2U, Inc Aha! Moment
Our goal was to find a way to improve the quality and efficiency of our product development and roadmapping process. We found that — and more — with Aha!Kailey Roeder, Product Manager: Internal IT Systems
2U, Inc. [NASDAQ: TWOU] partners with leading colleges and universities to deliver the world's best online degree programs so students everywhere can reach their full potential. Our platform, a fusion of cloud-based software-as-a-service technology and technology-enabled services, provides schools with the comprehensive operating infrastructure they need to attract, enroll, educate, support, and graduate students globally. Blending live face-to-face classes, dynamic course content, and real-world learning experiences, 2U's No Back Row® approach ensures that every qualified student can experience the highest quality university education for the most successful outcome.
We had a problem
2U's product development team works diligently to provide quality products and services to our university partners. Over the past several years, while working with the engineering team, our product team relied exclusively on software development ticketing systems including Jira and Pivotal Tracker.
Unfortunately, these systems did not always provide our product managers with accurate visibility or a way to manage product timelines, roadmaps, or overall product structures. At times our timelines seemed out of sync with various product and business initiatives, which resulted in duplicative efforts and inefficiencies.
After further examining our processes, we realized that certain areas could use improvement. We needed a better way to organize our communication and information prior to entering into development. Most importantly, we found that the minutia of existing ticketing systems was inefficient at advancing our products through to completion. We wanted to plan and execute in a more cohesive fashion and we needed a more systematic approach for making and rationalizing decisions.
Aha! as a solution
With these ongoing concerns in mind, a member of 2U’s product team introduced Aha! to the group. And the team quickly found ways to put it to use and embraced the tool.
Our initial impression was that Aha! provided a high-level view of our products that we had not previously had insight into. The timeline view impacted our process, most notably helping drive pacing. Using Aha! helped our product teams envision and organize work far in advance of projected release, helping all team members hit deadlines and focus on the big picture.
We quickly discovered, however, that Aha! was far more than a simple timeline of events and goals. For example, we recently realized that Aha! could benefit our strategic partnerships and implementation teams.
Each of our partnerships involves a lengthy development cycle with different features tailor-made to meet each partner's needs. These teams anticipate using Aha! to execute implementations for new clients in a more streamlined and standardized fashion, which we believe will help 2U meet internal and external expectations and help ensure smooth launches for our partner programs.
Further, Aha! has helped our teams create efficiencies that touch multiple working groups. For complex work that crosses multiple departments, we now have a broad, high-level view of our roadmaps ready and available at any time. This has helped build cohesive working relationships across 2U teams, while still permitting individual teams to review and update the more granular aspects of their individual roles and responsibilities.
Life is good
We love Aha! because it is helping drive development while improving organization within our product departments through customization and integration with our existing suite of development tools. Each department we introduce to Aha! finds new and unique ways to modify the system to improve on workflows, processes, and overall organization.
Aha! clearly provides visibility into products and planned work — that visibility makes users comfortable with the platform. In our experience, 2U teams have utilized Aha! to help coordinate ongoing product work, not only within individual teams, but across different departments.