OpenBazaar Front End Lead Josh Jeffryes describes the evolution of OB1’s collaboration process for our entirely remote team building the decentralized marketplace, OpenBazaar:
The OB1 Process
Building great products requires a great process. As the OpenBazaar platform has grown, so has the way we work together to build it. We’ve continuously improved how we plan and execute our work, and as we near the release of version 2 of OpenBazaar, we’d like to share some insight into those improvements with you.
The Minimal Viable Process
OpenBazaar started as a side project, and at the start we had a side project process. We used Slack and Github, and kept things informal. As we grew into a full-time startup, with a fully remote team distributed across the world, we needed a startup process.
When your idea and team are small, a minimal process is ok. The idea fits in everyone’s minds, and you agree on what it is. But as the idea grows, it stops fitting, and the parts in each mind may not match. You need an external map so those parts still fit together when you’re done.
Without a process to create that map, you spend most of your time maintaining agreement about what you’re building, instead of building it.
This is where Agile was a critical tool for us. We constructed a process from Agile patterns, and added or removed patterns as we went.
We began by defining each feature needed for OpenBazaar version 2. Then we organized those features into sprints of 2 weeks each. This makes it possible to know if a UI feature will be built in sprint 6, the back end functionality needs to be built in spring 5, the design in sprint 4, and the specifications in sprint 3. Technical details were fleshed out in regular planning sessions before each sprint.
More Collaboration Means Less Everything Else
If you don’t use the same map, you don’t arrive at the same place. We stay on the map by constantly building it together.
Before any feature is worked on, we work together to define it over video conferencing, first as a user story (“the user wants to do “x”), then a design, and finally a detailed set of technical requirements.
When a feature is done, the code is reviewed by the whole team. A lead reviewer gives detailed feedback, but other members, even non-technical ones, comments on what the feature does and how it works.
We continue to improve and change our process. We’ve added back in some Agile patterns we discarded previously as too structured. When our sprints became more formal, with set planning, review, and retrospectives, Trello started to strain under the level of detail we needed. We moved to Jira, which allowed us to set up a customized process.
The OpenBazaar platform becomes stronger every day because we constantly iterate, test, and improve it. Like every great startup, we treat our process the same way.
In case you missed it, here is other notable news from the last couple of weeks:
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