Product People Centralizes The Design System At Back Market
The Client: Back Market
Back Market is an online marketplace for refurbished technology with a mission to reduce electronic waste by encouraging people to rethink their technology consumption.
Back Market operates in 13 countries including many regions of Europe, Asia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Paris, France, Back Market has successfully raised over $1 billion in 6 funding rounds (the latest in 2022 from a Series E round).
The Mission: Interim Product Manager
We joined as Interim Product Managers on the Design System squad which, at that time, consisted of Product Designers and Web Engineers. The Product Manager role was vacant since the inception of the squad, over a year ago, and Back Market now deemed it necessary to bring someone on board to help manage transversal communications, realign priorities, define optimal processes and workflows, and bring about a product-centered lens onto the Design System’s vision and strategy.
💡 A design system is a set of standards to manage design at scale by reducing redundancy while creating a shared language and visual consistency across different pages and channels. Source.
Our Main Quest: Centralize The Design System
Explore and Conquer: Solving for the Client
After a number of productive discovery workshops and speaking to internal and external stakeholders, we identified the key problems hindering the Design System's success:
Lack of Evangelization - the lack of awareness of the Design System and its value proposition within the company was directly related to the lack of adoption of new developments, thereby resulting in degraded morale and motivation for the squad. We realized that evangelizing the Design System and its benefits would be critical to its success.
Ways of Working - the lack of clear objectives, vision, and a roadmap resulted in an ad-hoc way to prioritize and take up tasks which overwhelmed the team and resulted in an unclear direction for their efforts. Improving the squad's ways of working and establishing a clear direction for their efforts was imperative to achieving our mission's objectives.
Initiative 1 - Vision Definition
Problem: Lack of Evangelization
Through our initial observations, we identified that there was a need for evangelizing the Design System across the organization.
What has been done:
We started with a series of workshops with the squad to brainstorm and outline a vision statement that reflects our goals and principles. The result was a mission statement, derived from Back Market’s mission, that we were able to evangelize across the organization.
We then presented this vision statement within the Product, Design & Engineering organizations in order for people to be more aware of the Design System and its objectives.
Finally, we prepared a comprehensive survey, which built upon and followed up on a survey conducted the previous year, which aimed to gather feedback on the usage and satisfaction around the Design System.
We received a 23.3% increase in participation compared to the previous year. Out of those who participated, 89.2% mentioned that they better understood the Design System’s vision and mission.
💡 Revolve, our Design System, derives its values from Back Market’s mission. We intend to reduce rework and lack of consistency by centralizing components, assets, standards, and guidelines that are collectively built, maintained, and scaled by talented creators in the company. By doing so, Revolve acts as an expression of the Back Market brand.
Initiative 2 - Optimize Ways of Working
Kanban → Scrum, Contribution Model, Service Management Project, Automation
Problem: Sub-Optimal Ways of Working
Upon joining the squad, we observed and received feedback that the ways of working could be reimagined. The problems that were identified were:
Lack of a clear vision, mission, and roadmap, with its corresponding milestones (mentioned in the initiative above).
Lack of a prioritization framework that allowed the squad members to understand priorities.
Lack of synchronization between the Design System projects and other teams on Jira.
Lack of clearownership around elements of the Design System - who was responsible for implementation and maintenance?
What has been done:
As a first step to getting things in order, we performed a clean-up of the Jira backlog in which we went through over 500 tickets. We implemented a 5-level prioritization scale using severity, frequency, and urgency to better understand our priorities. This allowed us to have an overview of the work which we split into 2 main boards: Contributions (all tickets related to Design System contributions) and Internal Tasks (all tickets related to building the Design System).
Next, we implementedScrum which allowed us to define goals per sprint by splitting up the work into smaller chunks/steps, understand our velocity as a team (through story points), and start celebrating achievements as we now had visibility over the progress that was being made every sprint.
We set up the Design System Support Portal - a Service Management project on Jira to allow our users to seamlessly raise requests for the Design System to look at. Through our Support Hero rotation model (one engineer and one designer), we defined processes to assign members of the squad to address the various topics that were raised.
We implemented automation between Slack and Jira which have been instrumental in improving our efficiency by streamlining these processes and reducing the workload on our Support Heroes ensuring that tickets are created and responded to in a timely and consistent manner. The automations helped us save up to 14 hours per month of manual effort across our squad. The first automation uses Slack emojis as a trigger for creating tickets in Jira and mirroring threads between ticket comments. The second automation converts support tickets into backlog tickets if needed. The third automation creates 5 additional tickets aka ‘swim lanes’ and a Confluence page linked to a main Contribution Request ticket once this one has been moved from the ‘New’ to ‘To-Do’ status (i.e. it is approved and planned for implementation). The fourth automation creates sub-tasks under a main ticket for all of the components in the Design System when we need to tackle a task that implies repeated changes or updates to all of the Design System components.
Last but not least, we rolled out a new and improved contribution model. This was a huge step towards improving internal processes and efficiency as a team when it came to collaborating with all of the feature squads at Back Market. The goal was to reduce friction and improve how to contribute changes to the Design System.
Discovery Mini-Missions: Our Side Quests
As part of the Design System squad, building accessible experiences was one of the core values of our vision. With this in mind, we jumped right in to collaborate with an external agency to audit our platforms and identify the accessibility-related improvements on our interfaces.
Based on the results of the audit, we started to prioritize and prepare a backlog of the uncovered issues that would then be tackled by the different feature squads. In addition, we facilitated the set up of training on accessibility across the Product & Engineering organizations to allow for us to be inclusive in our design and development.
Mission Achievements: Delivered Outcomes
💡 Defined a clear and concise vision that we evangelized across the organization resulting in ~89% of survey participants mentioning that they were aware of the Design System and its goals.
💡 Cleaned up a backlog of over 500 tickets, implemented a 5-level prioritization scale, and shifted from Kanban to Scrum to better track velocity and progress.
💡 Implemented automation across Jira and Slack which freed up ~14 hours of manual effort and contributed directly to the ‘Autopilot’ objective of the company.
In the Client's Own Words
Space Crew of this Mission
Fractional Director of Product
Senior Product Management Consultant
Associate Product Management Consultant II
For Clients: When to Hire Us
You can hire us as an Interim/Freelance Product Manager or Product Owner It takes, on average, three to nine months to find the right Product Manager to hire as a full-time employee. In the meantime, someone needs to fill in the void: drive cross-functional initiatives, decide what is worth building, and help the development team deliver the best outcomes.
If you're looking for a great Product Manager / Product Owner to join your team ASAP, Product People is a good plug-and-play solution to bridge the gap.