How Application Development is like a Team Sport

With the Olympics coming to Rio de Janerio this summer there will be plenty of individual and team athletic achievement on display. Individual performances can be awe-inspiring. Just think about Usain Bolt at the London games, for example.

With individual sports it’s clear where the main onus lies. But the benefit of team sports is that there are others to help share the load. One player’s weaknesses are supported by another teammate’s strengths.

The same dynamic can be applied to software development. Not only can a team approach utilize each member’s specific skill set, but by narrowing the focus on a given project it can be more efficient in both the short-term building phase and the long-term maintenance phase of the application’s life cycle.

The Case of Rupert’s Insurance

Let’s use a hypothetical example to illustrate how all of this works. Enter Rupert’s Insurance company. Rupert’s sells home, life, auto, and motorcycle insurance across the country. But the company prides itself on being a national brand while providing the service of a local company. They want to be like Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

In order to accomplish this, the company decides that they want to customize their self-service offerings at the state level. This requires dozens of different apps that are both product and brand specific. Building this many apps from scratch could be a time and resource intensive undertaking. However, using a visual development platform like Plum Fuse makes the entire project much easier.

In this example we have four different players:


The Defense

Now getting everything set up and integrated is one of the biggest hurdles to clear. At this point let’s assume that finance and marketing have collaborated on a call-flow so that the developers know what the application should look like.

Using that call-flow as a blueprint, one of Rupert’s core developers, Ryan, begins the task of building the application framework. In Fuse, this is done using a drag-and-drop visual interface. Mr. Rupert, the company’s CEO, wants to make efficient use of his developers and can’t really afford to take Ryan away from his primary duties for too long.

So Ryan creates the skeleton for the application. He connects all the pieces together, links the application to the company’s CRM database, and does some basic testing to make sure it works. At this point, Ryan needs to get back to his backlog of other projects.

Because Fuse is a collaborative platform, Ryan shared access to the application with the other stakeholders. These granular controls enabled him to limit who could do what in the application. The options here include: view, edit flow, edit audio, clone, or re-share. This way no one could tinker with the skeleton, making more work for Ryan.

The Playmakers

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Now Erin is in the marketing department and she is in charge of branding. It’s her job to make things sparkle. She also keeps an eye on all of Rupert’s external communications and ensures that they conform to the companies’ established guidelines. Ryan gave Erin permission to edit the prompts (which are part of the call-flow here), to edit the application’s audio, and to clone the app.

The company chose to start with California, so all of the prompts and audio recordings were tailored to customers in the Golden State. Knowing that the company needed apps for each of the 48 contiguous states, Erin and the marketing team created prompt copy and audio recordings for each of the other states while Ryan put the bones of the application together.

Armed with a cache of copy and audio files, Erin cloned the California application. Starting at the beginning of the alphabet, she designated the new application clone for Alabama. She uploads the new audio files and enters the updated prompt text to match what her team developed for Alabama.

Once she’s done updating the Alabama application, she passes off the task of deployment to one of Rupert’s junior developers, Kelly.

Special Teams

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As a member of Rupert’s development team Kelly has full access to the application. Once the app is in her court, she selects the right phone number and tests out the cloned application. Using Fuse’s “run” option lets her test things out before going live. Once everything is working smoothly, Kelly deploys the application.

Any future changes the applications require will fall to Kelly so that Ryan can maintain his focus on core development projects.

Creating and deploying and application isn’t the end of the story. Just because an application (or a multiple applications) provide self-service for customers doesn’t mean that they should be ignored.

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When Ryan shared application access he also included the Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, Holly. Holly can only view the application and the data that it produces in VoiceTrends, which is Plum’s native analytics toolkit. Holly doesn’t need to understand the nuts and bolts of how the application works, she just needs to know that it does work and how customers use it. Therefore, access to the app’s VoiceTrends data is all she needs.

After deployment, Rupert’s applications function properly, but properly isn’t the same as optimally. This is where Kelly re-enters the field of play.

She keeps an eye on the data that Rupert’s apps produce. If she notices an abnormal trend or app performance declines in some aspect, then Kelly, who has complete access to the application, can go in and make any needed changes. She can also talk to both Erin and Holly who have access to the application’s data in order to brainstorm solutions.

If Velma needs updated prompt copy or audio files, she can tap Erin for that. And Erin can go ahead and input those changes directly to the application herself. That way she can make sure that everything is just exactly perfect without having to use Kelly as a go-between.

A Winning Strategy

At the end of the day, this type of platform and development approach helps to streamline app creation. Allowing team members to apply their expertise directly to an application reduces the number of dependencies for creating and managing technology. The result is a team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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