This post was originally published on Brandwatch's main blog on 29th August 2014.
First of all, let me introduce you to Brandwatch’s Q&D team: that’s Shaun, Sebastian, Thomas, Kentaro, Łukasz, Claudio, Fernando, Mélanie, Stefan, Judith and myself.
Above: Our team giving ‘Padel’ a go earlier this summer – an easy to pick up combination of squash and tennis
Most of us are based in the Stuttgart office (main office language: English with a bit of swabian mixed in), while three of our team members sit in our other offices in Berlin and Brighton.
What’s nice regarding the remote collaboration is that we get to visit each other too, not only virtually via our video calls and via telepresence robots, but physically via regular visits to sunny Brighton too.
Taken on my last trip to Brandwatch UK (on one of these recent cold summer days)
Just last week we had Fernando (our scrum master) and Mélanie (our product owner) down here in Stuttgart. By the way, our office is far from full, so if you know a good Java or JS dev make sure to get in touch!
What are we up to?
As with all the engineering teams, we’re a cross-functional bunch: JS devs, Java, QA, UX, Scrum Master and Product Owner. Rather than a use case team (see Graham’s post about the Measurement Team and James’ post about the Reactor Team for more on use-case teams), we’re a Platform Team.
This means we focus on a key aspect of Brandwatch… you guessed it: Queries and Dashboards!
Our mission is to make working with Queries (‘search strings on steroids’, the core of every SMM tool) as comfortable and powerful as possible, providing and improving Dashboards – ‘interactive, customisable reports’ – that surface the data that our customers need while giving you maximum control.
What’s more is that we, in collaboration with other teams, look after the overall navigation, the user flow and structure of the app. Last year we worked on a completely revised UI for Brandwatch for example.
We also definitely love our foosball table as you can see on the top (but if we need a bit more of a workout we fold out the ping-pong table).
How do we go about it?
Like most of the other teams we’re all about Agile, self-organisation and Scrum to work together.
Apart from daily standups, this includes demoing what we’ve completed at the end of each bi-weekly sprint to our stakeholders from other departments and whoever else wants to join. It also includes sprint retrospectives (team only!) where we look at what worked well and what didn’t – so we can constantly improve how we work together.
We try to work very iteratively, releasing early and often so that we can expose our MVPs (check out Graham’s recent Minimum Viable Products blog post to learn more) to users as early as possible.
Part of this is running regular usability tests not only on our prototypes in the design stage but also throughout development on dev branches that we can easily expose, so we can test UX improvements very quickly with real data.
This is something we’re doing extensively for the improved Query Builder error notifications that we’re working on right now. Claudio will talk about this in more detail soon here in a UX-post, so stay tuned.
Technology-wise we’re pretty much aligned with the other teams that work on Brandwatch Analytics.
We also host the Stuttgart JS meetup every first Monday of the month in our office. If you’re in the area, come by and visit!
We’re also big fans of Brandwatch’s Funky Fridays, where we work on what we want, explore new technologies etc every second Friday. Yes, sometimes we also work with Lego…
During a recent affinity estimation and release planning workshop by Fernando
Right now we’re working on massively improving the Brandwatch Query creation experience. So expect to hear more from us on that!
We’ll talk about how we approach UX, RITE user testing, how we are tackling issues such as showing the error messages at the right time and improving our Query validation backend or building on top of the ACE editor among other things.
Did I mention this already?!