ProtoShare Streamlines Knowlagent's Agile Process
“The result of ProtoShare is that our first build is quite close to what is wanted, meaning we spend far less time in rework than we did before.”
Knowlagent is a software product company that specializes in Software-as-a-Service solutions for call centers. Their flagship application, RightTime™, converts agent downtime into Active Wait Time by directing agents to training and coaching activities, thereby increasing productivity. John Wolf is the Chief Marketing Officer at Knowlagent and drives the marketing and product management groups.
Because RightTime™ is a SaaS product, Knowlagent continually develops the software in an Agile environment. The product management team collaborates with customers, developers, and other internal groups to develop user experience (UX) designs and requirements, and then the engineers begin their coding sprints.
In the beginning, Knowlagent accomplished this process through a few sketched mockups and detailed, written specification documents. They learned that customers did not read the long, text-based requirements for new product ideas and engineers often built something other than what Product Management expected. Knowlagent needed a tool to help them bridge the communication gaps between customers and product managers and product managers and engineers.
Why Use ProtoShare?
“I had learned about ProtoShare during my tenure at a previous company and liked it from the start,” Wolf says, "so we thought we’d give it a try at Knowlagent.” ProtoShare now serves as Knowlagent’s communication vehicle allowing them to convey concepts visually to both customers and engineers.
Using ProtoShare has also improved their Agile process, as the product management team is able to work a full sprint ahead of the engineering team to keep development progressing.
Product Management begins by holding idea sessions for products and features, sketching on a white board, and taking the short list of winners to wireframe in ProtoShare. From there, they convene with internal stakeholders (including sales and management), collect feedback, and iterate and refine their ideas in ProtoShare. The Knowlagent product management team conducts a second review round, even incorporating customers, and simultaneously compiles user stories, which are the primary written documents. After a series of reviews to lock down function and design, they annotate the prototype and it is backlogged for engineers. Engineering tasks in the backlog reference the ProtoShare prototypes.
“Because ProtoShare is a full-featured tool, flexible, and easy to use, we can iterate through this process quickly,” Wolf explains. “It really helps us through the process and gives our stakeholders a better understanding of our intentions before the requirements hit the backlog.”
Knowlagent claims two major benefits since incorporating ProtoShare into their process: First, it makes their overall development process more efficient, and second, it ensures their product releases meet customers' expectations.
Regarding the first benefit, Wolf says, “The result of ProtoShare is that our first build is quite close to what is wanted, meaning we spend far less time in rework than we did before.” However, he concludes that the second benefit of ProtoShare is of even greater value. “We’re able to involve customers in the process and that makes our product better. It also brings us closer to our customers, resulting in stronger relationships.”