How and Why to Engage the Whole Company in Product Development

There is an enormous amount of planning and structure behind product development. Each individual has their role and responsibilities, and as a team, we work hand-in-hand to innovate and improve the product in service of our end-users. But having the same people review the same product repeatedly can lead to gaps or inattention blindness.

One way we overcome this at Insurance Quantified is with an annual bug bash. Over the course of two days, we invite everyone who works at the company to test features in our product with the intent of spotting issues or identifying potential improvements.

We want to get as many people involved and engaged as possible, so we aim to make the bash both functional and fun. We strive to make it a true event for our employees, complete with invitations, office decorations and designated time to socialize with an opening lunch and closing happy hour. We provide detailed product instructions and guides on how to get started, as well as templates employees can use to file tickets. We track all tickets filed on a real-time leaderboard, and at the end of the bug bash, we share highlights such as the total number of tickets, who filed the most tickets, and any progress that has already been made on fixing bugs.

It’s proven to be a highly effective way to give everyone real-life exposure to iterative product development. The benefits have been significant:

For the product. We do bug bashes for what should be a fairly obvious reason: to bash the bugs! As we build new products and add features, it’s important to make sure that the quality of those products and features stays high. We conduct automated tests and have a quality assurance team, but getting fresh eyes on the product – especially different kinds of eyes from cross-functional teams – can reveal things we might not have otherwise noticed.

For our users. Bug bashes provide all employees – including the product team – an opportunity to experience our platform through the eyes of the client. This grows customer empathy and creates internal familiarity with and ownership of our product. Across the company, it’s important that all employees understand our customers’ experience with what we are building and the value it brings, and that they’re able to interact with our product and talk about it confidently.

For company culture. The benefits of bug bashes go beyond what we get out of them from a product perspective. Bug bashes are also a cultural driver for us, and a way to live our company values:

  • Always Agile: Bug bashes allow us to quickly identify as many areas for improvement as possible so we can get to work right away.
  • Better Together: We believe collaboration is the root of success, so we use bug bashes to get everyone working together to solve problems.
  • Practical Innovation: Bug bashes aren’t just about looking for clear bugs or errors – they’re also about generating feedback and ideas on how things that are working can be improved and made better for the users.
  • Everything Quantified: Data is our universal language, and bug bashes provide another opportunity to analyze and learn from our product. We look at the volume of tickets and where they are concentrated, and bake these learnings into future sprints.

In short, bug bashes are a great way to not only expose your company to “a day in the life of a product manager,” but can also be a great way to foster innovation and cultural alignment. Happy bashing!