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Engineering Prakya: Bringing to life the true power of visibility

August 18, 2021

 


What’s an engineer’s dream?  To use technology to solve practical problems. Greater the challenge, greater the satisfaction.


The origin of the ONE platform dream!

I heard Raghu’s vision for Prakya for the first time in late 2018. At that time I thought that remote work and collaboration were probably just buzz words.  So, I didn’t take it too seriously.

But we kept talking about it. Raghu would outline a challenge, like how meetings are seen as unproductive. He would then talk about an AI & ML based solution which would learn the patterns of a productive meeting and alert teams about time spent in unproductive meetings.

Or we would talk about keeping track of work done using Kanban boards or some similar tool. But when a top management guy asked “Where do we stand on the strategy we discussed six months ago?”, all of us would work extra hours to create that report.

Often we used to laugh about it. But we also remembered how stressful all that additional work was! After these talks, both of us would go home with the question “How long should we wait before these problems were solved?”

Imagineering the real team collaboration platform

As an engineer my heart is in building solutions to challenging problems. As we talked about the processes, meetings,  creating visibility, AI and ML based predictions and alerts, I began imagineering the code, the back-end services, the UX and UI and began building the solution in my head.

At some point, I realized that this solution is doable! What a moment it was!

That’s the power of a vision. When you keep sharing your vision,
at some point it begins to become real.

As it turns out now, it was not only doable, but it is the need of the hour! The incidence of Covid19, not only accelerated the pace of growth of remote work, but it practically showed everyone that remote work is here to stay.

As we began building Prakya, I couldn’t help but feel exhilarated! The right tool at the right time! The engineer in me could ask for nothing more!

How Prakya is different from all other team collaboration tools!

We began building Prakya at the start of 2020, while the world was just waking up to the dawn of Covid 19. We had been talking about remote work and team collaboration for long. The need became real. Now it was time to execute. We did enough research and prototyping and covered all the unknowns in the first 30 days. Here, I would like to highlight a thing or two about Prakya.

Prakya was never seen as a mere tool of work management for teams.
It’s not a task list with additional features to manage agile projects.

Prakya is a unified team collaboration platform that simplifies collaboration, helps teams to focus on their work and does the heavy lifting needed to create visibility to all the key stakeholders involved in delivering value to customers.

At Prakya, we believe that visibility is multi-dimensional. Different stakeholders want to see different aspects of work done. They value work done differently. Customers want to know and pay for features. Business owners want to see work in terms of business value created. Product owners want to see work in terms of hours spent in developing functional features that meet customer requirements.

This is how Prakya differs from all other project management and team collaboration tools available in the market.

Collaborating remotely to build Prakya

The vision of Prakya is deep and far reaching! We knew our teams needed to understand this and work towards this. Further, our teams were remote and based out of India and USA. All these added up to the challenge of collaboratively working and creating the best product.

One of our biggest concerns was this. We didn’t want our team to land on the Moon while the goal was to get to Mars! Mission Mangal can’t become Mission Chandrayan!

This was the true test of Prakya’s DNA. If we could collaborate successfully, we will be a living demonstration of our own philosophy. To accomplish this, we adopted a simple strategy that works like a charm even today.

We never tell our teams what to do.
We simply outline the features, explain how it should work and  what the end users expect.
We then allow the teams to brainstorm and come up with solutions.

This process has created a sense of ownership in our teams. Prakya is not Raghu’s or Sunil’s baby which the team has to babysit. It is a collective brain child of the whole team! As a result, our team learns fast, fails forward and fails fast, and builds a world class solution that our users love.

Managing the challenge of building a complex team collaboration platform

Prakya is a fairly complex environment. In fact, it can replace more than 7 different tools in the collaboration space. We have instant messaging, video conferencing, calendar integration, document store, visual orchestration and a bunch of other collaboration features. On a lighter note, Prakya is the proverbial Swiss Knife for agile team collaboration!

But, the execution plan was simple. We analyzed and reviewed our feature backlog and deliverables. We then came up with a set of core services required in the back end. This is like the engine of Prakya.

In parallel we also began building a web UI using mock ups and fictional data points. Once we tested the back-end functionality and achieved a fair degree of stability, our front-end team quickly integrated all the service end-points.

Our team has a clear understanding of what each feature is expected to perform and works together to deliver that in small iterations.

Team Collaboration using Prakya

Right now, we are using Prakya itself to manage all our work. Now, our teams have expanded to include India, USA, Canada and UK. Our strategy lives on Prakya and guides all work done. Our programs, sprints and iterations all are created and managed within Prakya.

As I speak to you, we are getting ready for releasing the first version of our mobile app. We have visually orchestrated our entire architecture in Prakya. Whenever Raghu or myself need to see where we stand, we get a multi-dimensional view of the work in progress.

With Prakya, our teams have achieved greater focus because all the heavy lifting to create visibility is taken care of by Prakya itself.

Has anything changed? Yes and no. The vision of Prakya has been unwavering. The way we work has significantly changed. We don’t switch context much. It saves a lot of time and energy which we focus on doing what we love to do.

 

I am sure our users are experiencing the same. What about you?

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