2022 marked the launch of our Team Delivery Awards, which celebrated internal and external engagements that wowed us. The awards included Above & Beyond (for a small and large team who worked on projects that were technically complex and took creativity on the part of each team member to deliver an incredible final product), Client Excellence (for a small and large team whose hard work was praised by their clients, either through client testimonials, additional referrals or raving fan submissions) and Trailblazer (a team who was innovative and brought game-changing ideas to a project). In the process of reviewing all of the impressive nominations, I had the chance to learn more about these engagements and reflect on some of the lessons that I, as well as our entire team, could take with us. Here are five things that the Team Delivery Awards winners have taught me.
Don’t Get Stymied by Internal “Walls”
An enterprise logistics client needed to get this department’s first customer-facing application to market. Throughout the process, our team sometimes ran into individuals and groups who were hesitant to do something that wasn’t “by the book”. Large organizations are often risk averse and set up to say no first, so it requires some strategy to figure out how to hoist your team over those internal “walls.” You’ve got to be resilient, persistent, confident in your capabilities and in the ultimate success of the mission. This team was all of that and more, charting new territory with the client’s DevOps and internal teams within a huge, global organization. This team helped our client be the first to market with this type of application, giving them an edge over their competition. Additionally, client feedback on this system has been overwhelmingly positive from Customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) ratings to internal teams now arguing over what great new features should be added to the system.
Build Purpose-driven Solutions
What would you do if you knew that some of society’s most vulnerable people were overpaying for prescription drugs? That’s the problem that our client and our team set out to rectify. They provide information to pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies to help healthcare providers choose the lowest-cost prescription drugs when discounts and volumes are incorporated for the buyer. This solution would help seniors and Medicare recipients, who according to Weiss Research overpay for prescription drug coverage 85% of the time. Our client had huge amounts of data, but their processes for collecting that data were complicated and largely manual. It involved FTP and Excel files, MS-Access databases, an out of date Oracle product and limited Tableau reporting. In short, there was a big chance that the data could be inaccurate and conflicting. Our team took all of these data points and created a single database on Azure as the first step. Subsequently the team built a set of tools and analysis capabilities to easily access and analyze the data. They ensured our client had a comprehensive, easy-to-use solution that gave them confidence in their data and automated compliance to meet HIPAA/HITRUST requirements. And more importantly, it’ll provide senior citizens the insights they need to make smarter choices when buying prescription drugs.
Teach a Client to Fish…
Have you ever heard the phrase “give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to fish and feed them for a lifetime”? A fast-growing SaaS company engaged with us to help them build the user experience of their revenue-generating platform. Through new filters and views, it would enable their customers to easily learn how to use the tool. Our User Experience (UX) team proved their capabilities by iteratively demonstrating options and recommendations to the CTO and CEO, who were involved in design reviews. They were so impressed with our UX team’s leadership and vision they asked our team leaders to temporarily direct and manage our client’s UX design department. This involved leading the recruitment of the new UX Director and their team, building and aligning their UX team as it was hired and defining and implementing UX best practices within their software development life cycle. By helping our client define and implement their own UX best practices, they set themselves up to be UX leaders within their organization and enabled them to feed themselves.
Don’t Limit Yourself to a Job Title
Our client, a large US-based airline, partnered with Sparq to design, build and test new enhancements and resolve any defects within an application that had been started, but was currently stalled. This often led to finding the “hanging thread,” which meant even more design/build/testing. This assignment would be challenging enough supporting a client in a typical “9-5” industry, but an airline is simply not that type of company. Our team knew that going into production there would be a lot of after-hours support required and they continuously stepped up to do that, going beyond what their title or initial responsibilities required of them. It was great to see the amount of volunteering and the lack of complaining, despite having to go far beyond Sparq’s typical expectations for an engagement. This team was excited to see their solution work in such a highly visible environment and see the reward for their hard work lead to additional engagements with this client.
With the Right Client/Partner Relationship, Anything is Possible.
Sparq has been working with the leading online automotive marketplace for over five years, first by supporting their initial website, improving SEO and building new functionality to keep up with the online desires and expectations of car shoppers. The CTO decided to replatform their website for the next generation of users and selected Elixir as their programming language. Despite having no one on our team who had worked with the relatively new, scalable and highly concurrent language, our client trusted our ability to not only learn this technology, but to master it. We matured from having no Elixir experience to having 15+ colleagues who were critical to replatforming this highly complex application, as well as building new iOS and Android mobile applications. They did this all while “keeping the lights on” with the legacy site, which had over one million visits a day. This experience led to the creation of a new Elixir practice discipline within the Digital Engineering practice at Sparq. When you have tech professionals who are motivated to solve problems and a client who trusts in their abilities, you have an environment where creative solutions happen.
I find myself constantly inspired by the creativity and dedication that our colleagues bring to their engagements. It’s incredible to know that these lessons are from just a handful of the many impressive efforts I’ve witnessed throughout Sparq. Congratulations to our first Team Delivery Awards winners on their achievements!
About the Author:
As Sparq’s Chief Executive Officer, Monty Hamilton leads the executive team and drives the company’s overall strategy. Sparq is a unique digital engineering company focused on helping its clients realize their digital transformation strategies and creating thousands of technology careers in places where they otherwise would not exist. Monty has helped grow the firm through two private equity investments to become the largest privately held digital engineering firm with colleagues across the US and Latin America. He is a sought-after speaker on the outsourcing and domestic sourcing topic and has recently been featured on CNBC, BBC, NPR radio and at various industry conferences including IAOP, Gartner, Digital Georgia and others. In addition, recent articles depicting Sparq’s innovative outsourcing model have appeared in Business Week, CNN Money magazine, CFO magazine and CIO magazine.
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