In software development, the reality is that there so many things that can go wrong. One example is a high-priority defect being discovered right before a build needs to be shipped. This puts developers and testers in a stressful situation where working extra hours might be the only option. Obviously, this isn’t a good thing, and if it occurs frequently enough, it can lead to a negative work-life balance. Another example is having a product owner who’s constantly creating unrealistic timeframes for new features. Both of these dynamics can lead to a loss of team morale. At Anonyome Labs, we understand these challenges and try our best to ensure that our products not only meet our stakeholder’s expectations, but also our expectations as actual users of the products.
One thing that we do is have a company-wide internal beta before we ship a major release. This strategy works well for a number of reasons. It allows our products to be tested by trusted users who provide regular feedback. Also, it leads to better, more realistic scenarios being tested, which can bring to light unique edge cases that would otherwise go unnoticed. In order for this to be an effective strategy, however, there has to be a shift from team-based responsibility to company-wide ownership. By having company-wide ownership, we’re able to improve not only the quality of our products, but also increase the amount of value they provide to our end users.
Company Culture is Key
Our work culture is a notable part of Anonyome Labs. We’re encouraged to be okay with ambiguity and to think outside of the box. This has led to many new features and improvements being implemented in our products. Also, we’re committed to the idea of “one team, one dream”. Because of this commitment, there’s never a shortage of people willing to contribute towards making our products the very best they can possibly be. Our design, development, and testing teams approach internal feedback as being valuable and a high priority. They’re very user-focused and encourage everyone, no matter what department they work in, to voice their opinions. This has led to design-related issues and defects being fixed prior to our end users discovering them. Also, this has helped make our testing team more confident in the quality of our products and gives us more time to do exploratory testing. Increasing the amount of time testers spend doing exploratory testing ultimately leads to more defects being identified, defects being fixed sooner, and overall better products.
It’s certainly possible for tech companies today to be successful without everyone contributing to the company vision, but it’s not ideal. If you feel like your company isn’t very collaborative, or that your work culture seems like it would clash with this approach, then there are several steps that you can take. The first step is getting management on board with the idea. Once they’ve agreed to shift from team-based responsibility to company-wide ownership, that’s when progress can be made. Also, if you have products that can fulfill employees’ needs, more colleagues will be willing to invest their time using them, as end users, outside of the workplace. There might be some resistance in the beginning, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. Your end users will enjoy your products more, your stakeholders will be pleased, and ultimately, you and your colleagues will enjoy work more.