Re-platforming Drukwerkdeal website
In the first half of 2020, Cimpress asked for our help to validate the new website of Drukwerkdeal.nl. Both the backend and frontend of that website received a major upgrade. To minimize risks, both financially and organizationally, the new website had to be validated.
A CRO manager and data expert of Online Dialogue complemented the multidisciplinary team of Drukwerkdeal, consisting of the CMO, CTO, a CRO specialist, UX designer, data analyst, developers, customer service manager, online marketing manager and online marketers.
We would like to show you how the validation of the re-platforming of Drukwerkdeal went. To give you insight into our work process, Drukwerkdeal and the re-platforming project, we asked Christian Maass (CMO Printbrother Management) and Doede van Haperen (CTO Drukwerkdeal) a couple of questions.
How does Drukwerkdeal apply a data-driven approach?
“We don’t apply a data-driven approach, we apply a customer-driven approach. Data are just a means to verify customer insights. We make sure that we capture as many insights as possible. And we try to ensure that all employees are aware of our customer’s problems. For example, we integrate the various feedback forms that we use into a channel in our company’s Slack. This way it is very easy to get a bottom-up view of current challenges that customers are facing. From a technical point of view, it is crucial to have a maximally flexible tech stack that allows us to pivot. Of course, this also means that you need a streamlined process to make use of all the potential that technology is offering you.”
“Re-platforming as a project can be divided into three phases. Firstly, internal development with limited available timeframe, second, ramp-up and testing and, lastly, full availability and optimization. The approach that Christian describes fits the latter two phases. In the first phase, where we were building the new platform we only had data from the old situation to steer our design and feature priorities. So we took as many insights as we had from the old platform and applied that to our new way of thinking and working. Things did not always translate one on one but formed a firm basis to decide which steps to take before we had something worthwhile to start putting out there.”
How was the communication between different departments?
“We don’t differentiate between online and offline. We create end-to-end teams that focus on specific customer journeys. An end-to-end team is made-up of employees from different areas, like IT, marketing and whoever is necessary to ensure a proper and deployable sprint outcome.”
“We follow a very simple principle to organize ourselves: loosely coupled but highly aligned. We define just one big target, one goal for a period of six months. This major business goal gives us a strict guideline to formulate our OKR’s per team. On the goal side, we are highly aligned. Depending on the goals we are flexible to integrate team members from different areas on a case-by-case basis. We have several end-to-end teams, where each team is owning a certain customer domain. These principles ensure proper communication flow.”
“Based on the objectives and product-vision per increment we had boards tracking the overarching progress for all teams. So as long as you knew what the objectives were and which timelines were expected, you were able to interpret where all teams were and what exactly they were working on.”
What was the reason for choosing for a redesign / re-platforming?
“The reason is simple, we wanted to be more flexible and deliver faster.”
“We don’t believe you can successfully migrate towards a new tech stack incrementally. Therefore we went all-in and developed a completely new tech stack from scratch. The reason is simple, we wanted to be more flexible and deliver faster. If we want to launch an app with a single buy button on a watch, we are prepared. If we want to support voice search within your car, we are prepared. If we want to launch a new product from our sister companies in Europe, we can do that within minutes. We believe it is important to have an API first tech stack that allows us to pivot on user requirements and needs quickly while maintaining good readability of the source code.”
“The fewer skill-sets you need to have involved to scale up new ideas into the market, the more flexible you get as a company. We wanted to put marketing and supply chain management in control of all operational changes like adding pages, products and categories. This new platform allows us to shift more capacity on a daily basis from operations, where developers were involved in every step of operations and changes took too much time anyway, to future leverage, where developers can build new features and channels to scale and grow. And this pattern repeats itself every day. That enables a change from linear to exponential growth! On top of that, it opened all kinds of opportunities to differentiate on channels, mobility, global supply chain, and more.”
How did you proceed? What was the process?
“We gave the migration of our marketing channels a lot of attention before, during and after the migration to ensure an uninterrupted flow of traffic.”
“In the first step, we created a walking skeleton. We just connected the main APIs and systems with the goal of getting just one order through the envisioned tech stack. UX was not important at that stage, the skeleton should simply prove our tech stack and improve overall visibility. In the next step, we created a minimum viable product (MVP) for our main customer segment and the most relevant customer journeys. Of course, we gave the migration of our marketing channels a lot of attention before, during and after the migration to ensure an uninterrupted flow of traffic.”
“We started the project with a clear single slide that stated the project strategy. What do we want to achieve? How do we want to achieve that? And how is it linked to the business strategy? On top of that, we had project increments. We used these to draft a clear vision on the product and where exactly we wanted to be at the end of the increment. We made sure that the vision, strategy and timelines on the project were known to everyone. Being able to repeat the one-sentence version of the project strategy and every phase’s product vision helped all teams. This way all team members were able to decide on a daily and incremental basis, how to give their best and most useful performance.”
What made the collaboration with Online Dialogue successful?
“The collaboration with Online Dialogue was super flexible. We needed short term support and their team stepped up to the challenge in a fast and super flexible way.”
“The collaboration with Online Dialogue was super flexible. We needed short term support and their team stepped up to the challenge in a fast and super flexible way. We integrated OD team members in our teams as we do with any other employee. There was a complementary match of skills.”
“The daily report from Online Dialogue on the performance of the ramp-up data especially was very helpful. Partly because everyone understood that the reports were made on knowledgeable insights.”
What were the pitfalls and/or challenges during the project?
“Mainly, meeting the envisioned deadline. The deadline and quality were always fixed but we were flexible on scope. Naturally cutting some features out leads to interesting discussions with different stakeholders. But features don’t solve problems, everybody in the company agreed on that beforehand.”
“Agreeing and really committing are two different steps in the same process. It is hard to really grasp the fact that you have to forget what you had and only look at the measurable facts to prioritize those features that add value in the new stack. As it is in every tech-project, all kinds of things fail, but usually just because of resistance to change within team members😉!”
Has there been feedback from customers on the new design?
“The design changes we did are rather small, we focused on cleaning things up. So far we have a good response.”
“Apart from direct feedback, I think the numbers speak for itself. Our customer base clearly embraced the new platform without giving it much thought.”
What would you advise other organizations considering a redesign?
“Start with the customer, don’t optimize for the needs of internal stakeholders.”
“I fully agree with Christian on starting with the customer in mind. I really think that you should not invest too much in development that is just driven by internal stakeholders. On the other hand, you should actually invest a lot into optimizing processes for internal stakeholders, as long as these processes are adding value for customers. Exactly this was a very important question that led to the re-platforming project. How can we optimize technology to allow us to respond faster to the market?. But yes, again, the market is all that it is about, and the customers that make up the market.”
Drukwerkdeal is one of the major brands of Cimpress, with a presence in Belgium and The Netherlands. Drukwerkdeal delivers ‘customer happiness’ across a wide selection of printed materials for small and medium businesses.
From the Cimpress website: “Cimpress makes it easy and affordable for customers to express themselves in physical form – for their customers, organization or loved ones. Whether it’s apparel emblazoned with a company logo or an announcement celebrating a birth, Cimpress combines the individual personalization customers desire with the tangible impact of physical products.”
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