A close look at our product development – Part 2: Tackling the 2 biggest challenges in our agile process

Welcome to the second part of our series, "A close look at our product development." This series offers an in-depth look at our agile ways of working at Refined, featuring insights from our CTO Janette Hagerlund and Head of Product Therese Alburg.

If you haven't read the first part yet, check it out here where we share seven key facts about our agile practices.

In this second installment, we dive into the challenges we've faced and how we've addressed them. Janette and Therese discuss the two biggest hurdles in our agile ways of working.

Looking ahead, they also share their insights on the future of product development at Refined.

Tackling the 2 biggest challenges in our agile process

Challenge #1: Fostering team dynamics and collaboration in a distributed setting

At Refined, seamless collaboration within distributed product teams, particularly when addressing complex challenges, is an ongoing endeavor. 

Janette shares, "We're putting in significant effort but acknowledge that we haven't perfected it yet. It’s not easy, and we’re figuring it out and coming up with new ideas every day."

She dismisses the notion of a silo-free environment as unrealistic. To combat this, we have experimented with assigning individual owners or drivers to initiatives, finding that having a singular person responsible for pushing initiatives forward aids in breaking down barriers. We also have cross-team working groups for specific initiatives to help with alignment.

Furthermore, we organize company weeks to bring everyone together, reinforcing the belief that face-to-face interactions lay the groundwork for more effective remote collaboration. 

Challenge #2: Knowledge sharing in a growing company

One significant operational challenge our product teams have encountered, particularly as the company has grown, is knowledge sharing. 

Therese reflects on the transition from a single, large product team to multiple smaller teams, noting, "it's become challenging to share knowledge across teams, and as we continue to grow, it's becoming increasingly difficult."

Our expansion has made it challenging to ensure all team members are aware of each other's work, especially when tasks impact multiple components. To address this, we introduced dedicated Slack channels for open communication, where queries about specific areas can be raised, ensuring there's always someone available to provide insights. 

This fosters a culture where asking questions is encouraged, showcasing the idea that there are no stupid questions. Additionally, general knowledge sessions, particularly technical ones, and a tech council comprising representatives from different teams, facilitate discussions on cross-team initiatives. 

Looking ahead: The future of product development at Refined

As we look into the future of product development at Refined, it's clear that agility and innovation will continue to be the bedrock of our approach. 

Janette provides insight into this future vision, emphasizing the move towards even more iterative models that enable the team to ship updates and new features with greater frequency. 

"The interesting thing for us is to go even further into an iterative model, where we can release smaller updates even more frequently. There's always room for improvement in this area,” she reflects.

The potential of AI-powered development also stands as a promising horizon for us. Janette sees AI not as a replacement for human creativity and problem-solving but as a powerful tool that enhances these capabilities. From improving testing coverage to providing contextual assistance, AI is poised to make the development process faster, better and more efficient. 

Through iterative improvement, leveraging AI, and fostering a deeper connection between teams and customers, we aim to continue delivering exceptional value for our customers. Our ways of working might evolve, but our core principles of agility, collaboration, balanced worklife and customer-centricity are there to stay.

Are you interested in joining a company that thrives on overcoming challenges and values continuous improvement? Explore career opportunities at Refined by visiting our career page!

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