The quest for successful project management
During the first client meeting, we learned what HLTcorp viewed as pain points preventing them from scaling, as well as a general background on their other successful app NCLEX RN, a study prep app for nurses to pass their NCLEX-RN exam. Lakeview Labs worked under another agency and did not do any development. We did however, play a pivotal role in the growth of the startup, while managing the product and project.
The biggest concerns for the client was the huge amount of unfinished tasks and the unknown. They had received a large round of financing, had a fairly large staff, and had a seemingly relentless firehose of ‘issues’ that kept popping up. One of the first things noticed was a lack of a QA department, and no way to track bugs / crashes. In order to solve these issues we created a QA spreadsheet, which acted as a checklist for every screen in the app. This system increased the quality assurance team’s productivity at least ten-fold by reducing the total number of crashes, and giving the developers a step-by-step guide to reproduce the issues that would cause the bug or crash. We also aided the development team by instituting a bug tracking app called Crashlytics, which we now recommend for every single app we work on.
So much content
At the time, HLT had a complex system of Excel and Google Spreadsheets that they would then manually load into the app. This not only was a time waste, but it also did not provide an easy for the content team to make changes to their content, or to add new content without releasing a new version of the app. So, we had to create a happy medium between the engineering and content teams, to create an environment that allowed them to all work with minimal interruption to the standard flow. This resulted in untold time savings for over 10 team members, and also provided a better user experience for users since they would always be able to access fresh and clean content. Android, the new frontier
While HLT had a category crushing iOS app, their Android app was lightyears behind because the first version was made by a previous development team with minimal android experience. Also, their android lead was only with the company for one week prior to us, so he was just getting acclimated with what HLT actually did 😉
We had to make sure everything was going to transition smoothly between the two platforms during this critical time for the company, so we had to make sure all activity of the company was humming efficiently to help support the android push. In tandem with all of this, we helped recruit, interview, and hire another full-time android lead to help augment the workflow and meet critical deadlines. However, we believe that the most impressive accomplishment was the ‘app replicating’ script the android team was able to create, which allowed HLT to ‘copy’ the core the master app to then greatly speed up the development of additional android apps.
Cleaning out the Icebox
During the monthly app release planning meetings and sprint calls, we’d all take a look at a crazy icebox that had over 200 items in it. There were tons and tons of stories from a variety of different contractors, pm’s and HLT employees. Most of these feature requests were either no longer needed (for a myriad of reasons) or had already been completed. After some initial pushback, we took the lead and whittled down the user story list to about 50 things (from 200) helping bring transparency and clarity to the development team, executive team and board.
We were lucky enough to join HLT right as they were hitting their stride, so after about six months, they were able to get a sizeable investment round. As a result, we a led the entire technical team recruitment efforts, handling every aspect of the the hiring process from initial job post, technical interview, culture interview, offer, and onboarding. We’re happy to say that each hire is still with the company, after 2 years!
Finally, we helped HLT with their App Store ranking through ASO best practices optimizations. We even led the removal of a ‘copycat’ competitor stole all content of an important HLT app.