Building product at Cecil 🌏

At Cecil, we're bound by the belief that open and transparent collaboration can change the world.

Since embarking on our mission to help teams restore nature, we have built in public, driven by a desire to share learnings on the largely unrepresented topic of 0 to 1 product building within climate-tech.

For us, investing in product is a number 1 priority. By chronicling every success and failure we face along the way, we hope to inspire other teams to join us in delivering solutions to our joint climate and nature crises. After reaching a milestone of 100 production releases last month, we thought it was time to introduce our process and share how we measure success as a product team.

100 releases, 4 continents, 1 team

Some clarifying variables about Cecil’s platform and team:

  • We are a product team building a web application with GoLang, ReactJS and AWS 🤖
  • We’re fully distributed across Australia, India, Estonia, Spain, Macedonia, the UK and the US 🌏
  • Our working experiences range from Planet, Atlassian and GoJek, to BCG Digital ventures 🏔
  • 100 production releases and counting! 🚀

The product lifecycle - our company's heartbeat

As a team, we constantly remind ourselves to never lose sight of the end-to-end product lifecycle. It is the heartbeat of our company and presents a unique opportunity for our team to collaborate at different points of our product process.

Everything starts with high quality inputs. From sales calls to existing customer conversations, we’re never short of market inputs and evidence to define what we build next for our inspiring group of customers.

Next, inputs are prioritised as foundational elements of our design cycle. Each cycle runs for 6 weeks, providing the structure for our team to validate problems that meet customer needs, or elegantly bail if the problem isn’t clear or interesting enough. The process ensures the changes we make to the product solve real, meaningful problems and keep us on the path towards our product vision. More on our design process in a future post.

A phase of product operations follows next. From outlining requirements through to the eventual production release, we continuously check in with our users and capture additional inputs that can be used to inform future design cycles.

The team working through early exploration and iterations of our process in Q1 2022

This process has been designed to enable shared responsibility across each stage of the product lifecycle. Beyond product operations, our Engineers are responsible for tracking and capturing insights from user engagements with our platform. Product Managers are incentivised to consistently increase the quality of inputs, compounding delivery efficiency and eventual value passed on to customers in the process.

Change a little, change a lot

As a team, we have agreed that productions releases should be seen as a leading indicator of product health. There is plenty to debate on this topic, but our shared view is as follows:

The more frequently we release, the smaller the release and therefore the lower the risk of the release.

This opinion has led us to track “release milestones”. An occasion often celebrated with ship emoji filled Slack posts that deliver moments of congratulatory pause for every team member involved.

Whilst there is endless documentation available on the pros of CI / CD, continuous deployment to production with an early stage product does present challenges.

However, with a clean slate to work with and the amazing tooling developed over the past 10 years, we remain convinced that shipping to production as much as possible is the way forward.

Since our soft launch last year, we’ve averaged 3 releases per week and only record major releases (excluding hot fixes). Most of these releases are FE and BE, with the occasional infra release.

Ultimately, our mantra to ship frequently has helped us align as a team on what success looks like and enabled the delivery of value to our customers, faster.

Curious to learn more?

We feel immensely grateful to collaborate with inspiring humans that share a vision of a nature-positive future. Check out our future posts where we’ll unpack some of the opportunities and challenges that this build process has created for our team, like how inputs from our customers led to the Cecil Natural Capital Library.

If you’re a product builder interested in helping teams restore nature, we would love to hear from you.

Check out our available roles here.

Stay up to date on our processes and learnings as a climate tech company by subscribing to our newsletter here.

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