Getting under the hood with… Sarah Nguyen
Our next Under the Hood is this Wednesday the 24th of Feburary. Thanks to our event partners Adobe, you are invited to join us online as two designers walk us through how a design project worked and an Adobe rep shares tips and tricks to improve your daily workflow.
At the upcoming event, Sarah Nguyen (Head of Brand and Product at Streamtime) is going to walk us through a recent project; in the lead up we learned more about Sarah’s background, her in-house role, life changes in 2020, Streamtime’s internal collaboration, personal development and time management.
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are, what your background is, and how you first got started in the industry?
I’m a designer who believes that the power of design is in problem-solving and puzzling out solutions — so that means I’ve worked across a lot of different disciplines. I started out as a branding and graphic designer, working at a series of studios and agencies in Sydney of varying sizes. After deciding to take more of a digital bent, I worked as the design co-founder on a startup with a business co-founder in 2017, which (as most startups do!) didn’t take off. I did, however, learn a ton about product development and design problem solving from a digital product perspective, not to mention pitch as one of the top 20 applicants to the Techstars NYC accelerator (out of 1,000 applications). After we decided to move on from the startup, I found a position at Streamtime where I’ve been able to stretch and develop my product design skills even more.
What does your typical working day as Designer at Streamtime involve?
It’s a mix of things depending on what needs doing at the time. I’ll typically be working on large projects upgrading features, and probably more than one stream at a time. One feature might be in development, so I’ll be in constant conversation with the dev team, one might be in visual design, so I’ll be working on screens and UX flows, and another might be in the initial research stage, so I might be talking to our customers about their pain points, jobs to be done and all of that. We’ll start the day with a standup where we talk about what we did yesterday and what we’re planning on doing today, which is a great way for me to know what others are doing as well as set accountability with my own goals.
What insights to the Streamtime methodological approach, vision or philosophy can you give us?
We do a lot with a little. Every member of the team is constantly weighing up where best to put their time. We all might have 100 tasks we could do, but which five of those will have the biggest impact with our customers and team, and in the right way? We also have a very integrated approach where every team member has a voice even if we all have specific responsibilities. A good idea can come from anywhere. Finally, we have a high level of autonomy, so we’re motivated individually to work towards a common goal.
What project will you be presenting in Under the Hood?
We’re currently in the middle of reworking the Schedule feature of Streamtime. It’s a big project, and has a lot of intricacies that seem simple on the surface but can get very prickly! I’ll be presenting a little on our overall design process, before delving into how that has shaped the vision for the new schedule, what’s been designed, why, and how decisions shape how that design ends up in the world.
What was the most challenging part of the project and what lessons did you draw from it?
Streamtime is a very multifaceted platform. It can handle job planning, scheduling, quoting, invoicing, tracking, kanban workflow, everything. So the product has a lot of interconnections between different features that other scheduling software doesn’t have to contend with. For example, we have specific ways you can price and allocate time to job items. We also need to show the complexity and power of our tool in a simple way, which is the hardest thing to do in my job.
Was there an ‘Aha!’ moment in the project when things clicked and feel into place?
For a while I was working on a way of showing a lot of things at once, but it felt overly complex. I then took a step back and thought about different contexts and realised that we could simplify and break up areas into individual views to match different contexts and make the experience a lot cleaner and clearer.
How has Streamtime adapted to the challenges of the past year?
Streamtime was in the fortunate position where remote work was already part of the culture. I and five others are based in Sydney, we have a team in the UK and our founder in New Zealand. Pair that with clients all over the world, Zoom calls commonplace already. The shift to remote working was pretty easy for us, and in fact, we are now a fully remote team. The more challenging part of the year was when our team size was reduced and we said goodbye to some well-loved teammates.
What have you been working on recently?
This past year, I actually had a baby! I was working on that at home for a long time. I’ve only recently returned to Streamtime, so the schedule redesign has been a large part of my workload. My next big project that I am in the early stages of is reworking our job page to be more flexible and robust. There are a million other things on our to-do list coming up too. Stay tuned.
And finally, what areas of your work or personal development are you hoping to explore further?
A constant area of development for me is that prioritisation. Being in-house means that the work never ends, there’s always something that can be improved, redone, worked on, rebuilt, but we can’t do everything. Working on Streamtime has helped me understand that that is something I need to work on personally and for my career as well — prioritising is key. You can’t do it all.
Here more from Sarah February 24 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm during our DA Online Event – Under The Hood February event.