Several years ago, RightScale began a tradition of ‘hackathons’, devoting an entire day to letting people work on pet projects that might benefit the company. During the first two hackathons, I worked with a small team of developers to improve our analytics tracking, but in the fall of 2015, I decided to do a solo hackathon.
Having spoken with members of the RightScale sales, product, engineering, and services team, I came to understand a major information gap within the company: product and product design team members regularly spoke with customers, but these interactions were not well documented. Some were documented in the design section of our wiki, some in the product management section, and some not at all. As a result, sales and services team members would often engage with customers but not realize that product team members had already engaged with them on a similar issue. Furthermore, many customer interviews were directly applicable to engineering stories, but the engineering team had no easy way to identify them.
For this hackathon project, I set up several goals, based on the problems outlined above:
- Create a dedicated section of our wiki for customer notes, including full recordings of the session.
- Record product-customer interactions in Salesforce, so sales and services team members will know what occurred. These should include full notes.
- Link customer interview notes to related Jira tickets (engineering, product management, and product design).
To begin the project, I performed the following tasks:
- Generate a list of fields to include on a form.
- Quickly sketch a mock UI with a list of related forms.
- Investigate technologies to connect Jira, Confluence, and Salesforce
Because I only had one day, the initial version was extremely basic, but I managed to achieve the major goals. A user could enter the following information:
- Interview topic
- Interviewers (multiple)
- Interview subject (single)
- Interview time
- Interview notes
- Jira tickets (from same project)
Upon submission, a page would be created in confluence, as well as a record in Salesforce. The two would be linked. If any Jira tickets were added, they would also be linked to the Confluence page.
Upon completion of the first hackathon, product managers and UX designers at RightScale began using the tool to document customer interviews and user testing sessions. Based on this usage, I gathered feedback, and continued to spend my Friday afternoon personal project time continuing to improve upon the tool. These improvements include:
- UI style updates
- Support for multiple email subjects
- The ability to ignore Salesforce (useful for users who aren’t in our Salesforce system)
- The Confluence parent page for the interview
- Streamlined Jira ticket selection using AJAX-autocomplete Select2, allowing for any Jira project(s)
- Upload a recording in any format
- Send a notice to the product communication Slack channel when an interview is added
- Clear all field button.
The Customer Interview Tracker tool is still being used by the product team to track customer interactions.