Seven day sprints.
A 7-day sprint cycle so intense even Microsoft commented on how unusual it is. Yet Acompli — now Outlook Mobile — pulled it off.
Acompli was a business email app for iOS and Android which allows their users to connect to multiple e-mail services and focus on what’s important in their inbox.
After they launched, they quickly dominated their space.
They were so dominant, in fact, that Microsoft acquired them for $200 million dollars after just 18 months.
Acompli was one of Testlio’s first customers and while working with them, it is without a doubt to say they are one of the most product focused companies we have ever worked with.
We recently spoke with the VP of Engineering and co-founder of Acompli, Kevin Henrikson to learn about how Outlook Mobile now uses Testlio to help create a development cycle that utilized every single day of the week to ship a product their users love with unheard of speed.
Speed is the key.
The Outlook team is focused on engineering. In fact, of their 23 person staff, 20 of them are engineers.
By focusing on the engineering team, They are able to deliver amazingly quick results. Having a team so incredibly focused on engineering allows for constant updates and fixes onto the app store every seven days. If there was a user reported a problem, they would likely see it fixed within a week.
In their early days, Acompli knew by constantly delivering updates and improving the user experience of their product they would quickly grow a loyal user base. Despite having such an agile development cycle, consistent product quality was a topic they held at the top of their mind.
Test from day one.
Despite not having any in-house QA engineers, Kevin knew how important testing was from the very beginning.
While Acompli was still in pre-alpha, he searched for a suitable partner to outsource their testing to. Fortunately for Testlio, Kevin discovered us through a Testlio shirt Keen.io founder and fellow TechStars alumni, Kyle Wild was wearing.
When they first launched, Acompli had no intentions of building out a manual test team. Aside from the higher cost of building out a manual test team, Kevin also acknowledged the challenge of managing it. He noted a major challenge was “keeping a manual test team fresh and up to date with what’s changing and keeping them excited over long sprints.” Acompli needed a testing partner who was flexible and able to adapt to their development cycles and needs.
“Testlio has grown at the speed of our growth”
When Kevin first reached out to us, the demands were relatively normal. He gave us the iOS project to test on various devices and wanted results on time. Over time the requirements became much higher. This was due to Acompli’s growing success and increased functionality.
We make it a high priority to not be a bottleneck in Outlook Mobile’s intense development cycles. Doing this requires us to form a very close relationship with their engineering team.
Outlook’s internal engineering team works on the product from Monday through Friday, then hands off the build to be tested by Testlio over the weekend. Their team comes back Monday knowing exactly what to focus on from our weekend testing reports. This process became highly valuable because it opened up two extra days to their development cycle.
On weekdays we still work side by side with the Outlook team. We continue to have people cleaning up the backlog of obsolete issues and communicate with the team to see what we can do to make this process as efficient as possible.
This close integration of teams has been crucial towards Outlook’s development process. When I asked Kevin about Testlio’s contributions to Acompli (and Outlook) he said,
“Testlio owns a huge component of the quality assurance for [Acompli]. For us to run this rapid sprint process, Testlio plays a major role in that and allows us to bridge the weekend that you would normally consider dead time and refocus the team starting each week… Because of Testlio we were able to move at the speed that our customers demand and it allowed us to take more risks.”
With this process, we became reliant on one another and each team responded very positively to this dynamic. It was completely fluid.
More than just testing.
It wasn’t always just traditional testing services Testlio provided for Acompli. When they were growing internationally, they had to deal with translating their app. It didn’t make sense to hire a full-time language expert, so they decided to outsource this project to a translating service, but still needed to make sure the quality of the translations was up to par for any native speaker. We sourced testers and executed the testing as each language was added to the app.
Acompli gave us a list of 29 languages their app was to be translated to. Within two weeks we needed to make sure text made complete sense to any native speaker in each of these languages. A turn around time for an app to be translated into so many languages is unheard of. However, we had a unique advantage.
Our professional tester base spans from all over the world. This was proven to be especially valuable. We had a unique position to be able to source the language experts from our already great testing community. While running the tests in parallel to the translation testing, our testers would continue to go about their normal routine of uprooting every error they discovered, but also had additional tasks to test the translations of each page of the app in their native language.
Thanks to our valuable community, we successfully completed the task. Within a few weeks, Acompli went from being English only to five languages, 10 languages, then to 30 on both iOS and Android.
The seven-day sprint has proven to be a beautiful development cycle many other companies should adopt. By focusing on speed without sacrificing quality, Acompli created the perfect formula to constantly deliver an amazing product to their users. We believe because of Acompli’s relentless dedication towards quality is a large reason why Microsoft saw such great value in them.
Today, Outlook Mobile has over 100 million users.