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About building Confinus: the ultimate food industry empowerment platform 🤘💪🏾
Product Development at Confinus

How did food distribution operations industry work before Confinus? They were difficult times and we don’t like to talk about it anymore, it’s a new era now!

You may also be wondering how did an effective, pragmatic yet accessible product like Confinus come together. Well, on that point we can give you a peek inside our product development process.

The team

The product team behind Confinus may be small and remote (3 timezones at the moment) but doesn’t lack any of the skills, energy and chemistry needed to kick-off a successful project.

The team size varies over time, however it generally includes at least one service designer (also responsible for UX), a UI designer, a project manager and a team of developers.

The team is conceptually split into the product Discovery team, which is responsible for the what and why, i.e. understanding the Confinus end users, their pain points and needs, the possible feature set and market opporunities, the user journeys in the Confinus product, and feasibility of features.
The engineering or Delivery team are responsible for the how, i.e. designing technical solutions, and engineering and maintaining them. The team responsibilities do however sometimes cross over, share ideas and overlap.

To work effectively and productively the team totally embraces the lean, agile start-up philosophy so indispensable especially to a remote and small crew.

The process

It all starts with the CEO, James, sharing ideas and features to the team. Their anatomy, feasibility and priority get discussed with the Discovery Team via conference calls or, asynchronously, via dedicated Slack channels.

During this time further research is then carried out by the service designers and pain point and opportunities are analysed. Initial feedback is gathered from target segment users and fed back to the Confinus team. Google Suite is the main-stay here, utilising Sheets, Docs and forms to gather, analyse and store the information.

Once the new feature's reason-to-be, strategic profile and indispensable specifics are pin-pointed and fleshed out, the relay passes onto the Design Team who gears up their UX and UI know-how to materialize screens and tangible user flows.

For this step, Invision is the go-to tool the team uses to share their work and gather feedback from potential end users, the exec team, the Discovery and Delivery teams respectively. When needed rough prototypes can be built in Invision, or embedded directly into the core Confinus application as ‘fakes’ using anima to convert Sketch files to HTML.

It’s a delicate moment, when everyone’s expectations; be them technical, business related or usability linked must be evaluated and the result be a balanced, solid feature.

Only once that magic point of steadiness is reached can the team really proceed.

The Delivery Team finishes defining the most suitable product solutions and puts together comprehensive spec documents and user stories that will become the source of truth to refer to during the development phase and the QA, testing and debugging phases later on.

The Design Team meanwhile produces pixel-perfect design specs in Sketch and uploads them Zeplin.io for consumption by the Delivery team.

The Zeplin UI specs and technical specs are double checked (well, actually triple and quadruple checked… it’s pretty draining really!) until they are irrefutable.

Now it’s the turn of the Delivery team to follow the guidelines, all the documentation produced so far and… well code it all up!

A simple, practical yet constructive Kanban dev process guides the Delivery Team workflow while code is reviewed and discussed on Github pull requests.

Github also collects together valuable wiki pages and Github Issues help the team to keep track of bugs and desirable future improvements.

Conclusion

While not perfect, this workflow has been tested over many months. It’s efficient, effective and has helped a team of professionals scattered across three countries, two continents and several time zones apart to work together, build upon each others’ outputs and put together some really good, sturdy results.

This, if you were wondering, is the core of Confinus building.