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2018
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Driving Continuous Improvement

Posted by tjatkin Mar 21, 2018

I have previously shared our focus at Blackboard on driving – and living – a culture of continuous improvement, across all aspects of our business and with a view towards how we can improve the client experience. We have a lot of critical work underway, and much more to do, and I want to share some examples of the results from the work our teams are doing specifically for Blackboard Learn in SaaS.

 

Focus on Quality

We have been working to improve the quality of our releases and our product development team identified ways to improve our internal quality assurance and testing efforts.

 

  • We added a new step to our deployment process to ensure smooth Blackboard Learn SaaS software releases. During a release, we do enhanced testing on two internal instances in every region in both test and production builds. This additional round of testing enables us to discover and fix issues, or validate there are no issues, before rolling the release out to client sites.

 

Enabling Better Testing and Change Management

Learn SaaS Clients using Continuous Delivery told us they would like to have more time for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) to ensure quality in their environment and manage the change (they were getting 7 to 8 business days - and one weekend, depending on time zone). Our product management and development teams identified process improvements allowing for more time for client UAT.

 

  • Our process improvements enable us to modify the Continuous Delivery Learn SaaS release schedule to give clients more time to conduct user acceptance testing and to manage change; we now provide 12-13 business days (and two weekends, depending on time zone).

 

Features and Capabilities

We have also been working diligently on the Learn Ultra user experience. In recent months we have focused on accelerating the delivery of new features and capabilities; we have also spent time working directly with clients and getting their inputs to refine key workflows and interfaces of Learn Ultra to improve usability. Many institutions rely heavily on group assessments.

 

  • Leveraging input from clients, we’ve done significant work to deliver group communications enhancements This user experience refinement brings more visibility and improvements to workflow usability for group assessments including: adding an activity indicator to alert group members when classmates have made contributions to group workspaces; better placement of group capabilities; and, improved default views of group workspaces.

 

 

We have a lot of additional work underway in this area and on other subjects but I wanted to share some of our work.  We’ll continue to share and provide more information across multiple forums and channels. I’m looking forward to attending  Blackboard’s Teaching and Learning Conference in Manchester, England in a few weeks to meet directly with clients and discuss our work further in these areas, and others.

 

 

 

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Blackboard’s Extended Leadership Team – 300 leaders from across the company and around the world – gathered last week for our annual Leadership Summit.  The highlight of our 2 and a half days together in the basement of a hotel was the ability to hear directly from clients about their experiences working with Blackboard.

 

For me, it was eye-opening and amazing to hear directly, in unfiltered ways, about how we can perform better as a partner in education. And, I was energized by the recognition that we’re making the right transformational moves, and inspired by the passion of my colleagues and peers across Blackboard and our collective commitment to actions that will create continuous improvement.  Our panel provided a broad cross section of perspectives and included:

 

·         A CTO for a K12 school district in the United States

·         An eLearning Manager from a University in Europe

·         An Electronic Curriculum Instructor from a global healthcare not-for-profit

·         A CIO of a University in the United States

 

We asked a lot of questions and listened, and our clients covered a lot of ground.  Here are some thematic highlights:  Our panel shared that security and privacy is an increasingly important strategic and operational concern; clients in every market are facing resource pressures; while Blackboard has made progress in quality of our releases, we still have a fair way to go; and Blackboard can do a better job of communicating effectively about our strategic direction, future product direction and plans, and integrating our various communication and delivery channels to make life simpler for our clients. 

 

After the panel, our 300 Blackboard leaders held individual table discussions so we could reflect on our clients’ experiences, challenges, and insights.  Then our leaders shared their reflections, and their thoughts on calls-to-action, so we can collectively drive a better experience for all of our clients.  This behind the scenes leadership work is necessary to drive the transformation and improvements we’ve promised, and will deliver.

 

With regard to one of the themes that was underscored last week (providing better insights into our future product direction and plans),here is a series of committed product roadmap webinars. You can register here!

 

 

Product

Region

Local Date

Local Time

Collaborate

Americas

Tuesday, March 27

2-3 pm EDT

Learn

Americas

Thursday, March 29

2-3:30 pm EDT

Moodlerooms

Americas

Thursday, March 22

2-3:30 pm EDT

Collaborate

APAC

Thursday, March 29

12-1 pm AEDT

Learn

APAC

Tuesday, March 27

12:30-2 pm AEDT

Moodlerooms

APAC

Wednesday, March 28

1:30-3 pm AEDT

Collaborate

Europe/RMEA

Thursday, March 22

1:30-2:30 pm GMT

Learn

Europe/RMEA

Wednesday, March 21

1-2:30 pm GMT

Moodlerooms

Europe/RMEA

Tuesday, March 20

1-2:30 pm GMT

 

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