Spook Friday! Building Beachhead App in one day.

Our very first Spook Friday came upon us last week; a day-a-month experiment we're doing to see if it's possible to take a product idea from paper to pixels in just 7 hours. It was a day of creativity, quick decision making and awesome team work! Here's what happened...


  1. 09:30am we began! We took to the shores of Brighton for inspiration and popped into JB's American Diner for a cappuccino & coke float-fuelled brainstorm.
  2. Carlos gave an interesting talk at our last event in London, all about the difficulties in managing feature backlogs. It got great discussion around the subject, lots of developers shared the same difficulties which spurred us on to finding a solution. With our market in place we decided to build a product to help manage feature backlogs, putting emphasis on prioritising features, speedy productivity and communication between Product Owners/Developers/Scrum Masters and development teams as a whole. 
  3. Take a look at Carlos' talk for a bit of background, if you missed it.
  4. We came up with a quick plan focussing on the purpose of the 'backlog buster' - who was it for? what kind of problems would it solve? and we sketched out a few user personas. 

    "Backlog Buster helps dev teams ship sh!t quicker!" 
    "It's a collaborative tool to help startup teams prioritise feature requests and work out WTF they should build next!"
    "Less shouting. More Shipping!"

    The primary users we had in mind were:

    User #1 - Derek a product owner, experienced with tech teams and the inefficiencies of pro-longed decision making. He is the middle man who gets frustrated with never ending client requests. He wants collaboration from the whole team, to create a good atmosphere where he can easily act as the facilitator. 

    User #2 - Phillip is a freelance developer who needs a tool to communicate between client requests and a to-do list. He's on the go, a versatile worker, picking up multiple projects in one go. He currently uses Google Docs and/or spreadsheets to keep track of what's on the pipeline but wants a tool to improve efficiency, workflow and communication so he doesn't have to stop-start all the time. 
  5.  By 11am it was back to the office to talk about what features we'd be including, with some serious sticky note action. (what we really needed was an app to communicate feature priorities and speed up the process!) Each of us made 5 notes on what we thought the app needed in terms of context, actions, features, discussions etc. It was tricky even coming up with 3, but we had some great ideas going around to let each stakeholder have their say in development processes.
  6. Through all the brainstorming we quickly came up with a name for the product ("Backlog buster" just weren't cutting it!) and so, Beachhead App was born.
  7. With our planning stages relatively complete, we stocked up on Relentless and bacon sarnies and our developers set to work with just 4 hours left to go.
  8. Laurence, our product designer and co-founder here at Spook Towers, focused on branding the product, quickly drawing up some great logos based around the military 'beachhead' theme, whilst Carlos and I dealt with marketing and generating some user feedback on what we were building.
  9. Carlos approached the BNM list - a mailing list of media folk based in Brighton, all keen on giving constructive criticism to anyone knocking on their email doors! We got some great debate around the management side of things. The app in question focuses on a scrum/agile process of development where the focus is on speed of production.
  10. Here's what the mailing list came back with:
  11. "Using an agile framework such as Scrum can eliminate the pain. The very least it can do is help you prioritise functionality for the next release." BNM subscriber

    "Lean, meet scrum, scrum, meet lean - nice to meet you lean, nice to meet you scrum, we're all agile after all." BNM subscriber

    "without someone (product owner) taking responsibility of prioritising the backlog you just end up with a massive, unordered todolist" BNM subscriber
  12. We put together a survey for Product Owners, UX designers/developers and freelancers to try get some customer feedback and had an awesome response. In just a few hours, 12 people responded to the survey which gave us ideas for what (and what not) features to include. If you have 2 mins, feel free to do the survey (just 5 questions)