About TeamUp Labs
TeamUp Labs, and the Example Mapping tool were created in the spring of 2017 in response to the following story. I was part of a tight knit and seasoned team working on contact centre routing technology, but we had a problem. It was the kind of problem that is quite annoying and bad, but you lack clarity on it until someone points it out. In our case learning Example Mapping was the disruptive event that made our problem obvious. The problem was that our story kickoffs were difficult to get engaged with, difficult to understand and really not very productive. A developer would look at a story in advance and write given-when-then statements that covered the acceptance criteria. During the kickoff people would face this wall of text and struggle to comprehend it. If you are struggling to comprehend something it's really difficult to reason about it, come up with questions and look for improvements. The process starts to look like rubber stamping one developer's view of the problem and solution. Of course everyone in the team would try to engage constructively, but even when changes were agreed upon we would struggle with the syntax. "Is this a when
or a then
?" is not something you want to hear when a group is trying to think together, although it has its uses at other times.
Example Mapping showed us a new way to approach kick-offs. The basics for me are 1) a blank slate so everyone is along for the ride. 2) We write rules in plain language e.g. "User can cancel a vote". 3) We use examples to illustrate each rule. These examples help us get to the bottom of a rule, for instance edge cases will help refine or drive out further rules. Example Mapping made a huge difference to our team, so after experimenting with it we now use it for all stories.
Example Mapping is usually taught using a selection of coloured sticky notes. Our team had people in three or four different locations so we had to come up with a way to make Example Mapping work remotely. For a while we used Google Sheets to capture the Example Mapping sessions. This worked okay, but people would often lose track of the current version of the template, or accidentally overwrite a template with a session. At the end of each session we would have to copy and paste the spreadsheet into Jira and spend ages reformatting it. I decided that a dedicated tool could fix these problems and offer extra benefits, so TeamUp Labs was born.
TeamUp Labs' Example Mapping tool* is used regularly in around ten countries by around 120 users, as of April 2018. Inside the application is a new feature voting tool where users can help decide what features should be added next. The main directions of development are collaboration and Example Mapping specific helpers. An example of the former is being able to create a team and work on an Example Map with realtime updates between users. An example of the latter is the ability to select rules and split them into a new Example Map when the user story gets too complex.
Over the last year we've not done much in the way of marketing and TeamUp Labs is only now starting to appear in search engine results. If you enjoy using the tool please help spread the word by Tweeting about it, or linking to it from your blogs. If you are working for a company that uses TeamUp Labs, please let us know that we can add your logo to this page.
TeamUp labs is run on NodeJS using the Express web framework. MySQL is used as a database. The front end is written in React and Redux. It is developed and hosted on Docker, which is awesome. For future collaboration features we plan to add Redis and Socket.IO to the mix.
* it should probably have a proper name - suggestions on a postcard please.