The secrets to releasing new technology on time and on budget

Project Management Ad Tech

Engineers frequently communicate and collaborate, which helps us deliver technology to the market quickly.

In 2015, the technology team at Altitude Digital launched a new publisher platform, created a state-of-the art dashboard with real-time analytics and one-of-a-kind reporting tools, spearheaded a first-of-its-kind fraud detection solution in partnership with Integral Ad Science, and created three new player products with an emphasis on delivering complete viewability.

When we set out to deliver this brand new platform and its fully integrated features, we knew it was a tall order. But we were committed to launching on time and on budget while always maintaining our high standard for quality. To accomplish this much in such a short period of time, we had to stay committed to our project goals and employ the right planning to ensure our success. Here are the three strategies we’ve found to be most critical to project success in an rapidly evolving industry.

Emphasize and Structure Communication. Product Management, Engineering, Data, IT, and Project Management are the teams under the CTO within our technology organization. Constant and open communication between these teams is absolutely vital to our success as we work toward our common goal of bringing our product roadmap to life. We’re a tight-knit bunch and you’ll frequently find us congregating together, checking in on our plan, and keeping each other up to date on progress so all the pieces come together in the end.

While ad hoc communication is key, we also have to structure communication channels to ensure we are all in lock-step. The channels include:

  • Daily Standup Meetings. To kick off our day, we go around the room and update each other on what we accomplished yesterday, what we will accomplish today, and anything standing in the way of achieving our goals. It allows us to keep each other up to date on what we’re doing and invites collaboration. 
  • Frequent Reviews of Our Product Roadmap. These reviews help us to flesh out features, discuss implementation, and build out “stories.”
  • Weekly Sprint Planning. As the Project Management lead, I meet with each team on a weekly basis to plan out what we want to accomplish in relation to our roadmap.

We also compile project dashboards to show what we’ve accomplished in the previous week and we review these often to see how we’re tracking toward our goal as well as identify and mitigate risks.

Build Flexibility Into Planning. We’re in a rapidly evolving industry and success is dependent on the ability to move and adapt to industry changes quickly. One of our team’s greatest strengths is its ability to execute and pivot quickly when necessary. We architect everything from our roadmap planning to our branching and deployment strategies to our project management processes to allow us to reprioritize our work as needed so we can respond to market demands.

We keep our releases moderate in size and don’t plan our sprints too far out which allows us to reprioritize features as needed. Having a team that is flexible and infrastructure in place to allow us to switch gears quickly help us to stay nimble.

Splitting up bigger features into smaller stories within JIRA helps us track and manage projects.

Choose the Right Tools. At Altitude, we rely heavily on Atlasssian products for project management and communication. We use JIRA for tracking product features, tasks, defects, and time, and Confluence for documentation. In JIRA, we track everything back to the product roadmap by creating “epics” that map to our roadmap themes, and building out stories and tasks that represent new features being added to the platform. This also helps us assign and track the work that needs to be done to implement them.

We use these tasks and stories as our guide during stand up meetings, and track time and burn down to see where we’re tracking in relation to our schedule and budget.

Communication, flexibility, and the right tools are all critical components to our success as a team. In 2016, we’ll continue to use these strategies to bring the very best technology in analytics, reporting, and brand safety to the digital media marketplace.

lfannin_220x220By Lisa Fannin
Sr. Director, Project Management

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