Role: Senior Product Manager, Product Manager
Tools: Github, Zenhub, Google Analytics, Slides, Sheets
When I started at Ad Hoc, I worked on a project called Vets.gov with a goal of modernizing the core infrastructure for Veterans to apply for and manage their benefits.
We began by recreating the most important VA forms from each VA org using user centered design, industry leading tech and with modern development processes.
In November 2018, we relaunched Vets.gov as VA.gov and became the front door for Veterans to navigate the VA ecosystem. Now that we had established a core architecture and development pipeline for the new VA, we faced a new issue - unifying the different VA orgs under one digital property.
Different VA departments are responsible for managing different Veterans’ benefits. There’s healthcare, education, pension - each with separate leadership, budgets and development teams. As a result, teams build in isolation, producing a fragmented experience for Veterans to navigate for accessing their benefits.
How can we improve the way VA development teams work together so we can create higher quality digital services and get Veterans their benefits faster?
Build the tools and system for development teams from different consulting agencies to create VA applications together.
As we kicked off this effort, we needed to define who our users are. We started by looking at our own team - the crew that had been building Vets.gov over the past 2 years. The primary groups were developers, designers, and product managers. I worked with my design lead to conduct interviews across the different disciplines to understand their workflows and identify the resources they leveraged in their process.
We identified two necessary elements for onboarding and guiding teams through the process of launching new applications - Documentation and Support. I was put in charge of two product teams to drive the VA platform: one to produce the platform documentation and one to support new teams in launching apps on the platform.
To succeed in creating new VA.gov applications, teams need instructions for the tools and processes they’ll use in their workflow. We split the docs into separate sets, tailoring the information for each user group.
Digital Services Handbook - outlines the digital delivery pipeline that product managers use to navigate their team from first contact through deployment.
Client Application Documentation - guides developers through the development process covering everything from setting up their environment to running tests and deploying changes.
Design System - provides designers and content editors with the components and patterns available for creating user flows that help Veterans achieve their goals.
Building quality applications requires good process with the appropriate checks and balances. We instituted a development lifecycle to ensure that the disparate teams were producing quality apps and maintained a consistent experience.
Throughout the delivery lifecycle, the support team would provide assistance and perform critical functions like:
In the first 6 months of launching the VA Platform, we helped six teams from five different VA groups deployed new applications and features on Va.gov.
VA leadership saw promise in our initiative and decided to turn the Platform model into a 9 figure, 3 year contract. Ad Hoc put together a bid and as a part of that process, each company participates in a work challenge in front of a panel of judges to demonstrate their ability to perform the job. I was chosen to lead Ad Hoc’s cross functional demo team and I’m proud to say we won the VA Platform contract!
Working at Ad Hoc was an incredible experience. I learned so much from running multiple product teams across different verticals within the VA ecosystem. I helped create a whole new model of development in government with the VA platform and had the pleasure of working alongside some incredibly smart people. Beyond that, the outcomes of my work impact Veterans by enabling them to received the benefits they deserve. I treasure being able to contribute positively towards improving someone's life through technology and my experience at AdHoc is a perfect example of that coming to fruition.