideas come up, the product manager and client review backlogged features/tasks and reprioritize as needed.
Demo days - A way for us to show the client our progress (for ex., via a few screens), usually every two weeks.
Along with Retrospective sessions — internal meetings we have at least once a month, helping us make adjustments to the process as we go — these sessions/days keep us synced, organized and on track.
Imagine the typical scenario like this: Our engineering team is behind a glass wall, and you can come and see what they’re up to, asking questions along the way. We make sure they are answered while leaving the process undisturbed, and we redirect or reprioritize when needed.
As mentioned, we are completely open to input but we always think of the good of the product.
What Makes Your STRV Team “Yours”
At this stage, you’ve already been working with a Product Manager during Discovery and Design. That person continues with you to Engineering.
The team of engineers designated to you are fully dedicated; they do not work on multiple projects at once. Your project is their daily bread and butter. That goes for Frontend, Backend, iOS, Android, Data Science and QA.
In terms of QA, many agencies tend to get their engineering done and then, in the last two weeks or so, they bring in QA to check for bugs. We have our QA analysts working in parallel with engineering throughout the majority of the phase. So, while other agencies commonly find hundreds of bugs near the end of the project and have to delay the release, we find and fix as we go.
And one more thing. It’s common practice for our designers to be in close contact with engineers during this phase, making sure everything is translated properly. This avoids any chance of miscommunication.
Your STRV team really does everything to be there for you and your project.
You’re Free to Chat With Anyone
Although the Product Manager is your main point of contact, you also have full access to every engineer. Want tech answers without a middleman? No problem. Anyone on the team is available right there on Slack or for a call.
The purpose of the Product Manager is simplicity and clarity. We want you to know who to turn to with any concerns, comments, questions. But this person isn’t there to keep you from the rest of the team. If anything, he/she is there to connect you to the right people.
Our engineers are passionate about what they do to a fault. You wanting to discuss their work directly with them will always be not only welcomed, but appreciated.
Tell Us How You Really Feel
At certain milestones, the Head of Product checks in with you directly. Just to make sure nothing is weighing on you.
There may be some worries in the back of your mind, certain little tweaks you’d be grateful for but aren’t adamant about, or maybe some praise you’d like to share… Whatever it is, we want to give you the space to let us know, in an environment where you don’t feel like you might be slowing things down or creating an unnecessary dialogue within a time-sensitive project.
This candor is really the main sentiment at every step. We just want both sides to be open with one another. As long as everything is said and explained, there is nothing keeping us from making this a pleasant, memorable experience — with an awesome result at the end.