This US-Based digital iGaming and sports betting organization builds and operates online web and mobile applications for clients throughout the United States. Initially reliant on a third-party payments processor with limited native integration, I was tasked with modernizing and enhancing the integrated E-Commerce platform. This project involved migrating the development environments to Kubernetes to increase stability and performance, building an integrated payments API to drive the native iOS and Android app experiences, and ultimately expanding the payment method offering to include direct banking integration (EFT/ACH), Debit and Credit transactions, cash deposit and withdrawal options for consumers, and even planned support for cryptocurrency.
2020 - 2021
Agile - Scrum
The E-Commerce enhancement project faced a number of obstacles before I joined the team. They were plagued with manual processes which resulted in excessive development times; there was an insufficient amount of data available on the team metrics, making accurate roadmapping and sprint planning difficult; and a formal refinement process had not been implemented, which resulted in wildly inacurate estimations and widespread confusion between the QA and Dev teams alike.
In addition to the various process-related challenges facing the team, the previous product roadmap included timelines and estimates which were based on the incomplete data derived from the broken or missing internal processes. This caused major issues as a Product Owner, as the previous management had communicated milestones and delivery dates to internal and external stakeholders which were not only inaccurate, but in many cases unrealistic as well. This version of the roadmap also failed to take into account priorities or projects which were external to the development team, as well as the team’s availability and capacity - metrics which I personally believe to be essential to the Agile planning process.
The final challenge facing the E-Commerce platform, was the reliance on a single external vendor for their payment processing. This reliance resulted in a limited amount of funding or cash-out options, as well as workflows which funneled the user in and out of the application, both of which ultimately resulted in an unappealing experience for the end-user.
To build a competitive E-Commerce platform, there were a number of foundational steps which needed to be prioritized before the team could be effective. First, the Agile process within the team was revitalized. I began by implementing formal backlog refinement and estimation processes and best-practices, which helped to alleviate confusion and create a shared understanding within the development team. Once these processes were in place we were able to gather more accurate metrics, allowing me to properly develop a new product roadmap with accurate timelines and delivery dates.
These enhancements provided the foundation needed to comfortably improve our processes further. At this time, I began working with the QA Management team to build QA Automation for our testing processes, which allowed us to reduce our QA timeline estimates from measurements in days to hours. Simultaneously, my development team worked to move our development environments to cloud-hosted Kubernetes instances, which improved reliability, reduced down-time, and increased the speed with which we could build and deliver working code.
With these changes implemented, I was able to focus my efforts on the product-centric challenges. First, we developed deposit and withdrawal API’s, which enabled our native iOS and Android teams to create user experiences which remained within the applications instead of redirecting users to pages outside of the application. Furthermore, my Architect and I began working with new vendors to design an E-Commerce solution which would enable the faster integration of a broader range of payment methods for our users.
These solutions and newly realized efficiencies, allowed us to increase our payment method offering by 200% within the first 60 days, and new payment methods were added regularly over the next several sprints - while simultaneously onboarding new SaaS partners along the way.
Managing the E-Commerce product at this company, was an opportunity for me to identify pain points and inefficiencies, and rapidly implement solutions which would ultimately not only improve the experience for the end-user, but also the day-to-day operations of my development team. By focusing my efforts on building a strong foundation, we were able to realize faster development times, shorter testing iterations, and ultimately deliver value to our stakeholders at a much greater pace than before.
This project served to illustrate that a proper foundation is imperative to the success of any development team. Rebuilding these missing pieces, although perceived to be small components in the grand scheme, resulted in noticeable changes to the pace of development, reduced errors and reported bugs, and enabled the development team to build effective code without being impeded by broken or cumbersome processes. In addition to the increased performance of the development team, these changes also enabled myself to more accurately plan and coordinate the complex product roadmap, which in turn improved the relationships with both our internal and external stakeholders.