Learnings of the Month: Make Collaboration Better with Event Storming

Event storming is a relatively new phenomenon in the technology industry being practiced by a number of the leading tech companies and aCommerce is no exception. It is frequently used as a model that consolidates the ‘events’ (refer to a situation that becomes a cause for reactions) and ‘reactions’ (refer to actions to be taken and stakeholders to be involved) created from each task. Employing an event storming model can help to reduce redundancy, simplify workflow, and increase the effectiveness of team collaborations.

As a regional company of over 1,400 employees in 5 Southeast Asian markets, working with numerous teams on multiple projects simultaneously is unavoidable at aCommerce. And when there are too many parties involved, information tends to get distorted and eventually, lost.

To show how using the right tools can help us increase collaborating, we speak with aCommerce Product Development Scrum Master, Pinthip Chantanalert on the application of ‘Event Storming’ which recently employed during the interdepartmental project to visualize the voucher redemption process currently being used.

First, tell us more about the background of the project that you were involved with

Towards the end of last year, all ecommerce companies were working round the clock to ensure that the operations of the official stores on e-marketplaces run smoothly, especially so during the campaign period.

With aCommerce having to deal with multiple marketplaces and brands, there are different processes required by each company to issue a voucher code, place an invoice and etc. Therefore, it is essential for the relevant teams to sit together and set the system in place in order to provide an efficient business flow within the organization.

So as someone who oversees the product development, the workshop helps you understand the process of voucher redemption?

Yes, that’s one part of the objective. We also wanted to understand the pain points encountered by each team and draw out a big picture of the whole process related to voucher across the departments, including Corporate Development, Key Account Managers (KAM), Channel Partner & Operations, Accounting and Finance, and Tech.

Event storming is a simple method yet it provides a comprehensive overview of the workflow. It is also simple and straightforward. To carry out such a workshop, all we need are sticky notes, markers, and a willingness to communicate. It does not even require the participation of a technology team. One of the largest values of such session is when the participants have that learning moment of: ‘I did not know you were doing that’.

How was the workshop carried out?

During the workshop, each department was asked to list down the actions are needed when an ‘event’ occurs. For the case of our workshop, the KAM team breaks down the steps they are required to complete when creating a voucher for their ecommerce clients on a sticky note. While the Accounting team does the same for the actions they need to do to collect the sum of money from the aforementioned clients.

Once done, all of the steps are listed out on sticky notes, the teams regrouped to lay the sticky notes out in the right sequence, starting from the first to the last step of issuing a discount voucher for a brand. As such, the involved teams will have an understanding of the process and be able to create the right system to serve the business flow.

Sticky notes were used to lay out the process. Different colors represent the event and reaction of the project and the teams involved.

Sticky notes were used to lay out the process. Different colors represent the event and reaction of the project and the teams involved.

Did the teams achieve the goal? What are the key takeaways from the workshop?

The workshop provides the teams with an overview of the current business workflow and short-term solutions. Listing out the steps and process also enables the team members to identify bottlenecks and redundancy of the workflow which they, in turn, eliminate to make the workflow more efficient and systematic. The workshop has allowed teams to communicate better and be more aware of what may be happening in other teams simultaneously.

Subsequently, the session has ensured that every department has the same view of the business flow and allowed us to identify the top-priority issues we should focus on. As an immediate solution, the tech team is able to come up with reports containing all orders per seller with the information of voucher code. With that, the tech team can conveniently match the sale order in Voucher Receivable in NetSuite and data from API to KAM and Accounting for further reimbursement process to clients.
Nevertheless, it would need a follow-up series of brainstorming sessions to optimize this flow and design together to solve the current pain point.

Any considerations we need to take into account before a workshop using event storming?

I would say that the most important aspect of using event storming is that you invite the right people. They must be the people who understand and know the details of the activities that occur on a daily-basis clearly in order to identify the “actions/reactions” that the system needs to serve. Depending upon the goal of the event storming session, often the right person is not the manager of the team, but the person doing the work. This is especially true if the goal is to surface what the process looks like today.

If you want to adopt event storming to solve a problem among your teams, read more about the steps to applying event storming to your workshop here.