He Said, She Said: On Working Collaboratively

A short time ago, my fellow Revenue Engineer, Majda Anwar, and I started to work with one of our Solution Engineers, Brian Johnson, on a unique project for a client. Brian brings us the magic of JavaScript and HTML and CSS and a number of other things that are in the “I have no idea” category, except for the handful of HTML commands that I’ve learned over time.

A bit after that, we had the occasion to talk in person about working together. I thanked him for all his knowledge. To my surprise, he thanked us for our ability to pick up where he left off, learn the basics, and then clone what he’d done so he could move on to other projects.

After this little love-fest, I was telling one of our partners, who said, “That’s a blog post!” So here it is: my side and his side. Apologies for leaving Majda out of the conversation…she’s working on QA and final changes!

She Said: We’ve been working with an enterprise client on a form optimization project. In the midst of this, Majda and I said, “Um…these recommendations are Revenue Marketing™ best practices, but they’re possible, right?” So we went to Brian for guidance.

Brian has an unwavering belief that all things, even the ones that other people say are impossible, are possible. You just need to find a way. But it turned out what we were asking to do, with regard to dynamic forms and presenting different information based on the first field filled out, wasn’t that hard…it would just take time.

He Said: Majda came to me with a conceptual description of what was needed. She explained what would be the best solution in a perfect world and that was our starting point. We tried to find a solution that would scale and be easily replicated. We wanted to see how close to perfect we could get. I’d like to think we are really close.

She Said: While Majda explained to Brian what we needed, she also came to me and asked about user experience. I explained to her what I thought would be the best experience for the person filling out the form, and she conveyed that to Brian while they worked out the specifications.

From there, the idea became a reality. Some coding, followed by some training, and we were ready to start rolling this solution out. The real beauty in what Brian built for us was that it was repeatable, even by us non-technical types (or, I should say, especially by me, as Majda has picked up the coding far more quickly than I have). We were able to take what we’d learned about the code, make changes based on particular requirements, and repurpose the code for the other forms we needed to create. Now we just needed Brian to help us with some limited parts that were unique to each P&L that fell outside the functionality of the original code. By enabling us, Brian not only alleviated his workload, it allowed us to create the documentation that would go with the forms themselves.

Brian walked Majda through the whole process and the coding, explaining the concepts and components. This gave Majda the ability to understand how to expand the solution and customize it to meet new requirements. Because I needed to be able to execute the same code, Majda then walked me through it. As she did, I documented each step. There’s no better way to make sure you capture EVERYTHING in the documentation than having someone else replicate the process while you take notes. That way, you’re really forced to go step-by-step and nothing gets left out. You can update the documentation with screenshots later, but the basic concepts need to be there.

He Said: When I found out Majda and Emily had already done the bulk of the solution documentation, I was surprised and thankful! One less thing for me to do, and that let me work on other tasks and projects, including refining our solution. But more than just alleviating my workload, this was great because we now had a resource we could use anywhere that required a similar solution. This helped us convey to our teammates what we had created and why, and made them not only aware of the solution, but enabled them to replicate it, as well.

The solution brought us together. We all had a role in implementation, but it was more than that. Each member of the team was constantly finding ways to maximize his/her contribution to the project. All of us working towards a common goal bonded the team and presented the opportunity to share additional expertise and ideas. Collectively, we became better prepared to address client concerns and new requests and understood the impact they would have.

She Said: I know it sounds like we’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid, but it really has been fun, even when busy, completing this project and exchanging ideas. The best thing about working together is that we’ve become a more efficient team. We’ve all learned a ton, we’ve laughed a lot even when we’re up til all hours doing final testing and QA, and we’re still enjoying the teamwork. As Brian always says, “That was fun! What’s next?”

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