VeraFleet’s first sprint: the challenges and wins
By Fan Zhang from the VeraFleet team
The first design sprint for Team VeraFleet was over in a flash! Everything happened as if “we were in another world last week” was the first comment from the idea originator Nicolai Rehbein on the first working day after the sprint week. It was truly an amazing experience as the three of us could put away our daily work and focus on a digital initiative to truly make a difference to our customers. The VeraFleet team consists of Charlotte Bath (Materials Engineer from Loughborough, UK), Fan Zhang (Fleet-in-service surveyor from Singapore) and Nicolai Rehbein (software development engineer from Hamburg).
We had several pre-sprint meetings with maritime digitalization experts like Sven Edgren, Eskil Kjemperud, Nada Ahmed (who is also our fantastic facilitator!) and Rainer Hamann to understand the customer’s pain points and the existing projects available in the industry. After all the preparations, we had foreseen that the sprint is going to be smooth sailing, but life certainly refused to give us the victory without some form of struggle.
Verafleet sprint kick-off
Day 1 was long and tiring, both from our discussions and from jetlag. In the morning, we set the long-term goals and sprint questions and tried to write as many “how might we” questions as possible. Further discussion with our mentor Albrecht Grell in the afternoon gave us great enlightenment on a new potential customer and took us off course for a brief moment! We revisted long-term goals and sprint questions. Finally after some gruelling effort, the sprint map was completed and the scope of the sprint week was defined. We were so excited that we rewarded ourselves with a sumptuous meal of traditional German Schweinshaxe and beer!
Pivoting and refocusing
By the end of day 2, the team had a good understanding of the existing products available within and outside the organization. It was both shocking and relieving to discover that there is similar initiative within DNV GL targeting at the same group of customers, which means our product needs to be unique and more customer-centric. After all, digitalization is more about customer-centricity than anything else! We decided to approach our colleagues to learn about their initiative and understand the customer’s criteria from their perspective. The afternoon was the sketching time where the team moved around the room taking notes, writing down ideas and sketching individual ideas all over the places. By 5 pm the team was drained but satisfied that the most important part of the sprint is behind us!
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the VeraFleet team spent the next two days executing the project, comparing solutions, merging sketches, forming the storyboard, and creating our very first prototype (our baby!)
The final day approached and the team was both weary but excited to “meet the client” with our prototype. Customer interview was surprising good with additional inputs for us to further fine-tune VeraFleet. We laid out plans for the second sprint and we are feeling better than ever!
Was the design sprint easy? Hell, no. Charlotte and I felt that the days were dragging because so many roadblocks were met along the way. But was it satisfying to see that customer feels our prototype is useful in solving their pain point? You bet, and we are not stopping here. The next question is, how can we integrate VeraFleet with the data from Safety Insight to create a unique user story? Looking forward to our second sprint in Hamburg in December!