Nium is a global payments platform that enables businesses to send, spend, and receive money from around the world. In addition, Nium empowers companies to develop their own products that simplify cross-border payments. Nium currently operates in 40 countries with product and engineering teams in 11 countries.
The challenge – juggling competing demands and dependencies
Nium’s payment product suite was easy to use, but the underlying platform was anything but simple. Nium had to enable many payment use-cases and cater to many countries’ regulatory and partner requirements. They also had to constantly evolve to support the needs of growing customers.
“When we started to build more shared services to speed up product delivery, work could no longer be done by one team […] This made coordinating inter-team dependencies essential.-Rajesh Venkatesh, Chief Product Officer
- Increased workload across multiple areas of business and customers.
- The transition to service-oriented architecture made the code more flexible and scalable. It also required cross-team portfolio collaboration and dependencies.
- Nium operated in multiple countries. Thus, real-time communication, status updates, etc. were challenging and time-consuming.
- Using spreadsheets to solve the jigsaw puzzle was inefficient and error-prone.
As Nium’s business grew rapidly, so did their product backlogs. To keep up with the pace of business, the engineering teams had to juggle multiple products – both the current ones and the new ones. Additionally, as the market continued to evolve, the roadmap needed to be frequently adjusted.
Nium has a distributed team across multiple continents and countries. The visibility across products, teams, and locations was key to keep the product and business running.Rajesh Venkatesh, Chief Product Officer
There were countless meetings between teams and locations to plan projects. It was challenging to keep everyone informed, from engineering and product teams to cross-functional teams and stakeholders.
Nium needed a way to align across product and engineering teams, identify resource bottlenecks, address major dependencies before individual team execution, and enable visibility at all levels.
As things change faster and competition gets fiercer, what worked before with spreadsheets and meetings, no longer provided the same competitive edge. The payment landscape evolves quickly with unique needs in different markets. Product teams need to leverage existing product components to accelerate product velocity. Dependencies need to be proactively identified. Silos need to be broken down.
The solution – Dragonboat is the source of truth for product roadmaps and effective planning
At the portfolio collaboration level, Nium’s product leaders start with defining key strategic drivers, such as OKRs, themes, and areas in Dragonboat. This happens on a quarterly basis, connecting quarterly goals with longer term vision.
The product team and engineering leads convene monthly to review the portfolio, identify dependencies, and create a feasible roadmap for the coming months. Individual PMs use Dragonboat to manage their own product ideas on an ongoing basis.
The portfolio collaboration capability in Dragonboat allows Nium to assess strategic drivers dynamically. So they can be confident in investing towards the right mix of objectives and markets.
Nium uses Dragonboat for both in-quarter tuning (1-2 months out) and quarterly planning for the next quarter. They then check back weekly, and use Dragonboat as a source-of-truth, especially for top-priority initiatives.
Additionally, the Forecast module not only helps the team plan portfolio scenarios easily but also predicts resource gaps. Therefore, instead of delaying features, they can opt for hiring contractors to accelerate roadmap delivery.
Lastly, Dragonboat also enables non-engineering functions such as Marketing, BD, and Design to be a part of the overall workflow, ultimately bringing the whole process together.
Without the proper tool, planning and execution with so many different products can be challenging and time-consuming. Nium outgrew spreadsheets once they expanded. However, Dragonboat allows multiple perspectives for both planning and reporting, making communication simple and easy across Sales, Marketing, Product, Engineering, and Executive teams.
Why Dragonboat worked:
- Planning was easier with visualized changes, real-time allocation, highlighted dependencies, and forecasted resources.
- Nium could easily tie engineering efforts with business outcomes.
- Real-time allocation capability allowed smarter decisions across business-needs and market-opportunities.
- Data was pulled directly from the source (Jira) and automatically converted into updates and reports tailored to stakeholder-needs.
- Dragonboat provided a source-of-truth so everyone could see planning and availability without meetings.
“A PPM tool that is effective AND easy-to-use can really do wonders to a product organization.”
– Heema Hemant, Program Manager
The results – product, engineering, and cross-team portfolio collaboration leads to amazing product velocity
Dragonboat’s easy-to-use spreadsheet-like experience and gantt chart for visualization were easy for product management, PMO and engineering leads to adopt. Dragonboat allowed Nium to adapt to the fast-changing market and evolving business opportunities.
Dragonboat enabled Nium product managers to centralize team management to one platform. They could also share the Dragonboat dashboard with stakeholders, providing a source-of-truth on strategy and execution. What used to take 3-4 months, now only takes 2 weeks.
“Dragonboat enables us to collaboratively create and adjust our portfolio roadmap to achieve both our business goals AND product vision. It also ensures we have the resources to deliver them.
On top of that, we now have clear visibility of our execution. The status is always up to date. We can easily see our predicted schedule against our planned time. So we can make adjustments easily before it’s too late. “
– Heema Hemant, Technical Program Manager
Dragonboat is Nium’s tool of choice to seamlessly connect strategy with execution and deliver better products, faster.
“When we plan using Google Sheets it took a lot of time to plan the jigsaw puzzle between teams and services. Dragonboat makes this process easier and speed up our product decisions. It allows us to go from (launching) 2 products in 3 years, to 4 products in 18 months.”
Rajesh Venkatesh, Chief Product Officer
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