#agendium, #data protection, #gdpr, #gdpr-tech, #tech, #technology
19 September 2018
Bartłomiej Rgacewicz
Article mage

Agendium x Redvike: A Lesson in Building GDPR-Tech in Real-time

If there’s one thing to love about working in technology, it’s the unpredictability: whether in the product, the nature of the client relationship, or just doing everything possible to hit deadlines — there’s always excitement. And it was clear from the outset: Agendium would be fascinating on all fronts.

Joining Forces to Create the Vision

Finland-based Agendium had been working in data protection for some time. So, GDPR presented a compelling growth opportunity.

It was time to expand throughout Europe and Ismo – Agendium CEO – had a clear understanding of the industry need: a product to help time-poor businesses deal with the looming specter of stringent new regulation in an efficient way.

While Agendium had a functioning version of the product they needed, it fell short on a number of fronts.

Firstly, it was built on old technology. So, the initial task would be to port the functionality across to VueJS (a task which would take a full two months of developer time). Then, Agendium needed new functionality to fulfill the market requirements; even if the precise feature set was unknown.

So, the mission was clear, but one question remained:

How does a modestly-sized team build out a full-featured data protection product to extremely tight deadlines when the shape of the final product is still largely undefined?

Ismo had spent a great deal of time selling his vision of a GDPR product to prospects across the continent. It was now up to him to deliver a product he’d described but had yet to specify. With many unknowns on the table – and limited resource – Ismo went in search of technical support.

When he contacted Redvike, he made his needs clear:

Input on everything from UX and design to technical implementation;
Propose new features and functionality in-line with emerging client needs;
Collaborate closely with in-depth video conferences on a daily basis;
Maintain direct communication between the two technical teams.

The asks were tall; but the outcome was one of the closest, most fulfilling working relationships Redvike has ever had the pleasure of being part of.

When you work as a technical agency, you can become the offshore heavy-lifters tasked with bringing requirements to life. As Agendium were so early in the development cycle while building on-the-fly, our collaboration centered on the product vision as much as the technical approach – a gratifying challenge at every level.

Positives (and a Challenge) of Real-time Iteration

In agile workflows, it’s common for product visions to evolve. However, the evolution tends to be shaped by a defined roadmap. In this context, much of the ideation happened in parallel with the build.

And yet, we managed to bring it all together.

Ismo was incredibly open to ideas at every juncture, and while we were pressed with the May 25th GDPR deadline, the unified team had confidence we could deliver as communication helped the project progress at speed.

Teams shared daily standups and planning sessions; Ismo continuously relayed client requirements as they materialized throughout his ongoing sales efforts. Plus, he requested an open line to the team so that the second any problem emerged, it was escalated – and he was on call to find a resolution.

However, what had started out as a simple GDPR-migration tool was quickly evolving into a fully-fledged data management solution: video dashboards with ‘how-to’ instructions, task managers for data handling – alongside further customer-specific requests – meant a constant flow of features requiring quick turnaround with minimal scope for actual feature definition. The system was also pulling GDPR information to support functionality so it could sort and flag details based on smart filtering functionality.

This was a highly sophisticated product operating in a potential minefield. So, our time-pressed approach relied on plenty of telephone conversations.

The positive: Ideas were stemming from strong sales indicating incredible demand for the product. Customers requested features on a near-daily basis, which the team turned around with minimal delay showing just how well we work together. We have become great friends as a result and shown working at such velocity is possible!

The challenge: We lacked an overarching product vision resulting in 2-hour planning conversations eating into developer time, while Ismo attempted to overcome limited clarity with hand-drawn designs to showcase features!

These were entirely unique challenges to face, but such a test created an unparalleled unity: there was a cohesive atmosphere with a successful outcome highlighting the strength of both teams.

We managed communication, engaged in planning, thrashed out feature descriptions and have built a product that customers love.

Scalability Conquers All

By focusing on a streamlined architecture, we built an easy-to-scale product so – despite the unpredictable feature requests – we had few troubles in adding them to the system. Using Vue.js, we ensured the platform size remained small so that pages loaded without delay.

Finally, by combining many components within a single application, we created a product which decreased the complexity for clients facing an exhaustive process overhaul (ask anyone who has had to conquer GDPR, and you may well be met by a level of indignation!).

We kicked off the project in January bringing the product to market just in time for GDPR; completing phase one of the Agendium-Redvike partnership in June. Illustrating just how intensive the process was, Ismo offered his team a break – a nod to their efforts – but there’s no doubt they will resume the data protection battle soon.

Parting Gifts

Before Agendium’s time off, Redvike received a surprise package reinforcing just how close the two teams had become (plus, showing how much time we had spent on the phone!).

During numerous conference calls, the audio had suffered due to a poor connection, an inappropriate microphone, or some other issue. As a show of gratitude, Ismo and his team sent Redvike a state-of-the-art headset designed for crystal-clear audio. A practical gift to receive from any client, and a beautiful reminder of the tight-knit relationship we formed over the six months.

It could have just as easily been six years given the ground we covered.

Ismo is now building his product roadmap. So, the long phone calls might be a thing of the past. But as Redvike hands over development to the Agendium team and given their client acquisition rate, we imagine the next iteration of product scaling can’t come soon enough.

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