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After the launch: the difficult teenage years

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Slides from my talk at Continuous Lifecycle 2019: https://continuouslifecycle.london/sessions/launch-difficult-teenage-years/

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After the launch: the difficult teenage years

  1. 1. Anna Shipman Tech Director of Customer Products, Financial Times @annashipman After the launch: the difficult teenage years
  2. 2. @annashipman
  3. 3. @annashipman
  4. 4. @annashipman
  5. 5. Anna Shipman Tech Director of Customer Products, Financial Times @annashipman After the launch: the difficult teenage years
  6. 6. @annashipman
  7. 7. @annashipman
  8. 8. @annashipman
  9. 9. @annashipman
  10. 10. It was a monolith that could only be released out of hours @annashipman
  11. 11. It was released monthly @annashipman
  12. 12. There was no way to move to continuous deployment @annashipman
  13. 13. The site was slow @annashipman
  14. 14. It wasn’t responsive @annashipman
  15. 15. No-one owned the whole thing @annashipman
  16. 16. A small team worked on a prototype called “Next” @annashipman
  17. 17. Microservices, Node.js, focus on speed, shipping and measurement @annashipman
  18. 18. 5% of users opted in to the “Next” beta @annashipman
  19. 19. Launched to everyone in October 2016 @annashipman
  20. 20. Now it ships hundreds of times a week @annashipman
  21. 21. The site is much faster @annashipman
  22. 22. It has an A/B testing framework built in @annashipman
  23. 23. It allows measurement @annashipman
  24. 24. Recency, frequency, volume (RFV) is our engagement metric @annashipman
  25. 25. An engagement score above 18.2 = likely to resubscribe @annashipman
  26. 26. A/B testing means we may not release features @annashipman
  27. 27. @annashipman Mean % drop in article views between variants and control Page load time 7 days impact 28 days 1 second slower -4.9% -4.6% 2 second slower — -5.0% 3 second slower -7.2% -7.9%
  28. 28. 1 second delay = -£millions @annashipman
  29. 29. @annashipman
  30. 30. I joined the FT in April 2018 @annashipman
  31. 31. @annashipmanPhoto credit: Helen Hayward
  32. 32. There were some problems @annashipman
  33. 33. @annashipman Not sure of the value of the work Not owning or guiding a system just jamming bits in “Need more developers” Areas of code people didn’t want to touch Having to deploy things in a certain order Duplication of code Some of the people who set technical direction had moved to other projects Feature changes felt too bitty
  34. 34. These are the three main themes in the difficult teenage years @annashipman
  35. 35. Lack of clear vision @annashipman
  36. 36. Tech feels like it’s drifting @annashipman
  37. 37. Things aren’t communicated as well as they used to be @annashipman
  38. 38. Your strategy for getting out of the difficult teenage years @annashipman
  39. 39. @annashipman
  40. 40. 1. Diagnosis 2. Vision 3. How to get there @annashipman
  41. 41. 1. Diagnosis 2. Vision 3. How to get there @annashipman
  42. 42. Set the vision @annashipman
  43. 43. I’m not going to debate vision vs mission vs blah @annashipman
  44. 44. Vision is where you want to get to @annashipman
  45. 45. You need a vision so you know what you are aiming for @annashipman
  46. 46. So the team know what they are aiming for and why @annashipman
  47. 47. So people outside the team know where you’re going @annashipman
  48. 48. So you know what success looks like @annashipman
  49. 49. The vision for launch is easy to communicate @annashipman
  50. 50. “Everything will be amazing” @annashipman
  51. 51. The new thing will replace something everyone knows the flaws of @annashipman
  52. 52. In the run-up to launch people hear what they want to hear @annashipman
  53. 53. Launch date clears the mind, allows descoping @annashipman
  54. 54. Next’s vision for launch @annashipman
  55. 55. - Fast - Responsive - Can experiment - Measure everything @annashipman
  56. 56. The vision after the launch needs more effort @annashipman
  57. 57. Reality hits home @annashipman
  58. 58. Not *everything* is amazing @annashipman
  59. 59. Some problems remain unresolved @annashipman
  60. 60. People come back to ask for descoped features @annashipman
  61. 61. Now you no longer have the deadline, why is that feature out? @annashipman
  62. 62. Goals are not finish lines @annashipman
  63. 63. You need to put more effort into defending the vision than before the launch @annashipman
  64. 64. More effort than you imagine @annashipman
  65. 65. It needs to be very clear @annashipman
  66. 66. Setting the vision for after the launch @annashipman
  67. 67. It might be the same vision as for the launch @annashipman
  68. 68. @annashipman
  69. 69. You shouldn’t need to understand the structure of government @annashipman
  70. 70. Launch: Replace Directgov @annashipman
  71. 71. After the launch: Replace the other sites @annashipman
  72. 72. Your vision for after the launch might be different but clear @annashipman
  73. 73. @annashipman
  74. 74. @annashipman
  75. 75. @annashipman
  76. 76. @annashipman
  77. 77. Or you might need a new vision @annashipman
  78. 78. We bought in an external facilitator to help with the FT.com product vision @annashipman
  79. 79. You might want to involve a lot of people @annashipman
  80. 80. Advantage: more people feel ownership @annashipman
  81. 81. Disadvantage: potential of design by committee @annashipman
  82. 82. You don’t need to hire a consultant @annashipman
  83. 83. You can do this with a small team or by yourself @annashipman
  84. 84. @annashipman
  85. 85. We want FT.com tech to be maintainable and supportable @annashipman
  86. 86. We don’t want another rebuild in a few years @annashipman
  87. 87. No next “Next” @annashipman
  88. 88. Vision is crucial @annashipman
  89. 89. You have to work harder to clarify and defend the vision after launch @annashipman
  90. 90. It is not too late @annashipman
  91. 91. Also: it’s all about communication @annashipman
  92. 92. 1. Diagnosis 2. Vision 3. How to get there @annashipman
  93. 93. Identify the highest impact areas to work on @annashipman
  94. 94. Tech feels like it’s drifting @annashipman
  95. 95. Corners cut to get the site live come back to bite @annashipman
  96. 96. There might be things left out of the launch @annashipman
  97. 97. What are the areas to focus on now to get to your vision? @annashipman
  98. 98. What are the highest impact steps you can take? @annashipman
  99. 99. How to work out the steps @annashipman
  100. 100. You might just know what the first steps are @annashipman
  101. 101. Listen to the patterns in what people say @annashipman
  102. 102. @annashipmanPhoto credit: @itsallgonewrong
  103. 103. Send surveys or ask people to vote @annashipman
  104. 104. @annashipman
  105. 105. Spotify healthcheck can give you an idea of areas to focus on @annashipman
  106. 106. Look for artefacts e.g. tech principles, dashboards @annashipman
  107. 107. A live site is different to a site in development @annashipman
  108. 108. How does out of hours support work? @annashipman
  109. 109. How do you handle critical security vulnerabilities? @annashipman
  110. 110. How do you act on customer feedback? @annashipman
  111. 111. Measure things @annashipman
  112. 112. But be careful about how you interpret the results @annashipman
  113. 113. We’re working on our measurement so your tips are very welcome! @annashipman
  114. 114. You need to tell people what the next steps are @annashipman
  115. 115. It’s a new phase @annashipman
  116. 116. Some people will have moved on @annashipman
  117. 117. The areas we are focusing on @annashipman
  118. 118. No next “Next” @annashipman
  119. 119. Making our out of hours process sustainable @annashipman
  120. 120. Refreshing and communicating our tech principles @annashipman
  121. 121. Measuring the quality and simplicity of our systems @annashipman
  122. 122. We are 2+ years on from launch @annashipman
  123. 123. It’s not too late @annashipman
  124. 124. The priorities for your tech will be different after launch @annashipman
  125. 125. You should focus on the highest impact areas @annashipman
  126. 126. Also: it’s all about communication @annashipman
  127. 127. 1. Diagnosis 2. Vision 3. How to get there @annashipman
  128. 128. Communicate! @annashipman
  129. 129. You must communicate the vision @annashipman
  130. 130. You must communicate your tech priorities @annashipman
  131. 131. Talk about it more than you think is necessary @annashipman
  132. 132. Repeat yourself until you are bored of your own voice saying it @annashipman
  133. 133. It will be new to someone each time you say it @annashipman
  134. 134. Put a lot of effort into communicating @annashipman
  135. 135. Inside your team so people know what to focus on @annashipman
  136. 136. Outside the team so people understand the direction of travel @annashipman
  137. 137. Some ideas about how to communicate @annashipman
  138. 138. Create a wiki page for your vision and priorities @annashipman
  139. 139. Update on progress in a newsletter @annashipman
  140. 140. Give regular tech talks, show and tells @annashipman
  141. 141. @annashipmanPhoto credit: @benterrett
  142. 142. “It will feel like propaganda to you but no-one will notice” — Russell Davies, former Director of Strategy at GDS @annashipman
  143. 143. Public blog posts are very useful @annashipman
  144. 144. They are most useful for new starters @annashipman
  145. 145. Blog about the launch and what it replaced @annashipman
  146. 146. Blog about technical decisions as you go on @annashipman
  147. 147. Talks are good! @annashipman
  148. 148. Useful for you as it helps you clarify @annashipman
  149. 149. It’s not too late @annashipman
  150. 150. You may have to create channels for communication @annashipman
  151. 151. It’s all about communication! @annashipman
  152. 152. You can have the best vision and strategy but if no-one knows about it it’s worthless @annashipman
  153. 153. To get out of the difficult teenage years: @annashipman
  154. 154. Set a clear vision for after the launch @annashipman
  155. 155. Create a plan that focuses on the highest impact areas @annashipman
  156. 156. Communicate them! @annashipman
  157. 157. It’s not too late to address any of these things @annashipman
  158. 158. It’s also not too late to join us on this journey! roles.ft.com @annashipman
  159. 159. Thanks! roles.ft.com @annashipman

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