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In this post, two of our senior developers Guilherme Caminha and André Ericson share their experience developing one of our up-and-coming tools, the Facebook bulk uploader, with Natalie Kim as a product owner from the digital marketing side. Here at Precis, our marketing and developing teams work together to create tools that can be used across digital marketing – the Facebook bulk-uploader is a great example of this.

The Facebook bulk-uploader tool comes under one of the projects we have here at Precis to increase marketing efficiency, allowing digital specialists to upload Facebook ads in bulk rather than piece by piece – drastically reducing the amount of time spent on these manual tasks. The way this tool was developed was more cross-functional than ever before and serves as a good example where a digital marketer without much coding knowledge can contribute to a tech project.

 ”When picking up a new tool to work on, the digital specialists of Precis are fundamental to its success. They are not only the users, but also the people who usually identify, and have the best knowledge of the problem to be solved.

 

How does tool development work at Precis?

 
Andre – Once the problem has been identified, we have our development team draft the UI and system architecture and we begin development. Once we have an MVP and test it with a subset of users who can validate the idea, we continue iterating until we reach a tool that is ready for larger adoption.”

Guilherme – Historically, we usually have at least two developers working on a given tool from the ground up. Usually, one of them takes more ownership of the development process. However, that doesn’t stop the other devs working on the tool from giving valuable input on the direction or decision making. These devs form a cross-functional team, which gives opportunities for them to work on areas they haven’t necessarily worked on before.

Let’s say a digital specialist faces a problem. How can they go about conceptualising a tool to solve that problem?

 
Guilherme – “Here at Precis, we’re putting efforts into training and education of our employees towards cloud tooling (on GCP) and how to develop solutions quickly on top of it. With that, there can be two types of tool development for a given digital specialist: either go hands-on and implement the first solution themselves or take a role of a product owner and partner with another specialist that can take the coding role.

After demonstrating the concept, we can prioritise the tool and include it in our tech team roadmap. Another benefit of unifying our tech stack and controlling training on top of it is that we can provide best practices, tools and templates that will help integrate the tool later on into our main apps and make it available for the whole company.”

How different is the Facebook bulk uploader development process?

 
Andre – ”The bulk uploader is a product that already had a limited proof of concept implemented and tested. This has given us confidence that this was an important problem to solve. Natalie, who has been involved in the idea of a bulk uploader since the beginning, knew how it should be addressed and what the users’ expectations were. She took responsibility for the product as a product owner. It is always great to have someone who is not involved in the actual development to give an unbiased opinion.”

Guilherme – For the bulk uploader, we had a more mature development model. Having someone dedicated to thinking about the tool’s direction and features was very helpful, as it allowed devs to focus on the product development itself when needed, while also helping us make high-level decisions. Also – albeit functionally similar to previous automation tools we’ve built – the bulk uploader was made in a different application and even a different cloud provider.

How’s the project been going so far and what’s been going well?

 
Andre – ”Having a knowledgeable product owner who was very invested in the project worked really well. We have also made some decisions that greatly simplified the UX requirements and UI implementation of the tool. This allowed us to speed up the first release while still being careful to leave room to be able to iterate those UX requirements if necessary.”

Guilherme – “We are currently passing the early stages of development where usage is exclusive to test users. So far, we have got very successful feedback and there is definitely some room to improve our software, ranging from user-experience related features to actual new features and internal business logic fixes. We’ll be iterating on the project for a few sprints to come and start a staged rollout for more users.”

Could you elaborate more on the cross-functional collaboration?

 
Guilherme – The Bulk Uploader is a Digital Marketing heavy tool, which requires a lot of knowledge on how Digital Marketing specialists work and what in their workflows can be optimised. As a developer, I can read the Facebook Marketing API and build an intricate tool on top of it, but that won’t guarantee its usefulness and it would potentially take a long time to start bringing value. Having the direct input of someone who worked with Facebook Marketing every day for so long made it possible to be very pragmatic in the initial feature set in the tool – with the aim of delivering value to the majority of users as soon as possible.

Is coding knowledge a must to be a good product owner? What makes a good product owner?

 
Guilherme – “It can be good to have, but not a must in my opinion. It can help to know the limits of what can be done in a given time span and therefore help prioritise features. A good product owner will make use of their knowledge (which can include coding for example) to better represent the product and ensure developer time will be spent on the most impactful features for the user.”

Next steps

 
Here at Precis, we have a whole team dedicated to improving our ways of working and developing new technology to help our clients. But they don’t work alone. Insights from our digital marketing teams on potential new applications help drive these initiatives and make these both useful and impactful.

To learn more about what it’s like to work at Precis check out our careers page or become involved by applying for one of our open positions!

 

Natalie Kim Senior Strategist, Stockholm