How the Joom product team works

Here at Joom, we’ve gone through different stages in the life of a product team. We tried all the options and found one that maybe isn’t ideal, but definitely works. 

Now the entire Joom product team is divided into three focus areas:

  • core — responsible for customer satisfaction;

  • growth — responsible for growth and development;

  • new discovery — responsible for ambitious experiments.

We separate all projects into these areas, focusing on the metrics according to which the project grows. Each product manager focuses on these metrics. 

How we set goals

We live and plan according to OKR system (Objective and Key Results: Objectives — where we want to get to, Key Results — how we could understand whether we got where we wanted or not). This gives us complete discretion and the ability to influence the company’s business performance directly. 

We define what the team won’t do. OKR help teams to focus and discard what doesn’t align with company goals.

We synchronise our plans. OKR help us move towards a goal effectively when a lot of human resources is required to achieve it (moreover, all the coolest things are born from these goals).

We make the work transparent. Anyone at any time can see what a certain team is doing and how it fits in with the plans of the company in general.

We structurize our plans. The product team members determine the timing, dependencies and think through the details themselves.

Compensation does not depend on achieving goals, unlike work done according to KPI. KPIs are reasonable if only one team affects the selected metric (for example, time to response in a support team). The product team does not have these metrics, so compensation has no connection with feature’s profitability. Product team members can carry out the most daring experiments and achieve ambitious goals.

Product team members in Joom choose a goal, prove it, and achieve it. We study all final business metrics of the company, not small metrics, and solve high-level tasks.

Planning includes three steps: 

  • formulating the company’s goals for the year,

  • breaking goals down into quarters,

  • splitting goals between teams, 

Then the team planning process begins. Teams formulate projects, discuss them with other teams, and form cross-functional teams. When all plans are ready, the final version of the company’s OKR appears.

How we allocate resources and form teams

At Joom, there is no rigid binding of workers to areas of work. Instead of this, every quarter, we allocate resources to teams:

  • each product team member determines how many resources he/she needs;

  • each lead defines their team’s capabilities;

  • we meet and agree on the final balance.

Product managers tell the entire product development team about their plans for the next quarter, what projects they want to complete and how many resources they need. Each member of the development team can “sign up” for a particular project. 

This is how we form cross-functional teams according to the focus areas. In fact, they are quite stable from quarter to quarter, but the system allows us to reallocate resources when necessary, and people change activities when they want it.

As a result, we get an independent team that needs only to be directed, rather than controlled. This means that product managers have a lot of time left over for product work.

All this provides us with a flat structure free from bureaucracy, where no superfluous bosses interfere with the work. 

How we synchronize teamwork

We plan teamwork in two steps: first, we prioritize areas in order to focus on each one, then prioritize within areas, comparing the effect on key metrics.

This makes planning faster because each product team member is focused on their own team’s projects. To achieve more flexibility, we’ve started using ‘matrix’ sprint planning:

  1. first, the cross-functional team plans the tasks for the sprint;

  2. then the functional team is synchronized and, if necessary, adjusts the load, redistributing some tasks.

Thus, all process participants are involved as much as possible in the action, and product team members and leads can always agree and strengthen an important project. 

Working with experiments

Here at Joom, we love numbers. No new functionality is released without testing. We use a data-driven approach — all decisions are made based on experimental and research data.

We have our own platform for experiments, which is completely responsible for the distribution of users by groups, validation of metrics, and much more. We always run about 70 experiments at the same time, our traffic allows it. Each experiment is tagged with the team that launches it and the stages of the custom funnel it affects. This allows us to make sure that we do not run, for example, 15 experiments in the basket at the same time.

Our platform has automated checks that follow major potential problems and inform the author if the target metric does not work as expected or if his experiment overlaps with something else to a great extent.

Everything is customizable in the application, so it may look different for different users. This allows us to run experiments very quickly and without development, and also makes it possible to rely not on expert opinion or someone’s idea of beauty, but to use a data-driven approach.

What we look for in job interviews

As experience shows, there is a maximum of ten percent experiments that are successful the first time, and one tenth of those are successful despite no-one planning for such an eventuality. Therefore, in job interviews, we pay attention to more than just experience and skills. It is important for us that a person burns with his ideas and is ready to overcome any obstacles in order to realize them. And this does not necessarily apply only to work, if you are inspired by your hobby, then you can also be inspired by your work.

Our other principles

Joom does not limit the work areas of product team members. They can solve related problems and try themselves in everything within the company. This provides almost limitless growth opportunities. 

Product team members have a variety of tasks, we work on three platforms (Android, IOS, web) and in close connection with ML-teams. Product team members can choose to do whatever they want manually, or consult with professionals (UX researchers, analysts, etc.).

All Joom product team members are focused on goals and objectives, not narrow parts of user scenarios.

The company offers flexible processes that constantly adapt to reality, and this can be easily influenced. We take the approaches and methodologies that are relevant to us, and this applies to everything and everyone, from the projects of company leaders to the separation of development teams.