eBay: A lean & agile content case study by Michael B. Jones

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This case study describes how a small team of content managers and strategists is experimenting with agile techniques and lean principles to run the business and support strategic programs at eBay. According to Michael B Jones who presented the slides at the Lean IT Summit 2013: "inspired by the developers we partner with, we've picked methods and techniques from agile, scrum and lean. We have tried and adjusted our set up over a period of four months and are about to upgrade our set-up technically and try scaling the approach to a geographically dispersed team". Discover more Lean IT case studies on www.lean-it-summit.com

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eBay: A lean & agile content case study by Michael B. Jones

  1. 1. Copyright © Institut Lean France 2013 3 & 4 October, 2013 Paris, France European Lean IT Summit 2013 Lean & Agile digital content Michael B Jones - eBay
  2. 2. LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT MICHAEL JONES Senior Manager, Digital Content October 3, 2013
  3. 3. A COUPLE OF WORDS ON CONTENT AT EBAY This case study describes how a small team of content managers and strategists is experimenting with agile techniques and lean principles to run the business and support strategic programs at eBay. Inspired by the developers we partner with, we've picked methods and techniques from agile, scrum and lean. We have tried and adjusted our set up over a period of four months and are about to upgrade our set-up technically and try scaling the approach to a geographically dispersed team.
  4. 4. WHAT IS CONTENT AT EBAY? WHAT DOES IT DO? GLOBAL AND LOCAL: COMBINES SCALABILITY OF GLOBAL PLATFORM WITH LOCAL FEEL A MEANS OF MULTIPLE CUSTOMER USES: SUPPORTS USERS IN ACHIEVING THEIR TASKS CONNECTING WITH OUR CUSTOMERS TO INFORM, RE-ASSURE, MULTIPLE FORMATS & TYPES: TEXT, VIDEO, IMAGES, AUDIO UI, HELP, MARKETING, CS, EMAIL ENGAGE AND INSPIRE. ------------------------------------- COMMUNICATES TRUST MAKES EBAY FEEL LOCAL A WAY OF DIFFERENTIATING US MULTIPLE CONTRIBUTIONS: A HYGIENE FACTOR, A BUSINESS ASSET, A DIFFERENTIATOR FROM OUR COMPETITORS COLLECTIVELY: OUR LARGEST CUSTOMER TOUCHPOINT LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 4
  5. 5. VISION: TO ENABLE COMMERCE BY CREATING CONTENT CUSTOMERS LOVE MISSION: To produce personalised, engaging content. In multiple formats and multiple languages. That works hard on all devices and platforms. That differentiates us … … at scale, globally. LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 5
  6. 6. THE TEAM • We are a small local team within a large global organisation. • We are a support function evolving into a strategic one. Keeping the lights on by fixing bugs, maintaining existing assets. Adding value to customers by creating new assets. • Content work is knowledge work – decision making and highly skilled execution (parallels to coding) LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 6
  7. 7. WHY & HOW WE TRIED AGILE There are many other teams at eBay who are more advanced in using agile/scrum and lean startup principles, but for product management & development. We are trying to learn from them and find the right mix for our kind of knowledge work.
  8. 8. REASONS FOR EXPERIMENTING • Our previous set up (Outlook & Sharepoint) at breaking point – causing errors and confusion. • Team felt overwhelmed, didn't know what each other is working on. • No overview of requests and projects - making planning, prioritisation, expectation setting, progress tracking hard. • Inspired by hearing about Oobeya, A3 and lean leadership principles (particularly focus on the vital few; visual & frequent stand up reviews; standardisation, stability & Gemba management) • Lean Startup book has popularised lean principles in 'our' world, meaning greater acceptance and understanding of trying this out. LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 8
  9. 9. NOTES FROM OUR AGILE DIARY… WEEK 1: 3.06.2013 “Difficult first attempt at agile planning. Took 90 mins to assess just 4 user stories. Struggling to find right balance btw. Some of the discussion felt like micromanagement. All of us outside our comfort zone. Full range of responses from very keen to reluctant.” (WEEK of 13.06.2013 All of team involved in an off site conference for most of week, so sprint was skipped.) WEEK 2: 20.06.2013 "Our second ‘agile’ week – better progress on planning and getting an overview by post-its on our windows. We’ve still got a way to go with this, but already we have a better overview of the (planned) activities.” LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 9
  10. 10. NOTES FROM OUR AGILE DIARY… WEEK 3: 27.06.2013 "Our third ‘agile’ week. Managing to have daily standups (shortest one was 10 minutes, longest ran to an hour, so there is some work to do on tightening them up!). It feels like we are uncovering issues more quickly than before and are more efficiently sharing what we are all working on.“ WEEK 4: 04.07.2013 "Our fourth ‘agile’ week. Daily standups not so regular this week. Realising that this is more than just another planning methodology – it is actually a fundamental shift in how we think about our work and its purpose. It is about learning and iterating in fast cycles – the plan-do-check-act cycle. It is about transparency and making visible what is often ‘hidden’ in our inboxes." WEEK 5: 12.07.2013 "Not much to report on the agile front this week, other than we are progressing and starting to build up a good rhythm. That will surely be tested as many of the team are out over the coming weeks (including me, starting Monday)." WEEKS 6, 7 & 8 Agile habits irregular whilst we had reduced team coverage over school holidays. PRESENTATION TITLE GOES HERE 10
  11. 11. NOTES FROM OUR AGILE DIARY… WEEK 9: 09.08.2013 “Coming back from vacation, it was a bit of an effort to get the agile practices going again. This showed me that the new ‘habits’ are not fully established yet and need continued discipline.” WEEK 10: 15.08.2013 “Agreed with team experiment with longer 2 week sprints. This should allow us to focus planning and tracking activities more on the big rocks, following the insight that it is not possible or necessary for us to track all ‘business as usual’ deliverables. First one of the longer sprints starts Monday 19th” WEEK 11: 22.08.2013 “We started the first of our two week ‘sprints’ on Monday. So far, so good.” WEEK 12: 30.08.2013 “Observations from our first two-week sprint – for the Bigfoot activities, it worked. […] some of the other activities slipped […]. In part this was because […] we were lax in estimating the time effort for the deliverables. […] Another observation was that our planning board only contained a fraction of the actual work done by the team – telling us that we again need to be more diligent about scanning our inboxes and other channels for incoming work and ensuring that this is fed into the planning..” PRESENTATION TITLE GOES HERE 11
  12. 12. SUMMARY OF APPROACH • Made work visible - Low-tech solutions to try methods quickly sticky notes & whiteboards. – We took it too far - rolled back when we realised that transferring an xls to the window and back again was just adding to the workload! • User stories to define deliverables • Started with 1 week sprints, then extended to 2 weeks to lessen the meeting load (planning & retros). • Meeting cycle - planning / daily standups / retrospective • Now booking around 40% of teams' available time. (Goal is to get to 70%) PRESENTATION TITLE GOES HERE 12
  13. 13. WHAT’S NEXT There’s no going back for us, but this is still early days and we expect to iterate the processes regularly as we scale the approach.
  14. 14. NEXT STEPS • Scale to the other EU teams - geographically dispersed, so we'll to adapt methods • Considering an experiment with Kanban • Upgrade from post-its to JIRA + Greenhopper, differentiated swim lanes for bugs, BAU & projects • More learning from the teams around us & external • Build out tracking and reporting in JIRA to capture customer impact, level of effort & stakeholder survey LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 14
  15. 15. WHAT WE LEARNT • Dailies & retros help us manage and measure our work – i.e. how well we scoped different types of tasks; seeing problem processes which we then tackled by standardization. • We’re able to evaluate bandwidth more realistically – we observed reduction in overtime (although other factors also played a role) • Has enabled easier reporting (up & out); aiding prioritisation, stakeholder management and team transparency. • We're still struggling with task estimation; still too much debate in planning and dailies; haven’t nailed format for our ‘user stories’ • Making the team's work visible meant everyone knew what each other is working on • Pragmatically & quickly cherry picking methods and diving in with lo-fi tools important to accelerate change process • It’s crucial to build habits & iterate LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 15
  16. 16. THANK YOU Any questions or feedback very welcome!
  17. 17. Q&A CONTACT EMAIL: mijones@ebay.de LINKEDIN: http://de.linkedin.com/in/michaelbjones/ TWITTER: @MikeJonesBerlin LEAN & AGILE FOR CONTENT 17
  18. 18. Copyright © Institut Lean France 2013 3 & 4 October, 2013 Paris, France More Lean IT videos and presentations on www.lean-it-summit.com

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