About the team
As news about Coronavirus (COVID-19) was echoing throughout the world, Ally, Danelle, Luuk and Paulo were preparing for their first, fully remote client intake. Staying true to our values, they came together more than ever to make sure we kept the digital innovation going even in these challenging times. Let’s meet our heroes! 🦸♂️🦸♀️
I’m Ally, UX Designer* based in Amsterdam. Originally from Australia, these days I’m keeping sane with the support of my colleagues and trying hard to figure out how to turn water into wine. [*92% Designer, 8% Dog Hair]
Hey, I’m Danelle, Principal Business Analyst in the US Atlanta office. Being a working mom is brand new for me. So I’m navigating this new challenge of juggling baby time and work projects. It’s a big help that I receive full support from my colleagues.
I’m Luuk, Project Manager living in Amsterdam, avoiding quarantine mental breakdown by going out for runs in Amsterdamse Bos and emptying my wine and beer stock.
Paulo here, Solution Architect originally from Brazil but living in The Netherlands for the past 3 years, helping our clients achieve their Digital Transformation. In my spare time, I like to compose music and play electric guitar.
Our first, 100% remote client intake
Last week, we conducted the intake for Vantage Bank Texas (Texas, US) 100% remotely. They are getting ready to start their Backbase-led digital banking project for their new SME portal. As planned, a combined team from our Amsterdam and Atlanta offices was supposed to fly to the US on Tuesday to do our intake engagement, but we found out that all flights from Europe were cancelled. Now what?
So, we had to be pragmatic and adapt to this new reality, quickly. We decided to continue with the intake as planned to save precious time. As we were getting closer to the day of our first engagement, news hit that people in the US were also requested to start working from home. Our kickoff call included 60+ people from different locations. It was challenging to say the least.
Trust. Communication. Planning.
Even though we are used to working remotely and having video conferences, until now, as a team we haven’t delivered an entire engagement without having prepared in-person. Before a project starts, the Backbase project team usually comes together at least once for team-building reasons and to properly align. This wasn’t possible this time. So, we focused on three very important things:
1) Trusting our teammates, 2) Open communication, 3) Planning each detail ahead
Normally an intake is a 2-day engagement where we assess the client's readiness for continuing with the rest of the project (i.e. inception, construction). We decided to change this to 3 days x 4 hours, each. To prepare, we had multiple (more than usual) check-ins with the core team and the extended team (i.e. CST, people in the US shadowing). We’re lucky that we all have lots of experience running these projects.
Intakes are a perfect opportunity for relationship-building with the client, but you can imagine this was more challenging remotely. So we figured we could share a bit more information about ourselves during kickoff. How? Well, each one of us presented a slide with personal photos and information about ourselves, just to break the ice. We made sure that whoever was talking had his camera turned on, and we used several online tools to encourage interaction with the client.
Rules and new rituals
We didn’t have time to set up new rituals, but we did agree on one thing: no funny stuff on Slack as someone might be presenting to the audience. We set up a Hangouts link that we used during breaks. Everyone would join the Hangout and freely talk about how things were going and how we could improve.
And to crack a joke here and there. 🤪
Relying on technology
Slack was our go-to channel for discussions and questions. But we introduced several new tools that helped us make things more interactive and interesting.
To name a few: Mentimeter for polls and quizzes; Jamboard for moodboards, idea boards and drawings; Funretro for interactive retros.
To avoid "boredome by Powerpoint" we really have to start thinking about how to use video, real-life demos and gamification. We also found that people are more open to sharing their thoughts via chat instead of video calls, so this is something we have to solve in the near future.
Next week we'll be starting the inception phase for a new client in Africa, and this brings a new challenge: how to engage the people on the other side of the camera in such a way that they’re comfortable making important decisions on the fly. Wish us good luck!
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