Managing deadlines and client expectations during a period of budgetary restraints and changing senior leadership
GBC Digital were engaged in two separate roles within this project. In April 2018, we were asked to fill a vacant Business Analyst position and continue the progression and maintenance of the live, v1 Sun Savers project. Sun Savers is a rewards programme which gifts prizes and days out for its loyal members and due to its bespoke nature, required particular attention to detail and the ability to problem solve.
Following a change in senior leadership and the removal of the agency who were tasked with delivery of v2 Sun Savers, GBC Digital were hired to oversee the delivery of v2 from a Product Management perspective as well as on going Business Analysis. This came with (not uncommon) challenges - it needed to be out the door in 6 months, making best use of the existing development work from the external agency, and it needed to be better than the current version, which had been built over 2 years.
From the outset, our Business Analyst set about learning all about the 'Savers' technology stack, especially bespoke microservices which supported the product. As part of this engagement, we were partnered with an external development agency Clock and another key task was building a solid working relationship with their developers and senior leadership team (a relationship which continues to this day).
One of the challenges from the outset which was encountered, was the high pressure and high risk 'go-live' strategies we were seeing each week. Sun Savers is a relatively unique proposition in that it publishes weekly offers which go live to the public via a code collect mechanism. For example, collect 4 codes from the newspaper this week and you will unlock tickets to Alton Towers. A major issue with the current approach was that too many issues were being discovered once users had unlocked the codes, and this could be due to multiple issues - 3rd party integration bugs, CMS editor errors, microservice hiccups and the like.
While the pursuit of new and exciting features was a business goal, at GBC Digital we were able to shift focus on to improving our existing processes - with minimal development impact. Previous BA work had identified a solution to this problem, creating a separate live environment to test the integration work - however it required substantial dev resource. GBC digital were able to suggest, design and then implement a lean solution which involved the manipulation of a microservice which enabled an admin to unlock offers in the live environment instantly, and without user or business impact. Our solution required a fraction of the complexity, cost and time - and as soon as it was implemented our live issues dropped to zero.
The senior leadership had drastically changed towards the end of 2018, as well as the budget. Version 2 of the product was under threat, with the progress of the previous 6 months being far slower than expected. The result was the termination of the 3rd party development contract responsible for v2 and that included the product management team at NUK (News UK).
GBC Digital were asked to fill the available Product Manager position in January 2019. By this point the goalposts had drastically changed- the focus was clear, get a viable v2 out the door (developed at NUK) by July 2019. The handover of code from the previous agency had presented us with two problems, the % of work completed was very low and that which had been handed over was not easily re-used.
Our first requirement was to identify which code from the previous agency was actually workable. The NUK development team were hesitant to pick up half completed work from other developers and had expressed a preference to start entirely from scratch. Through close collaboration and compromise we were able to identify various components which could still be used, without jeopardising future velocity.
The next step was to begin to reimagine v2 under the lens of an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Our previous BA work with v1 was a useful starting point as we had become accustomed to the wants and the expectations of the customer base. The tricky part was convincing the business stakeholders who had been promised so much from the previous agency, that the MVP was viable and our only option to deliver a v2 under the new budgetary constraints. Trust was the key factor which allowed this project to progress. We had built a solid relationship with the 'Savers' product stakeholders over time and this was built around honesty, outlining complexity, and fronting up to difficult conversations.
Finally a vital part of our deliverable was executive communications. We were now the authority on 'Savers', and as a result we were the key line of communication between the team and the NUK executives. This was a fortnightly presentation and playback on the work ongoing, any risks, our priorities and our progress.
Sun Savers v2 went live on time and on budget. Following the end of GBC Digital's engagement was at 4/5 stars on the iOS app store. The offers which were available to users in the immediate period after go-live performed as expected, with overall redemption numbers exceeding those in previous years.
Version 2 of 'Savers' continues, and is able to progress more efficiently following a strong MVP footing. Future feature priority was identified by GBC Digital, enabling a new product management team (permanent NUK staff) to take over the reigns with handover documentation and training.
The success of the 'Savers' v2 opened doors for GBC Digital to be hired for another NUK internal project which was kicking off in October 2019.
Thank you for everything!!!
You've been brilliant and we will miss you.
Justine Salter, Head of Loyalty, NUK
Thank you so much for your incredible leadership, creativity and hard work
Kirsteen King, Director of Portfolio, NUK
Thanks so much for all your help and hard work on Savers - you have been amazing and I know everyone will miss you working on the team!
Aimee Burge, Promotions Manager, Sun Savers