Catherine Hicks
User Experience and Product Design Professional

PayPal

PayPal is a leading technology platform company that enables digital and mobile payments on behalf of consumers and merchants worldwide.

Role & Project Summary

  • Enhancing Offshore design and onsite development communication and process

  • Implementing better process for off shore and onsite communication
  • While working at Paypal, there were massive issues with the communication between the distributed team - where developers were stateside and the design team was over in India.
  • The team was churning through hours at 200% and was very overworked and overwhelmed because no one was here stateside managing team expectation.
  • A process needed to be put in place where the teams were communicating effectively and not being overworked

Project Constraints

  • Both the off shore and the on site teams effectively communicating and not being overworked
  • A team that communicates better works together better and is more productive. Getting a streamlined process in place that sets realistic expectations on all ends helps make that a reality
  • The design process was broken due to lack of communication between the onsite and offshore teams.
  • The first thing I did was work with the design team in India to understand their capacity by setting up daily standups/check-ins. This allowed me to not only effectively communicate status in our onsite standups the next day but allowed me to understand their capacity.
  • Then the next thing I worked on is communicating that capacity with the team - this came from starting with the concept that the team could only work on one feature and a certain number of enhancements per sprint.
  • This capacity was a bit too much so after a couple sprints we took it down to basically one feature per sprint and work as they could on top of that
  • There was a breakdown in communication due to cultural differences and no one speaking for the offshore team onsite when things such as sprint planning were going on.
  • We needed to build into our onsite processes method setting expectations that allowed the offshore team to not be overburdened with work beyond their burn rate
  • In addition the offshore team needed to be held accountable to deadlines and workloads and to take ownership of their own process while still communicating what was going on with their on site counterparts

Summary

  • We believe a streamlined design process will increase work efficiency and team happiness
  • The biggest breakdown in communication was that the offshore team did not say no to the on-shore team, which was really a cultural difference I have also noticed in other teams since working on this project.
  • Someone had to reign back in the expectation of the on site team as to not overwork the offshore team.
  • Since no one was saying no on the off shore team and no one was monitoring the work onsite for them, this became the big problem I was tasked to solve

Project Goals:

1. Getting hours within 95-105% of allotted budget for offshore team

2. A more streamlined process in terms of expectations for both teams

  • The team was highly receptive to my attempts to get them on track. My manager was quite thankful he could take that piece off of his plate, and both the offshore and onsite team were glad to be able to work together in a better manner.
  • I became the voice of the offshore team in sprint planning sessions, speaking to their capacity and making sure they werent overworked.
  • I also spent time everyday on the phone with them doing a daily standup at the end of my day to be prepared with their status for the onsite daily standup the next day
  • I also chipped in as a designer where I could when I felt the work needed to be done and they had no capacity
  • The two biggest challenges in getting the design team on track were there lack of consistent communication on capacity, or any communication at all really, with the greater onsite team, and the onsite team communicating with them on feedback in a timely manner
  • Setting regular cadences with the design, development and product owners that allowed daily and weekly communication of status and capacity
  • Getting this team in alignment was extremely challenging, and extremely rewarding work. I am glad to get to experience the producer/project manager side of the role and realize I am capable of doing that kind of work as well