PODCAST #21. The Scrum Model: When Should Product Teams Use It?

Welcome to our podcast episode where we’re delighted to feature Falko Buttler, the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Accolade Inc.

Falko illuminates his unconventional and diverse background, revealing how it has sculpted his unique approach to product development.

We delve into his early entrepreneurial ventures, his encounters with both failure and success, and his proficiency in managing health tech products with aplomb. In addition, we discuss the vital aspect of employee management and the best ways teams can implement Scrum.

A Journey of Entrepreneurship From Freelance Agency to App Development

Mr. Falko Buttler begins by discussing how he started an agency in the early 2000s to connect tech talent with companies. He recognized the need for such a service while working for a company himself. Mr. Butler acknowledges the abundance of great talent available but highlights the challenges companies face in finding the right individuals, and freelancers struggle to find suitable projects.

He describes his agency as his first venture into building his own business, which he initially pursued as a side gig. While he managed to place a few professionals, the venture ultimately did not succeed. Nevertheless, he considers the experience valuable, as it taught him a great deal about running a company and adopting the mindset of a business owner rather than an employee. Despite the failure, he views this chapter as an exciting one.

Mr. Buttler then discusses the period around 2008, when Apple released the iPhone. At that time, he was contemplating his next entrepreneurial endeavor. Recognizing the potential of mobile platforms and wanting to explore new technologies and programming languages, he began tinkering with flip phones. However, he soon shifted his focus to the iPhone, seeing it as an excellent platform for building something innovative.

During this time, his wife was pregnant and monitoring her diet diligently by manually recording everything she ate. This inspired the idea of creating a mobile app to simplify the process. They named the app Calorie God, which became one of the earliest health and fitness apps in the App Store. Mr. Butler clarifies that his motivation for developing the app was not solely driven by monetary gain but rather by the desire to bring a product to the market, gain user feedback, and create a positive user experience.

To his surprise, Calorie God received a warm reception from early iPhone adopters, leading to viral growth without any marketing efforts. Users enthusiastically shared the app with their friends, doctors, and patients. Mr. Butler found the feedback from users particularly valuable and discovered that many were utilizing the app not just for weight loss but also for maintaining specific diets, including athletes, marathon runners, and bodybuilders. The users’ suggestions and input helped shape the app, leading to the development of new features.

One noteworthy feature was the app’s cloud-sourced food database, allowing users to submit new food items that were initially absent from the database. Mr. Butler’s wife oversaw the quality control process, and approved items were distributed to all users, effectively expanding the database and enhancing the app’s value. As the user base grew, Calorie God gained attention from the media, including press coverage in newspapers and even television appearances.

The success of Calorie God marked a significant turning point for Mr. Butler and his wife as small business owners. They experienced rapid growth and acclaim, which ultimately paved the way for their current endeavors. Mr. Butler emphasizes that without the success of Calorie God, he wouldn’t be where he is today. The app’s journey from a passion project to a viral sensation allowed them to achieve substantial success in a short period.

Bridging Experience through User-Centricity and Product Management in Health Tech

“Realize that not everything you do is going to be a success. Sometimes you’re rolling out a feature, and either your users don’t understand it, value it, or don’t need it.”

Falko Buttler – Senior Vice President Of Engineering, at Accolade Inc.

In Mr. Falko Buttler’s opinion, providing a great user experience is crucial for the success of any product or software. Whether it’s the user downloading an app or the buyer interacting with the software, ensuring a pleasant experience is paramount. Design plays a significant role in this, as Mr. Butler has learned from his experiences in venture-backed startups and mentoring early-stage companies. 

Having a dedicated product designer and focusing on user feedback and research goes a long way in creating an intuitive and impactful experience, regardless of whether the product is consumer-oriented or targeted towards enterprises, particularly in the healthcare industry.

When it comes to driving a product forward and ensuring its success, Mr. Butler emphasizes the importance of having a clear strategy and effectively communicating it across various functions like product, engineering, and marketing. Defining success metrics, such as customer acquisition or net promoter score (NPS), helps measure the impact of the product and the features being developed. 

Understanding user expectations and making adjustments based on feedback is crucial. Mr. Butler also recognizes that not every feature or initiative will be successful, and it is important to be open to trying new approaches and being willing to adapt and iterate based on results.

The Power of Diverse Roles and Its Impact on Product Interactions

“These different stages require different ways of communicating, interacting, and working together, and being able to have gone through all these changes is like learning.”

Falko Buttler – Senior Vice President Of Engineering, at Accolade Inc.

Mr. Falko Buttler shares his extensive experience in various stages of company growth, from the early stages with only a few team members to scaling up to accommodate a large workforce. He emphasizes the importance of adapting communication and collaboration methods based on each stage. Through these experiences, he has gained valuable insights and knowledge.

In terms of software development, Mr. Butler recognizes the significance of creating a pleasant user experience. He believes that design plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. Designing intuitive and user-friendly interfaces is essential for success.

Additionally, it is crucial to have a clear strategy and effectively communicate it across different departments, such as product, engineering, and marketing. Mr. Butler emphasizes the importance of alignment and establishing shared expectations to drive the company toward its goals.

Acknowledging that not every endeavor will be successful, Mr. Buttler encourages embracing failures as learning opportunities. It is important to be adaptable and responsive to user feedback and needs. This flexibility allows for iteration and improvement.

Lastly, Mr. Buttler acknowledges that each stage of company growth requires different approaches to communication, interaction, and teamwork. Navigating and learning from these changes is invaluable for personal and professional growth.

Optimizing Frameworks, Enhancing Structure, and Validating Technical Estimations

Mr. Falko Buttler expresses his perspective on the flexibility of the Scrum framework and its adaptability to different organizations and teams. He highlights that each organization has its own unique characteristics and requirements, necessitating adjustments to fit the specific context. For example, in a medical device company, regulatory processes and external approvals may impose constraints on the frequency of software releases.

Moreover, Mr. Buttler emphasizes that individual teams within an organization may have varying preferences and needs. Some teams may find in-person daily stand-up meetings effective, while others, especially those working remotely, may benefit from virtual meetings. The frequency of stand-ups and grooming sessions may also differ based on factors such as the product manager’s technical expertise and the team’s seniority.

As teams gain experience and become more familiar with the Scrum process, certain aspects of the framework can be streamlined or modified. Mr. Butler shares his own experience of initially guiding the team through Scrum and gradually transferring ownership of the process to the team members as they become proficient. Retrospectives and feedback sessions were conducted regularly to continually improve the process.

Furthermore, Mr. Buttler underscores the importance of having a technically inclined person on the team, such as a product manager with a deep understanding of the technology involved. This person plays a crucial role in effectively communicating and explaining technical aspects to ensure smooth collaboration within the team. He also emphasizes that cohesive teamwork and communication are paramount to achieving success.

Achieving Every PM’s Dream by Empowering Teams to Own the Process

“The PM and the Scrum Master actually need to be in close touch, so they actually need to communicate a lot.”

Falko Buttler – Senior Vice President Of Engineering, at Accolade Inc.

Mr. Falko Buttler emphasizes the importance of close communication between the product manager (PM) and the Scrum Master. He believes that when this communication is lacking, it can lead to misunderstandings and misalignment within the team. To address this, he advocates for frequent meetings and discussions, particularly during the retrospective process after each sprint.

During these retrospectives, Mr. Buttler actively encourages team members to share ideas for improvement. When engineers or team members propose alternative approaches or solutions, he supports their initiatives and suggests piloting those ideas to see their effectiveness. If successful, he suggests sharing these insights with other teams during team meetings, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and knowledge sharing.

In situations where the team is experiencing significant growth, Mr. Butler believes it can be beneficial to bring in external expertise. In his own experience, he recounts how his team, after doubling in size, invited a Scrum trainer from an external company. This training session included not only engineers but also product managers and designers, providing a diverse perspective on the Scrum process. He acknowledges the value of learning from someone who trains numerous companies and gaining insights into new ideas and practices.

Mr. Buttler concludes by highlighting the importance of periodically seeking external perspectives. While this may not be a regular practice, he believes inviting external experts to provide fresh insights and challenge existing norms is valuable. This allows the team to avoid becoming insular and encourages them to explore different approaches and methodologies.

Navigating Team Scaling: Insights from the Remote Work Era

According to Mr. Falko Buttler, prior to 2020, he had experience working with distributed teams, although they were co-located in different locations. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, his company was in the process of expanding to Vancouver, Canada. Due to the circumstances, they fully embraced remote work and hired team members from various locations, including Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the US, and Ukraine.

“What we’ve learned very quickly is that it’s actually easier when everyone is remote than if you have teams that are co-located.”

Falko Buttler – Senior Vice President Of Engineering, at Accolade Inc.

Surprisingly, Mr. Buttler found that working with fully remote teams was actually easier than working with co-located teams. While physical proximity facilitates communication, remote collaboration tools such as Zoom, online collaboration platforms, and specialized tools like GitHub and Jira enable effective communication and productivity. Mr. Butler even observed increased productivity compared to pre-COVID times, as remote work eliminated commuting and provided greater flexibility in reaching team members.

The nature of engineering work, which involves knowledge-based tasks and extensive written communication, lends itself well to remote collaboration. Mr. Butler admits that he previously held the belief that people needed to be physically together in a room for effective teamwork. However, his experience during the pandemic completely changed his perspective, as he witnessed the success of fully distributed teams and their ability to adapt to the challenges of remote work.

Defining and Exploring the Remarkable Aspects of the Wow Factor

According to Mr. Falko Buttler, their company aims to provide a “wow experience” for users, focusing on delivering the best possible experience throughout their healthcare journey. This customer-centric approach has been ingrained in the company’s culture since its inception. Their goal is not just to offer healthcare services but to ensure that users have an exceptional and phenomenal experience.

“We don’t just want to provide you with health care. We want you to really have an absolute phenomenal experience while you’re going through your healthcare journey.”

Falko Buttler – Senior Vice President Of Engineering, at Accolade Inc.

The company strives to change that perception in the healthcare industry, where people typically associate negative experiences with being sick or unwell. They aim to eliminate unfair treatment, reduce waiting times, and simplify the process for users. They want to provide a wide range of services, akin to having a personal concierge for all healthcare needs, without the exorbitant costs associated with such personalized attention.

“We want to provide a wow experience for users as well as all the employees at the organization.”

Falko Buttler – Senior Vice President Of Engineering, at Accolade Inc.

This commitment to the “wow experience” extends beyond primary care and mental health services. It encompasses aspects such as advocacy, where they assist users in finding the right care and providing expert medical opinions for severe diagnoses. Their focus on delivering exceptional experiences is not limited to patients or consumers alone. They also measure employee Net Promoter Score (NPS) to ensure a positive experience for everyone within the organization. Additionally, they aim to provide a “wow experience” for buyers, as Accolade operates in the enterprise business, where health plans or employers purchase their services for their employees.

Preparation for Smooth Transitions and Navigating the Acquisition Process

“Given that I’ve gone through multiple of these transitions and seen things that work and don’t work, I feel what’s important is that before you try to integrate products, fully understand both your existing product as well as the product and the company that was acquired, and see how they actually fit together.”

Falko Buttler – Senior Vice President Of Engineering, at Accolade Inc.

According to Mr. Falko Buttler, based on his experience with company acquisitions and product integrations, he believes it is crucial to thoroughly understand both the existing product and the acquired product, as well as the company behind it. Building trust between the teams is essential, allowing time for them to familiarize themselves with each other’s products, functionalities, and potential overlaps. It is important to deeply comprehend the use cases and explore how the integration can be optimized.

Mr. Butler cautions against rushing the integration process, which often leads to negative outcomes. Acquisitions should not be hurriedly pushed into the product to satisfy shareholders or customers. Instead, a thoughtful approach should be taken, allowing for an extended integration timeline. Trying to expedite the process without proper understanding and alignment between teams results in difficulties in maintenance, longer-than-expected timelines, and overall dissatisfaction among stakeholders.

In his company’s case, they followed a strategic approach during the first 12 months after the acquisition. They continued with their independent roadmap while fostering regular check-ins and interactions between the different teams. This enabled a deeper understanding of each other’s capabilities and products. Eventually, they successfully launched their first integrated solution in January, which was well-received. Despite the challenges and stress involved, the integration was deemed a success due to the trust, careful thought, and planning invested in the process.

Mr. Butler acknowledges that full integration is a long-term endeavor, but he emphasizes that a thoughtful and patient approach significantly increases the chances of success. Allowing teams the necessary time to understand each other, build trust, and plan integration steps carefully makes the overall outcome more likely to be positive.

The Power of Autonomy: Balancing Product Development Processes in Bigger and Smaller Companies

Mr. Falko Buttler believes that when integrating teams from different companies, it is important to recognize and appreciate their slightly different processes. Each team has developed its own processes independently, and understanding the reasons behind these variations can be enlightening. Mr. Butler suggests that there may be benefits in maintaining some of these differences, at least for a period of time, rather than forcefully imposing a single set of processes. 

The acquiring company may even learn valuable lessons from the company it acquired and choose to adopt certain practices from them. The acquiring company may have more technical depth due to its longer market presence, but the acquired company’s processes may have unique insights from its history. Mr. Butler emphasizes the importance of learning from each other and creating a combined set of processes that works well for the newly merged company.

In terms of product development, Mr. Buttler highlights the different approaches between his company, Plus, as a consumer brand, and Accolade, a more traditional enterprise company. He suggests that finding a balance between these two approaches is crucial. It’s not about favoring one over the other but rather selecting the most effective elements from each to create a process that suits the combined company’s needs. 

This process of marrying different approaches is an ongoing endeavor for their company, and Mr. Butler believes that this principle applies not only to healthcare but to any company merging with another.

Analyzing the Pace of Health Care and Factors Affecting Tech Adoption

According to Mr. Falko Buttler, who has been working in the industry since 2005, health care is generally slower to adopt new technology compared to other industries. This is partly due to the highly regulated nature of the field. Patient safety and privacy are paramount concerns that often come into conflict with the implementation of new technologies.

However, there has been a significant shift in the healthcare industry in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a crucial role in accelerating the adoption of certain technologies. For instance, video conferencing, which was not widely used before, has now become widely adopted for remote healthcare consultations.

Sometimes, a significant event like a pandemic acts as a forcing function to drive legislative changes and change people’s perceptions. In the case of healthcare, COVID-19 has helped people recognize the value and convenience of virtual care. Virtual care provides a solution for individuals living in rural areas with limited access to quality healthcare. It allows them to connect with experts in the field, regardless of their geographical location, in a short amount of time.

Spotting the Recipe for Success: Common Denominators of Thriving Companies

According to Mr. Falko Buttler’s opinion, he considers several key aspects when evaluating startups. Firstly, he looks at the leadership team and whether they possess deep knowledge and understanding of the specific field, including its challenges and opportunities. Additionally, having connections and knowledge of how to effectively sell the product or service to potential customers is crucial.

Moreover, he emphasizes the importance of great execution skills, especially in managing limited funds. It used to be relatively easy to raise a large amount of money based on a promising idea, but the real challenge lies in utilizing that capital to launch a product, achieve adoption, and avoid constantly relying on raising more funds.

He also stresses the significance of staying laser-focused on the customer and the product. Rather than attempting to build a full solution from the start, finding the minimum viable product (MVP) and iterating on it with clear goals in mind is crucial. This iterative approach allows for incremental improvements while conserving resources.

In conclusion

During our captivating podcast featuring Mr. Falko Buttler’s entrepreneurial journey and insights, we acquired invaluable wisdom specifically tailored to aspiring entrepreneurs, engineers, and product managers. Below are five valuable takeaways from our enlightening conversation:

  • Recognizing market needs: Understand the challenges companies and freelancers face in the tech industry.
  • Embracing failure and learning: Embrace failures as valuable learning opportunities and experiences about running a business and adopting a business owner mindset.
  • User-centric product development: A product’s success depends on its positive user experience, viral expansion, and user feedback-inspiring new features.
  • Importance of effective communication and strategy: Mr. Butler emphasizes the significance of clear communication, alignment, and a well-defined strategy across product, engineering, and marketing teams for driving product success
  • Adapting to change and continuous improvement: Be responsive to user feedback and adaptable to iterate and improve products and processes.








The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels.

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.

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PODCAST #23. Maximizing Opportunities in Product Management: What We Learned from a Director of Engineering

Welcome to the Care Minds podcast! Today, our guest is Adam Jubert, Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical. We’ll cover Adam’s career, explore product design and development, and discuss the role of AI in process optimization.

Now, here’s a thought to ponder for PMs – What if the secret to groundbreaking innovation lies in identifying the right company? Let’s explore this, shall we?

Navigating Career Growth: From a Software Developer to Director of Engineering

“Taking an active role in your own career progression is the most important thing.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

Mr. Adam said a proactive approach and a keen eye for new opportunities drove his career growth and progression. He emphasized the importance of having regular one-on-one meetings with his managers, during which they discussed his career goals and identified potential areas for growth. Through these conversations, he was able to take on challenging technical projects and expand his skills in project management.

As he evolved as a software engineer, Mr. Adam recognized the choice between pursuing an individual contributor track or transitioning into a management track. Opting for the latter, he began working cross-functionally and delving into project management. He actively sought opportunities to lead and demonstrated his capabilities in coordinating projects and collaborating with teams.

One key factor contributing to his growth was the feedback he received from his managers. During their one-on-one sessions, he not only sought constructive criticism but also asked his managers to identify the aspects of his work that they appreciated. This enabled him to receive recognition for his strengths and continue to build upon them.

Mr. Adam’s progression was gradual; he took small steps by managing projects that initially required one to two engineers. Over time, he gained experience handling multiple cross-functional projects simultaneously. He actively sought advice from his leadership, seeking guidance on improving his project management skills and effectively managing people.

Identifying Growth Opportunities in Early Career Choices

According to Mr. Adam, identifying companies that offer growth opportunities early on requires careful consideration during the interview process. While popular rankings and articles about top tech companies can provide a starting point, he emphasizes that many lesser-known companies can still provide a conducive environment for success.

It is essential to present yourself as a candidate and interview the company during interviews. Mr. Adam suggests asking questions about team culture and management style. One effective question he often asks managers is to describe a situation where they had to discipline or handle issues with an employee. Understanding the manager’s leadership approach makes it possible to assess if it aligns with personal preferences and career goals.

Moreover, Mr. Adam highlights the importance of gathering insights from current employees about the company culture and career progression. Asking about recent promotions and success stories within the organization can provide valuable information about growth opportunities. Exploring these cultural questions related to career progression helps in making an informed decision.

Regarding series D startups or later-stage startups, where organizational structures may be less defined, Mr. Adam suggests discussing career progression during the interview process. It is important to inquire about the frequency of promotions and how the company supports employee growth. Once in the role, maintaining open and honest communication with one’s direct manager is crucial. Clearly expressing career aspirations and goals and ensuring that expectations are aligned with the manager’s support can contribute to a successful career path within such organizations.

Mr. Adam acknowledges that navigating promotions can be challenging due to organizational structures, but having a supportive manager who advocates for employee growth is vital. Identifying such managers during the interview process and fostering a strong working relationship with them is key. By collaborating with managers, setting clear expectations, and regularly checking in, employees can enhance their chances of career advancement.

Streamlining Engineering Moves and Balancing Efficiency and Effectiveness in Multi-Sided Marketplaces

According to Mr. Adam, effectively managing a multi-sided marketplace like Journey Clinical involves understanding and acknowledging the diverse needs and perspectives of different user groups. He emphasizes the importance of tailoring the presentation of information to suit the specific requirements of each user segment. For example, doctors may prefer concise, scientifically formatted information, while patients would benefit from a user-friendly and organized experience.

In tackling problem statements within the marketplace, Mr. Adam suggests addressing the concerns of the respective user sets involved. However, it is also crucial to consider the potential ripple effects and impacts on other areas of the application. For instance, changes made in the patient portal should be consistent with and complement updates in the prescriber portal. This ensures a cohesive user experience across the entire marketplace.

Furthermore, Mr. Adam emphasizes aligning communication styles with users’ preferences. By considering not only what users are accustomed to seeing within the app but also what they generally prefer, a more engaging and effective user experience can be created.

Preparing for Product Success: Essential Steps Before Embarking on Component-Driven Development

Adam believes companies must take certain steps before diving into product development. While the instinct might be to start solving problems immediately, he advises against skipping the process of first digitizing and operationalizing the solution. By incorporating the solution into the product design engineering flow, valuable time can be saved, and important lessons can be learned.

“Being lean, being a startup, your goal is to make guesses, make hypotheses, run experiments, see if those experiences were true, see if the hypothesis was true, and then iterate on it.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

Being lean and agile is essential for startups, and their goal should be to make hypotheses, run experiments, validate those hypotheses, and iterate based on the results. Mr. Adam emphasizes the importance of operationalizing things, which involves using tools that facilitate the creation of prototypes or minimal viable products. These tools can range from simple ones like Google Sheets and Forms to more complex automation processes and scheduling software. By leveraging these tools, companies can quickly create hypotheses, test them, and iterate accordingly.

The advantage of operationalizing hypotheses before entering the full product design cycle is to avoid spending excessive time and effort on developing a product that may not align with user expectations. By validating hypotheses early on, companies can gather feedback and make informed decisions about the direction of their product development.

Balancing Speed and Quality and Navigating Pushback between Technical and Product Departments

“Having a culture on the team of having open conversations around tradeoffs is super important.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

According to Mr. Adam, one of the difficulties that technical and product departments in startups frequently face is striking a balance between speed and quality. The need for rapid progress often clashes with the desire for a polished and aesthetically pleasing product. In the startup environment, speed is crucial, and the focus is on delivering a functional solution rather than a perfect user experience.

Creating a culture of open discussions around trade-offs is vital to addressing this challenge. Mr. Adam emphasizes the importance of conversations involving engineering leadership, product managers, and other stakeholders. It is crucial to openly discuss the trade-offs between delivering a shiny, feature-rich product in a longer timeframe versus delivering a functional product quickly for testing and iteration.

In Mr. Adam’s experience, most product managers in startups prioritize functionality over aesthetics during the early stages. They opt for delivering a minimum viable product quickly and gathering user feedback before investing time and resources in refining the user experience. The decision-making process regarding trade-offs is typically non-emotional, focusing on what is best for the business and the users.

As a director of engineering, Mr. Adam aims to ensure the business’s success and the users’ satisfaction. He emphasizes that no matter which trade-off is chosen, his team can still work on interesting projects and contribute valuable code. The level of attention to product and design quality increases as the user base grows. However, in the early stages of startups, having a functional product is generally deemed more important than a flawless user interface.

Mr. Adam cites examples of successful startups that initially operated with simple tools like Google Sheets or manual email processes. These companies scaled their user base significantly before investing heavily in refining the user experience. This illustrates that perfection in UX or UI is not essential at the early stages of a startup.

Essential Solutions and Strategies for Fast-tracking Efficient Go-to-Market

“When researching third party tools, cost is also important, as well as their ability to integrate and provide a seamless user experience.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

According to Mr. Adam, there are several key factors to consider when selecting software solutions for different industries. In the healthcare sector, HIPAA compliance is a must-have requirement. Similarly, in finance, there may be specific regulations like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance to consider. Mr. Adam emphasizes that they can ensure HIPAA compliance if they build the software in-house. However, HIPAA compliance and cost become crucial when exploring third-party options.

During discussions about problem statements, Mr. Adam applies a cost-benefit analysis. He first considers whether existing companies offer solutions for the specific problem statement, estimating that approximately 80% of problems already have existing solutions. He examines the available companies and their solutions, evaluating factors such as their ability to address the problem statement, ease of integration, and the presence of APIs, which are essential for seamless integration with existing systems. Mr. Adam highlights the importance of integrating the third-party solution in a way that appears seamless to the user, avoiding a disjointed experience.

Furthermore, Mr. Adam considers the resources within his team, particularly focusing on product design and engineering. He evaluates the number of engineers available, the time required to build a custom solution, the scalability of the custom solution, and the need for additional features. If a company has sufficient engineers, building an in-house solution to keep everything internal may make sense. However, with limited engineering resources, integrating with third-party tools becomes a more viable option, allowing the engineers to focus on other tasks.

Mr. Adam acknowledges the tradeoffs between building in-house and buying third-party solutions. While it’s tempting to have most of the solution be internal intellectual property (IP), third-party tools’ practical considerations and advantages should not be overlooked. He suggests that companies carefully assess the benefits and drawbacks of each approach.

“Tools like Github Copilot and Chat GPT can save a ton of time and be useful for tasks like code autocomplete and writing unit tests.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

Shifting gears to AI technology, Mr. Adam shares his enthusiasm for tools like GitHub Copilot. This tool provides code autocomplete suggestions based on the user’s codebase and the vast amount of code available on GitHub. It significantly saves time and is particularly adept at suggesting proper conventions, which is crucial when using frameworks like Ruby on Rails.

Additionally, Mr. Adam mentions the usefulness of chatbot AI tools for writing unit tests. Unit testing and code quality are paramount to him and his team. Tools like Chat GPT enable developers to generate unit tests quickly by providing suggestions and reducing the time spent on manual test writing.

The Ideal Product Manager and Quality Traits Engineers Love to Work With

“Some of the product managers that I’ve really loved working with in the past are proactive and get a full sense of the stakeholders’ needs and problems beforehand.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

According to Mr. Adam, effective product managers are proactive and thoroughly understand stakeholders’ needs and problems before involving the engineering and design teams. He appreciates the use of comprehensive documentation, citing companies like Stripe as an example, where they prioritize documentation and even have documentation about their documentation. Mr. Adam believes writing things down and incorporating visuals when possible is essential for clarity and understanding.

“Making sure that the problem statements and potential solutions align with what already exists in the current context of the application.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

Moreover, Mr. Adam emphasizes the importance of considering the current context of the application being worked on. It is crucial to ensure that problem statements and potential solutions align with the existing framework. 

When wireframing and discussing the flow of data elements, he emphasizes the need to know where each data element originates. For example, if a user’s phone number is required to send them a text, it is necessary to consider what happens if the phone number is unavailable. Understanding the data sources and their interaction with different application parts is vital for maintaining a coherent and functional system.

Key Considerations for Enhancing Collaboration between Product Managers and Engineering Teams

“Having blameless postmortems when there are big issues and taking the focus off of who did the wrong thing onto what happened and how to improve it in the future.”

Adam Jubert – Director of Engineering at Journey Clinical

Effective product managers should communicate the problem statement to the engineering team and provide insights into the user’s journey. Sharing user feedback and recordings of user interviews can give engineers a sense of purpose and intrinsic motivation. Data-driven communication, such as highlighting the percentage of users experiencing a specific problem and expressing their frustration, resonates well with engineers who value empirical evidence.

Furthermore, Mr. Adam emphasizes creating a shared experience within a fully remote team. He suggests starting meetings with a few minutes of casual conversation to foster a sense of camaraderie. Writing high-quality code, including tests, conducting pull requests, and conducting code reviews, is essential for a high-performance engineering team.

As a manager, Mr. Adam believes in the significance of regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports to support their progress toward their goals. Additionally, he recognizes the value of occasional skip-level one-on-ones to maintain an understanding of the broader team dynamics. Encouraging a blameless culture is crucial when addressing bugs or issues. 

Mr. Adam promotes blameless postmortems to focus on process improvement rather than assigning individual blame. By referring to code issues as “our code” and conducting blameless postmortems, the team takes collective responsibility for their work and focuses on learning from mistakes.

Summing it Up…

The journey of Mr. Adam provides valuable insights for navigating career growth in the tech industry. Through his experiences and perspectives, we can distill the following major lessons:

  • Proactively seeking new opportunities and engaging in regular one-on-one meetings with managers serve as a platform to discuss career goals and identify growth areas.
  • As one’s career progresses, pursuing an individual contributor or management track demonstrates one’s capabilities. It also expands one’s skills beyond technical expertise.
  • Seeking feedback from managers helps identify areas for improvement while acknowledging strengths and leveraging them to build upon success. 
  • Making informed career choices and identifying growth opportunities early in one’s career requires careful consideration.
  • Balancing efficiency and effectiveness is very important, especially in startups. Also, prioritizing functionality over aesthetics in the early stages is key.








The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels.

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.

Article podcast YouTube

The Insider’s’ Guide to UI/UX Design & Trends for 2018

What trends will change the way we perceive mobile and web apps in 2018? Check out our predictions, tips, and tricks.

Who doesn’t like nicely designed things? Despite the fact that all people have different tastes and preferences, there are times when you can’t help but admire the sleekness or convenience of the product (or service) you’re using.

Considering the fact that life is moving at a faster pace these days than it used to for our parents and grandparents, user experience and user interface gain even more importance. Add to that competition on the market and the design might actually be the deciding factor for your users whether to download your app or use your competitor’s product.

What is UI/UX Design and What’s the Difference

Let’s start with defining the terms so everyone’s on the same page. For simplicity, let’s take dinner at a restaurant as an example.

  • Content. Basically, this is the data you have for your project – whether it’s video content or articles, or e-commerce products. These are all the ingredients that make up your product.
  • UI – User Interface. This is what the users see and this is what most people think of when they hear of design. In restaurant terms, it’s your ingredients of a perfect dish arranged on a plate so it looks good.
  • UX – User Experience. This is one of the most misunderstood, yet critical, element of a product’s design. User Experience designers research user behaviors, delve a bit into psychology, and ensure that the user’s interaction with the product would be convenient and pleasant. Think of a dining experience at a restaurant. Your food might look wonderful and the ingredients are fresh, but if your waiter was rude to you or you had to wait for an hour for your dessert, then chances are that you’re not going to come to that restaurant ever again.
What's the difference between UI and UX design?

Why Is UX Design Important

As we already mentioned, the user experience is a vital element in deciding whether your client will continue using your product or will start searching for an alternative, more convenient way.

If your user interface design is nice and clean, the users might come to admire it. However, if your product is just pretty to look at and is not user-friendly, you simply won’t have a lot of clients.

UI/UX Design as the Start of Project Development

If you are a new business (or if you have started a new business apart from your main one) and the budgets aren’t very high at the beginning, starting with the UI/UX design part as well as Technical Documentation is a good idea.

Timewise, designs and documentation don’t take months to create (unless you have a very complicated project, but even then it shouldn’t take months.)

As a result of investing in these two initial steps, you get a tech spec you can use to find developers for your project (we’ve got good ones, just sayin’) and you get prototypes and wireframes to present to your investors in case they want to click and see what your product does (before you even have a product). 

If you are considering presenting your product at events like WebSummit or Collision, then a prototype is a perfect solution for you in case you can’t invest a lot in actual development at the moment.

Trends to follow in UI/UX Designs for 2018

In case you’re considering ordering UI/UX web or mobile app design in 2018, here are a few trends to follow (or at least consider).

Content-focused experiences. Give your content enough room and don’t be scared of those white areas. Let it breathe so that your website visitors or mobile app users would actually get the information they came to you for.

Digital experiences, humanized. While Siri, Alexa, and other AIs are still gaining their more human behaviors, people are looking for humanized digital experiences already. Seek to simplify your processes on the user-side, so that navigating your app would be as easy as asking a friend for a favor.

Voice interfaces. Hello again, Siri, Alexa, and OK Google. With their SDKs available for developers, don’t neglect the ability to help your customers use your products when they can’t (or don’t feel like) type in the requests.

Augmented reality. One of the pioneers in this area was well-known Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm and users have found out the benefits of augmented reality. By now, there are a lot of examples of how AR can be implemented in various fields – from gaming to surgery procedures to translation (thanks, Google).

Fonts, colors, and personalization. Finally, seek ways to personalize your product for particular users. For example, it can be that for older people, your website would offer a slightly larger font or buttons.

The list doesn’t stop here, but for each industry, the combination will probably change. Above all, seek to simplify life for your users and help them get the desired results when they use your web product or mobile app. 

And yes, just in case, we have an in-house UI/UX designer and awesome web & mobile app developers at the APP Solutions, who can implement all those amazing features that you want to have in your product.

We are recognized as a top User Experience Design Company on DesignRush. 

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PODCAST #13. The Psychology of Product Management: Unlocking Human Insights

In this latest episode of CareMind’s podcast, we delve into the fascinating intersection of psychology and product management. We had the privilege of interviewing Shane Blackman, the Director of Growth at Noom, who brings a unique perspective to the field thanks to his Ph.D. in psychology and social policy. 

Shane’s background allows him to provide deeper insights into human relationships in product development and management. Join us as we uncover valuable tips and actionable advice that you can apply to your own career, and learn how understanding the human element can lead to more successful products.

From Psychology to Product Management: Shane Blackman’s Unique Journey

Shane’s path into product management began unexpectedly after getting his Ph.D. in 2014. A colleague from grad school introduced him to the world of user research at Priceline.com, where he eventually started running experiments on the website using his psychology background. Working with designers and developers, Shane found his passion for product management, despite not knowing much about it initially.

Every product manager has a unique story, emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all path into the field. Shane’s experience in investigating people’s perception of objectivity, beliefs, opinions, and decision-making within social groups aligns well with the day-to-day responsibilities of a product manager. By chance, during his time at Priceline.com, Shane transitioned from a product manager to the head of product analytics, leveraging his expertise in analytics.

The Importance of Growth Opportunities in Product Management

According to Shane, he began working on opaque hotel booking products, focusing on the front-end user experience. He ran experiments to improve the booking process and achieved success in this area. Shane attributes his accomplishments to his background in statistics and experiment methodology, which allowed him to understand the components of a good experiment and how to interpret the data.

I believe there’s a big opportunity for product managers to apply psychological concepts to their organizational practices, including recruitment, structure, feedback methods, leadership representation, and more.

Shane admits that by embracing opportunities and leveraging his expertise in his passionate area, he discovered the challenges and limitations of the A/B testing infrastructure. This piqued his interest in addressing the problem of determining what was actually good or bad when testing, and how much data was enough to make quick decisions. An opportunity arose to rebuild the core A/B testing infrastructure, which led to collaboration with Booking.com and learning from their advanced experimentation approach.

As more data-oriented opportunities emerged, Shane found his path eventually led to the role of Head of Product Analytics. In this position, he oversaw the A/B testing program, system, and a team of analysts generating insights from product data. He believes the core themes of his journey include curiosity, willingness to leverage strengths, and openness to new opportunities.

Shane emphasizes the importance of amplifying one’s own strengths within the organization and saying yes to opportunities, which allowed for diversified experiences and growth within the product management field. He admits that his focus on data analysis provided valuable insights for decision-making and overall success.

Is Data Necessary for Balancing Objectivity and Ambiguity in Product Management? 

Determining good data for a particular outcome involves following the scientific method, starting with a clear hypothesis and then designing experiments to test that hypothesis rigorously. 

Good data is data that helps you make a decision and understand whether your hypothesis is true or not.

Avoiding confirmation bias is crucial; be open-minded and willing to change your hypotheses based on the data. Collaboration with stakeholders such as engineers, designers, and data scientists is essential for collecting the right data and interpreting it accurately.

Having a clear and specific core hypothesis protects against inferential muddiness or noisiness that can occur when looking at a set of data. If results outside the core hypothesis emerge, consider discounting, replicating, or generalizing them in new situations.

The key to using data effectively is to establish protections, guardrails, and norms when examining data for the first time and deciding what actions to take based on that data. This approach ensures a more holistic understanding of the problem and better decision-making.

The Product Manager’s Role in Clarifying Hypotheses

It’s important to have a very clear hypothesis and to be clear about what you’re trying to learn from the data, and then to design your experiments, design your tests in a way that will give you the data that you need to make that decision.

Product managers, often seen as the CEOs of their products, are ultimately responsible for various aspects of the product, including setting hypotheses and driving experimentation processes. However, this responsibility doesn’t mean they should work alone. Collaboration with teammates in user research, design, and data science can help refine hypotheses and improve the overall approach.

One of the hardest things to do in product management is identifying the fundamental assumption in a product that must be tested.

To maximize the product’s success, product managers  must be open to iterating and learning as they go. Creating a culture of experimentation and learning within the team is also vital. Product managers should facilitate discussions, encourage team members to contribute ideas, and develop ways to test these ideas systematically and rigorously.

Understanding the user’s emotional journey and the psychology behind their experience can significantly improve product development. For instance, when asking for sensitive information from customers, product managers must ensure they can provide an emotional outlet that reassures users about the security and necessity of the information. Additionally, dividing the process into smaller, manageable steps, starting with the easiest, can help build user comfort and commitment.

During a period of rapid growth, product managers may also need to scale agile teams to handle increased workloads and maintain efficiency. By leveraging their skills and working closely with their teams, product managers can effectively navigate the challenges and opportunities that arise in product development.

How Can Product Managers Help Scale Agile Teams? 

Scaling a team at high velocity can be a challenging yet exciting time in one’s career. To ensure a successful transformation, you should have clear counterparts in engineering and design, and to empower these team leaders to make decisions independently. Also establishing strong communication and collaboration between team members can help temas grow.

Another thing is maintaining sprint retrospectives even under deadline pressure so that emerging issues can be timely spotted, ensuring that the team continues learning and adapting. Quarterly meetings, such as “persevere versus pivot” sessions, can help teams evaluate their performance, goals, and strategies, and decide whether to continue, pivot, or spin down a team.

The collective experience of team members is invaluable in making informed decisions about the direction and opportunities available to a team. In the context of a health-focused company like Noom, leveraging behavioral science can empower people to take control of their health and manage conditions like stress, anxiety, diabetes, and hypertension through weight management programs.

Managing Team Perspectives During Product Development

Shane’s research suggests that people are predisposed to attribute bias to others who disagree with them, even in subjective domains. This holds true in product management organizations as well. When presenting experiment results and interpreting data, it’s important to be aware of our own biases and how they might affect our reactions to conflicting hypotheses. To counteract this, organizations should cultivate a culture that encourages open discussion, acknowledges biases, and fosters an understanding of how biases can influence decision-making.

Final Thoughts

Integrating psychology and product management can lead to a deeper understanding of human behavior and collaboration, ultimately resulting in more effective and successful products. Key takeaways for product managers include:

  • Embracing growth opportunities and leveraging one’s strengths in areas of passion allows for diversified experiences and career growth within the product management field.
  • Good data is crucial for product managers to balance objectivity and ambiguity; collaboration with stakeholders ensures accurate data collection and interpretation.
  • Product managers must be open to iterating and learning, fostering a culture of experimentation and collaboration within their teams to maximize product success.
  • During periods of rapid growth, product managers should focus on clear communication, collaboration, and decision-making processes to effectively scale agile teams and manage challenges








The APP Solutions launched a podcast, CareMinds, where you can hear from respected experts in healthcare and Health Tech.

Who is a successful product manager in the healthcare domain? Which skills and qualities are crucial? How important is this role in moving a successful business to new achievements? Responsibilities and KPIs?

Please find out about all this and more in our podcast. Stay tuned for updates and subscribe to channels.

Listen to our podcast to get some useful tips on your next startup.

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