Today's article comes from the Josys product team. This article is about the makeup of the product team, the interworking of people from different countries, some of the challenges and how we address them to create a winning product!
Josys is the newest addition to RAKSUL's business lines. It is an integrated IT device and SaaS management cloud platform for companies to simplify and optimise their corporate IT tasks as they pertain to their employee lifecycle management. It includes functionalities such as the selection and procurement of IT devices, the maintenance and interplay of the IT user-identify ledger, IT device ledger and software application ledger. The launch of Josys in Japan was on September 1st, 2021.
For RAKSUL, this is the first endeavour where the product development team is predominantly based outside of Japan, in the RAKSUL's India entity called RAKSUL India Private Limited (RIPL). While existing teams in Raksul Printing, Hacobell, and Novasell businesses already cooperate with engineers in Vietnam and India, Josys is the first business unit where the product development team is almost entirely international.
Josys Organization Structure
The entire Josys unit currently consists of about 25 members comprising developers (server-side, front-end and QA automation engineers), business development members, sales interns, operations personnel, product manager, bilingual coordinators and the leadership. The organisation has a flat structure and highly interconnected with no impediments for information flow and knowledge exchange.
The sales and the business development team, including product manager are located in Tokyo, Japan, and so are UX designer and a key developer. The product development team, development contractors, the Chief Architect and the Data Analyst/Scientist are located in Raksul India. The leadership team is based in both Japan and India.
Most of the day-to-day communication across the global Josys team is over Slack (mostly in English with the help of inline translation apps) and regular Agile meetings. The weekly cooperation meeting is where all the teams in the Josys unit participate, and is facilitated by a live translator to ensure everyone's common understanding and participation.
The product development flow originates with a business development team's insights gleaned from various customer meetings and interactions in Japan. Internally, these insights will then take the form of hypotheses that require customer validation via mocks, POCs and working prototypes. The cross-functional team discussions will transform these requirements to epics and stories for the product development team to implement incrementally in short sprints (1-2 weeks long). Clarifications and refinements of requirements occur over the duration of the sprint in daily standups and other regular meetings on topics such as error handling, UI implementation, refactoring, etc. Once the feature is released at the end of the sprint, it is demo'd to the entire cross-functional team and the business development team will promote it with the customers. Questions, issues, improvements, bugs and further brush-ups are addressed by the product development team with the business development team playing the role of an effective conduit.
Constraints of a Global Team
While our unit has good cooperation between members in the Japan office and RIPL, there are some minor challenges we face. The first is the dependency resolution due to non-overlapping holidays in the two countries. Sometimes either of the teams can be on holiday while members of the other country are not. Therefore, when some task or query is dependent on a member, it might have to wait for its resolution. However every member in the team is very diligent and takes ownership in absence of any member.
The second challenge is the different time zones. Japan is 3.5 hours ahead of India, hence our "morning" standup meeting starts at 2 p.m. Japan time. We are all always considerate of others' time zone but there are times when a Raksul India member is required to start their day really early, or a Japan team member needs to respond to questions late at night.
Bridging the Language Gap
With the customer base for Josys being only in Japan today, all insights, feedback and requirements need to be gathered and translated to the common language, English, for the product development team to work on them. Customer meeting minutes, documents describing usage trends, issues encountered, insights and user experience design all need to be translated without too much lag. For this, we have bilingual coordinators who act as bridge professionals that facilitate all cross-language coordinations. They help with translation of documents, designs and also conduct real-time translations during meetings. The business background needs to be translated contextually as well as linguistically for the development team. This is where our bilingual team members, our product manager and an engineer in Japan excel and facilitate clear understanding of the business needs by the product development team. Lastly, we work very closely with our CTO in Japan who is also very fluent in english and helps us at every step.
Josys, Raksul's latest business unit and SaaS platform, is powered by a global team of spirited professionals across Japan and India, to bring digital transformation of corporate IT to businesses. Raksul is breaking new ground with this initiative to develop a product from across the globe to serve the Japan market, and every member of the team is displaying amazing adaptability and cooperation to handle the natural challenges of such an endeavour. The success of Josys as a product is an example of great coordination between people that transcends geographical boundaries.
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