One of the questions we commonly get here at Weekdone is: “How are others using this?”
That is a pretty tricky question for us, as privacy is our number 1 priority. We can only see the number of tasks / frequency of activity within a customer’s account, but lack insight into the content of the communications between the teams.
So with that in mind, we’re very excited to post our first interview with one of our customers, Justin Beere, who leads Communications & Special Projects for Kwarter. Our exchange below:
Thanks for taking out time to talk with us Justin. To kick off, what does Kwarter do?
Kwarter is the first mobile gamification platform for live TV. Brands and broadcasters use our technology to create novel second screen experiences that focus on social games which are synced with their live programming. In doing so they offer their audience an opportunity to forge deeper connections with their fellow viewers and the TV show itself, and to also get rewarded for their dedication to a program or channel.
Can you describe the structure of your team and it’s core function(s)?
We’re a startup, so we’re probably organized a lot like other early-stage companies. Our team naturally divides into two groups: engineers and non-engineers. The core function of the engineering group is pretty self-explanatory: these talented men and women build our product. They develop the features for our SDK, build mobile applications with our partners, and maintain an infrastructure that hosts television-sized audiences week in and week out. They’re lead by Sam Hickmann, our co-founder and head of product who works closely with the leads of mobile and platform, as well as a chief architect who oversees the broad vision and execution of our technology.
I’m in the other group, the non-engineers. Our job is everything else. Specifically, my team focuses on executing projects with our partners, developing new business, marketing the company, and managing our community of users. Our CEO and co-founder Carlos Diaz oversees the general business strategy and execution of the company, and works closely with his managers in both of these groups.
What was the main solution you were looking for in Weekdone?
The engineering group practices a traditional agile methodology, and uses tools like Trello, Smartsheet, and Hipchat to plan and communicate progress to one another. Meanwhile, on the business side, we were simply using email and meetings to prioritize our time and communicate status with one another. It sucked.
As we started going into production with this year’s big projects, we found ourselves buried deeper and deeper under asynchronous email exchanges and regroup meetings just to understand what the hell each of us was working on that week. We needed a simple tool like the engineers had to provide some structure for ourselves and visibility to one another on what exactly we were focused on during the week.
Carlos discovered Weekdone and suggested we give it a try. The non-engineering group’s been using it ever since.
What has improved by using Weekdone? Are there any unexpected benefits you have seen?
So far Weekdone’s rendered two clear results. First, for all of us, it’s brought some much-needed focus to the typical chaos of a startup environment. A lot of days I’d get to work, start responding to emails, put out a fire or two, get caught up in a product conversation, and all of a sudden it’s 6:30. I worked all day, but did I get anything done? So Carlos had this great idea: limit the number of “plans” you can make in a Weekdone week to five. You can only list five things you’d like to accomplish, and that’s it. When the list is short like that, the individual tasks seem more essential, and as a whole seem less daunting to accomplish.
For me personally, it’s surprising how useful it is to have a browser window open at all times with a short list of things I need to do. It’s so easy to get distracted by all the emails, I’ve come to really rely on having that little browser window to glance at when I feel like information is starting to spill out of my ears. And of course the feeling of moving things to “progress” has become a nice little motivator. Who doesn’t like to check things off a list?
The way that Justin and the rest of the team at Kwarter are using Weekdone is exactly what we envisioned when the product was launched. Our aim is to provide clients an area where they can track and list their accomplishments, progress, and challenges on weekly basis and share that high level insight with their team(s). In return, co-workers /managers know what others are working on, areas which may require additional resources, and communicate input / feedback as well. Lastly, as Justin can attest, our aim is to allow each individual to block out minor tasks and to-do’s and focus on some BIG PICTURE items, thus increasing productivity.