Teamwork in Action at DataXu: Campaign Manager Product Release


Our five core values are a big part of everything we do here at the ‘Xu. They are woven throughout all aspects of our products, our work and, most importantly, our teams. They are traits we look for in every prospective employee and represent a big piece of the DataXu employee value proposition. A shared sense of these values across all our teams is a big part of why people choose to stay XuKeepers, and it permeates the entire organization.

Sharing these values enables our teams to collaborate on big projects that cross a number of departments. This collaboration, born from our shared values, leads to wins for both DataXu and our customers, such as the recent release of DataXu’s new Campaign Manager user interface (UI). This release allows for our platform to better address the needs of our self-serve customers and advances our overarching goal of enabling customer success.

For our second “Day in the Life” Team series, we’re diving into the team behind Campaign Manager and the creative ways in which over 40 XuKeepers worked together to deliver an updated user experience for our customers. Meet (a small cross-collaborative sample) of the team:

Tal Baron, Product Manager on the Product Management Team

Nick Escallon, Senior Software Engineer on the UI Team

Cortney Frank, Manager on the Product Marketing & Industry Solutions Team

Tal Baron Nick Escallon Cortney Frank

Check out how DataXu’s values and teamwork brought this milestone to life:

At DataXu, we live by our five core values, one of which is Customer Obsession. Where did this need come from and how does this product release benefit our customers?

Baron: It all started with our customers and listening to their needs as marketers who, quite honestly, needed an easier way to buy media programmatically. With DataXu’s focus and ambition of delivering a world class user experience for our customers, we decided to make a sizeable investment to overhaul our UI. Our platform has many different capabilities and based on user feedback, and where users spend most of their time, we tackled the campaign management portion of our platform first.

Frank: DataXu is committed to our customers – we listened to our customers and delivered a new, modern, easy-to-use UI. We want to maximize business impact by enabling hands-to-keyboard users to spend less time with campaign setup and more time on planning, upper funnel strategy and initiatives.

Escallon: With Campaign Manager, DataXu is investing heavily in a more easily extendable UI platform. We are prioritizing our customers’ current needs while simultaneously improving our ability to deliver new functionality and enhancements as quickly as possible.

Collaboration is another of the Xu’s core values. What did you do to ensure you were utilizing the full strength of the team?

Baron: We’ve had several beta versions and released new functionality along the way. We have great relationships with our customers and are constantly making updates based on their feedback. It’s really fun to build a product alongside our customers because you know you are making something they will truly love. We also commissioned a usability study in the first quarter, conducted by an independent firm that specializes in user experience, to see how our new UI stacked up against the competition. While feedback had been positive from users throughout the beta, seeing how well we performed in the usability study was a huge point of validation for us.

Frank: The product team listened to both our customers and internal stakeholders throughout each iteration of the Campaign Manager UI. Customer Success Managers and Account Executives gathered self-serve user feedback while internal folks supplied helpful comments regarding functionality in each beta phase. It is satisfying to know that every piece of feedback, including my notes, were read by the product team. This is a truly user-friendly experience that is based on and built from user feedback. In fact, the 2017 Demand Side Platform Software Usability Report  proves that Campaign Manager is flexible, intuitive and easy to use based on a participant study.

Can you talk about what departments were involved in this product release?

Baron: The better question may be which department was not involved! A project of this size touched each department, from several Engineering teams; including front-end, back-end, and architecture, to Product, Marketing, Support, Customer Success Managers…the list goes on. All in all, I would guess around 40 people helped with this project!

Frank: This project was an exceptional cross-team collaboration; the marketing team worked closely with the product and sales teams and the product team worked with client services, engineers and, most importantly, our customers.

Escallon: I’m looking back and recalling when Campaign Manager was simply some drawings on a whiteboard. There were multiple design iterations, which got better and better as our Product, UX and Engineering teams worked together to deliver a significantly improved experience. Most importantly, we involved our customers throughout the entirety of the project, relying on their critical feedback to ensure we were steering the project in the right direction. Their involvement throughout our multiple UAT sessions and Beta periods was invaluable.

What are some creative ways that the 40+ team members collaborated to deliver for our customers?

Baron: With 40+ people involved, it’s always going to be somewhat of a challenge to keep everyone on the same page. Luckily, we have a great team with strong leadership across departments with open lines of communication at every level. Having everyone on the project “buy-in” and committed to its success makes a huge difference. I know I can trust each team member to “do their job” (as Bill Belichick would say), but just as important, be honest and challenge ideas or suggest new ways of working. The product benefits from this type of environment and so does our process as we constantly iterate on our ways of working.

It’s also important to be flexible, as circumstances are constantly evolving. The ability to quickly analyze a situation, gather information from team members, understand the tradeoffs and make an informed decision is always important. Communication is also always very important, especially with a project of this size.

Frank: There were many meetings, Skype group chats, shared documents, evolving slides and late nights involved in this product release; but excitement was always high, which kept everyone engaged and motivated. Together, we were a cross-functional group dedicated to improving the user experience for our customers. In the end, I think we’re all proud of the finished product.

Were there any learnings that you took from this project to become a better teammate?

Escallon: This project led to the inception of our engineering “War Rooms.” With a passionate and equally opinionated group of engineers, we needed to find a way to ensure that great ideas bubbled to the top without causing too much drag in our day-to-day velocity. A “War Room” for us is a time-bound effort to discuss any idea or improvement and an opportunity for individuals to challenge the status-quo. Many of our key engineering decisions and pivots have come out of these sessions, and we’ve found them to be a morale booster as they provide a platform for everyone’s voice to be heard.

This is an exciting time for DataXu, and an especially exciting time for our customers. As a company, we have continually strived to help our customers develop a simplified approach to address their increasingly complex business challenges, which they can then learn from, iterate, scale and repeat. With the release of the updated Campaign Manager UI, we have been able to create value for our customers by simplifying the execution of campaign setup and management, enabling them to focus their time and efforts towards more strategic initiatives and pursuits

– Manjula Kandasamy, Director, Platform Solutions at DataXu

Interested in learning more about how our teams work together? Reach out to People Strategy. You can also learn more about working here and apply to join an awesome DataXu team by visiting our careers page.

A Day in the Life of a XuKeeper: The UI Team