Allovue's Playbook for Better UX

Allovue was founded in 2013 by a Baltimore City middle school teacher who saw a direct link between poor allocation of funding and poor student performance.

Allovue believes that effective resource allocation directly correlates with student success and its mission is to empower educators to strategically and equitably allocate resources in a way that best supports the needs of students.

Currently, Allovue works with districts in 15 US states to budget and manage over $20B in education spending; connecting education, finance and technology to meet the needs of education decision makers.

Looking to Streamline and Scale

Allovue’s Chief Product Officer, Jason Becker, and Director of Product Management, Maggie Lubberts, were looking to streamline the work of their development, customer success and sales teams. Allovue’s software platform, Balance, integrates seamlessly with districts’ existing accounting systems and other data systems to help educators budget, manage, and evaluate spending, so Jason and Maggie needed to ensure that there were no blockages that could slow down their teams.

The Allovue product team was struggling to get the right information both to developers and from the customer success teams, and the team was also finding it hard to keep track of all their feedback. So, when they started using ProdPad in May 2017, Jason and Maggie had four main problems they wanted to solve.

  1. Developers weren’t getting the right details and context of the UX and UI elements of tickets. This was slowing them down and wasting valuable development time – they were not empowered to work quickly with little to no context.
  2. Developers needed a scalable solution for collecting and keeping documents and artefacts linked to tickets from start to finish, the process they were using was working but they knew it would easily break and cause problems as their team grew.
  3. The customer sales and support teams didn’t feel like their issues were being heard, they couldn’t see the status of their feature and bug requests, and this was causing friction. There were also big issues with transparency, as the teams couldn’t see which solutions had been developed from their feedback.
  4. The product team needed validation of why they were working on particular features. Allovue needed a way to ensure that feedback was linked to issues during the ideation stage through to completion when working through their product management processes.

Allovue’s ProdPad Playbook

Jason and Maggie recently shared their ProdPad playbook with us. Allovue uses GitHub for all their development tasks. It integrates directly with ProdPad and this enables the product team to have full visibility on what’s coming and how tasks are moving through the workflow.

Allovue’s customer success team receive high volumes of customer feedback and representatives struggled to communicate how these pieces of feedback travelled through the development funnel.

They realised that the four problems they had would be solved if they could keep the customer voice present throughout the product management process. They could do this by linking customer feedback to their workflow and at the same time this would deliver transparency for the customer success team.

The integration of ProdPad into Allovue’s tech stack enabled Jason and Maggie (affectionately referred to internally as Mason) to take advantage of the “unsorted” tab in ProdPad. By creating ideas in ProdPad, Mason now have the ability to triage customer feedback at a larger scale while including the Customer Success reps in the comments section.

One of the main issues that Mason were looking to solve was ensuring that the development team had enough information to be able to pick up a ticket and be able to work on it straight away.

By creating ideas in ProdPad, Mason can now attach customer feedback, assign business value scores and create specs and user stories to tickets. This is all then automatically pushed to GitHub and links back to the original idea within ProdPad, ensuring developers have everything they need to get their work done autonomously.

Customer Success reps can now quickly and plainly see how their clients’ feedback is being used. Ideas may be taken straight to development, merged into a bigger piece of work, put on hold, or not to actioned.

This new transparency creates clearer and more informed interactions between the different teams and Allovue’s customers.

Says Jason:

“We now review the unsorted customer feedback once a week. Using ProdPad in this way means that we are sure that all customer feedback is taken into consideration, and we can be much more efficient in the way that we resolve any problems or progress new features. Now everything is linked, so it means nothing is overlooked.”

Closing the Loop

The integration of ProdPad into Allovue’s tech stack has had a hugely positive impact on the different teams within business, according to them, and has delivered the transparency, scalability, context and speed they were hoping it would. For example, where previously Mason would spend hours each week talking to customer success and the development team, explaining why feedback wouldn’t be addressed right away or why they were choosing to design one way and not another, now they can instead point their coworkers to ProdPad for transparent communication about the status of those issues.

Says Jason:

“It has allowed the sales and customer success teams to feel heard, as they can now see which new features are being developed from their feedback. And by attaching feedback to our Github issues automatically through the ProdPad integration we’ve been able to give our developers the context they wanted and narrow the time spent explaining customer desires as tickets are picked up for implementation.”

The teams are now much more confident in their ability to be effective and be sure that nothing is missed.

Another bonus is that roadmap management has become more straightforward. Maggie says:

“By building the roadmap in the same system that we track and respond to feedback and develop our product ideas we’re able to connect our roadmap cards directly to our customer’s desires like never before. The roadmap stays up to date without a lot of extra effort by nature of all of our Github issues being linked to ProdPad ideas. ”

Maggie says they were so excited to find ProdPad because it nearly perfectly matches the process Allovue was already using for idea development prior to its adoption, “but it filled in the blanks that other product management products seemed to skip over by connecting the ideas we were working on with the related customer feedback.” She adds: “As product people, if we’re truly developing products for our customers, their desires and pain points need to be front and center while ideating. ProdPad accomplishes this for us with ease.”

Customer Avatar

Maggie Lubberts, Director of Product Management @ Allovue

“ProdPad filled in the blanks that other product management products seemed to skip over by connecting the ideas we were working on with the related customer feedback.”