August 24, 2016

Ticketscript Insights – Funneling Ideas

Every product, every feature, every solution… they all start with an idea. Ideas are the kickstart of anything that’s ever been designed and built. They are the foundation of everything that we come up with to help our beloved event organisers become more successful.

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Needless to say, at ticketscript we try to create an environment where generating and developing ideas is stimulated.

 

Back in the day

When we were a smaller company, coming up with new features (and implementing them) was easy. Being a IT/sales/support/entrance/account manager, I was closely involved with all parts of the business. Being in a sales pitch and talking to an event organiser, they would explain to me what they needed to take control of their ticket sales. Answering questions from ticket buyers, I could relate to their pains. Managing entrances I quickly found out that we needed to improve battery life of our first generation scanners.

Ideas presented themselves. I can’t count the number of times I used to wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, run to my laptop and immediately start to work on a solution. Just one of the perks of wearing all those hats, including the one of developer.

 

Today

When a company grows, usually the number of people grows. We now have dedicated teams to communicate with clients, manage ticket buyer support and awesome people to support our clients with onsite event management. Not to mention some highly skilled developers and engineers.

Managing a product team forces me to talk to end-users. Think like they do. Get under their skin. Coming up with solutions for their needs and problems. The beauty of a growing company is there are colleagues that run into issues and discussion with end users every single day. They are your eyes and ears. Listen to them. Talk to them. Try to see your product through their eyes as well.

Give them a way to “channel their energy”. If you have like-minded colleagues – which I am proud to say I have – they care as much about the product as you do. I can’t count the number of times people bounce ideas off me or enthusiastically tell me they’ve come up with a great solution (reminder: keep asking questions until you know what the actual problem is they’re trying to solve ;-).

Having used countless spreadsheets and email processes in the past, we switched to using a centralised tool to gather and scope ideas last year. We now use ProdPad for this, but there are other tools out there which will probably do the trick as well. ProdPad allows us to have one centralised place all colleagues can go to and drop ideas in. Whether that’s the sales person that just came from a client meeting, the finance department or a developer who discovered a new tool which would be awesome to implement. It helps the product team to get insight into the struggles they run into, improves internal communication and helps to build a better business case in order to improve prioritisation.

 

Some key things I learned while introducing this “idea’s process” within the organisation;

  • Explain clearly that “reporting an idea” does not mean “Of course, it will be on the roadmap!”. This is very important! Be clear about this or the process will backfire.
  • Review incoming ideas on a weekly basis. Involve the entire product team, UX and designers in this review.
  • Always provide feedback. Even if it’s “we’ll have a look at it in the coming months”, always let the reporter of an idea know you’ve seen it.
  • Always make sure a business case is provided. It forces the reporter to think about their idea.
  • Group ideas. This will help you when certain epics have to be scoped or planned. (Epics are significantly larger bodies of work that generally take more than one or two sprints [fixed periods of time], to develop and test. They are usually broad in scope, short on details, and will commonly need to be split into multiple, smaller stories [or projects] before the team can work on them)
  • Do whatever works for you. Whether it’s using ProdPad, email or a spreadsheet; it’s not about the tool, it’s about what works for you and your organisation.

 

Whatever method you use to extract the best out of ideas, it’s important to let your inspired colleagues have an outlet. You never know where or when innovation will present itself!

 

Written by Ruben van den Heuvel, Director of Product

  • “I can’t count the number of times I used to wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, run to my laptop and immediately start to work on a solution.” <– haha, this speaks to me so much.

    This is great insight, thanks for sharing Ruben! I definitely agree with the "Always provide feedback" point – so important in keeping the team enthusiastic about getting involved in the product.